A children’s TV favourite that needs no introduction and a concept that needs little explanation – our porcine pal and her family are simply here to give little ones their first taste of classical music.
The characters are visually very appealing – big and bright and exactly how you’d imagine the 3D manifestation of our 2D chums to be. Don’t tell the little ones, but Mummy and Daddy Pig are actually full-size humans in costume, while Peppa and George are wheeled puppets on bouncy springs, all the better for jumping in muddy puddles. They retain their animated quality even in physical form and our performers have got Peppa and George’s voices down pat.
Sarah, our host, is very teacherly, herding the pigs, encouraging audience participation and lightly educating us as she introduces all the various instruments of the orchestra we’re about to hear. The music’s pop-classical – Beethoven’s 6th, Flight of the Bumblebee – interspersed with songs from the show, like The Bing Bong Song. There’s simple actions to follow and a chance to singalong to the latter. All of this is gently done, nothing too hyperactive, although that can’t be guaranteed: Peppa has been known to provoke stage invasions. It’s staged for an end-on audience and in a curved auditorium like this, it’s not always easy to see or follow words and actions from the side. A little disappointingly, one of the interesting factoids given, that Mozart wrote Twinkle Twinkle, Little Star turns out not to be true.
For their part, the orchestra look like they’re enjoying letting their hair down. A welcome change from a stuffy concert hall, perhaps? Our percussionist, Mary, seems to be especially reveling in her role and looks only too happy to be teaching Daddy Pig the xylophone. As with the cartoon, silly Daddy is the bumbling fall guy for everything that goes wrong, and when all but one other performer on stage is a woman this feels like a particularly egregious reinforcement of stereotypes to an audience full of many dads and lads.
There are occasional rumblings of distraction and it sometimes seems like the adults are more up for participation than the kids, but Peppa Pig is always going to be a draw for the family market and this is a nice way to encourage an early interest in classical music.