Review: Oi Frog & Friends. Curve Studio. Leicester

‘Cats sit on mats, hares sit on chairs, mules sit on stools, gophers sit on sofas and frogs sit on logs’

It’s a new day at Sittingbottom school and FROG is looking for a place to sit, but CAT has other ideas and DOG is happy to play along! Who knew there were so many rhyming rules and what will happen when FROG is in charge?

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Well you often learn something new when you visit the theatre and today I learnt, from the lady sitting next to me, that the Oi books are immensely popular with younger children. Amongst the titles by author Kes Gray and illustrator Jim Field are; Oi Frog and Friends, Oi Duck Billed Platypus, Oi Frog, Oi Cat, Oi Dog, Oi Puppies, Oi Get Stuck In and Quick Quack Quentin. It makes me wish I was an innocent three year-old again! Today I am in the packed studio at Curve to see Oi Frog and Friends (Live) at the first 1.30 p.m showing and the place is buzzing with eager to be entertained young children and their parents.

The cast line-up for the 2021/22 UK tour is: Jake Addley as DOG (alternate CHEETAH), Rebecca Ayres as CAT (Understudy CHEETAH), Christopher Dobson as CHEETAH (alternate DOG), Emily Essery as FROG (Understudy CAT and ASM) and Sarah Palmer as FROG (Understudy CAT and ASM). Today we have Emily Essery playing the cute but determined FROG.

Oi Frog and Friends is a non-stop highly colourful show that’s perfect for this age range who delight in the way the animals are presented and the daftness of their adventures. An animated black board brings an exciting visual plus to the piece. There’s loads of songs, opportunities to clap along and route for FROG as he steals the Book Of Rules from the supercilious silly CAT and goes mad with inventing sillier and sillier ideas and rhymes for where animals are supposed to sit after he was forced to sit on a log (rhymes with FROG) and got nasty splinters in his froggy bum. But even frogs can go too far.

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An elephant goes on a rampage around the audience whilst looking for mice and squirts the audience with water, panto style. A whale tells us how whales are forced to sit on a bed of nails; mice freeze their bottoms off on piles of ice and Bob Burrows a meercat presenter from Meercat TV pops up (as meercats are prone to do) to comment on the action. If you love jokes about spotty bums, farting and smelly pants, like the kids clearly do today, you have come to the right show. The CAT who is on her last life shows us how she lost eight out of her nine lives and proves how brave she is by climbing up a mountain to retrieve The Book of Rules and ends up befriending FROG and saving his life.

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All the performers put in 110% and the kids all seem to know, from the books, what rhyming word goes with each of Gray and Field’s characters. The show is very colourful and zips along at a fun pace. My neighbour in the audience tells me that her children sat with her in the Curve Studio are aged three and seven and both absolutely loved it. I mean, who wouldn’t? I am sixty years older than most of children here today and I had tears of joy threatening to spill out just thinking of shows like this that families can enjoy these days and maybe even introduce the young ones to the theatre. Oi Frog and Friends is selling out faster than a frog can jump so don’t delay and book today. Hey! That rhymed!

Previous production photos credit: Pamela Raith

Oi Frog and Friends runs (and leaps) at Curve 17 – 20 Feb

This touring production can also be seen at The Belgrade Theatre Coventry 13-14 May

https://www.belgrade.co.uk/events/oi-frog-friends-live-on-stage/

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