Vikings, dragons, big green birds, beautiful puppetry and ‘little men’.
This is the world of Noggin the Nog. And this is a world which was not familiar to me before seeing Mischevous Theatre perform it at the Studio at the Hawth Crawley.
But after seeing this performance it is an exciting world I would visit again.
Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin have a rich history in children’s entertainment having also created Bagpuss, The Clangers, and Ivor the Engine among others.
Peter based the drawings of Noggin and other characters on the Lewis Chess pieces which were rooted from a sand dune in Uig Bay in 1831 by a poor superstitious soul who rang away thinking they were elves - and Peter decided they were Nogs.
Noggin the Nog was made in single frame animations by Smallfilms, set up in a barn at Peter aand Joan’s famrhouse in Kent and ‘King of the Nogs’ was first shown in it’s black and white version in 1959.
And it’s that version which is referenced in this stage version, performed by Clive Holland (The brave and mighty Thornogson), Nicholas Collett (Graculous), Max Mackintosh (Noggin) and Anthony Gleave (Nogbad the Bad).
In two short halves they performed two seperate stories, both funny, exciting and dramatic.
The impressive thing about the show is the skill of the actors and how they use the minimalistic set (a screen, a campfire, a couple of barrels, a disco ball and some instruments).
And the four actors are called upon to be narrators, characters, musicians, puppeteers and a dragon - and there were no weaknesses in the performances. The relaxed style of the performances, which involves plenty of audience participation, asides and ad-libbing, makes you think that’s how they would act in their everyday life without an audience.
The puppets looked beautiful and were made by chief puppet-designer and maker Caroline Bowman and her assistant Ruth Herbert, who is Peter Firmin’s grand-daughter. The crows in the cape of Nogbad the Bad were particularly impressive.
But I am not the target audience so I left it to my three-year-old son Noah, who laughed all the way through, to sum it up, ‘It was very exciting and my favourite bit was the dragon’.