Tineke Ann Robson, who plays Pippi Longstocking in the Tim Bray production of the same name, is very agile.
I say that not to be creepy but to articulate her impressive ease on the monkey bars that make up part of the oversized climbing frame that is the set of Pippi's home. As the parent of preschoolers, I have recently attempted monkey bars again and can confirm that they are not easy. Robson swings and flips around the set with a childlike whimsy that delighted my 4-year-old.
It's not the first time Robson has played this version of Pippi; she had the part in Tim Bray's 2013 production. Now a Londoner, she returned especially to reprise the role which suits her very well. Of Dutch heritage, her accent passes as vaguely Scandinavian (Pippi's creator was Swedish writer Astrid Lindgren) and her performance is sweet and endearing.
The supporting cast is a little weaker and because the play is episodic, made up of scenes adapted from the books, it lacks a real storyline. For the youngest audience members, this won't matter one iota but for parents, caregivers and older children the lack of a coherent narrative means there's no edge of your seat, what's going to happen next, engagement with the play and it can feel a bit disjointed.
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Adult gripes aside, there are plenty of really fun moments for the kids. Both my children were transfixed and the eldest held us all up by insisting on returning to the car walking backwards a la Pippi.
It's probably best suited to a younger audience: 2-8 year olds. And while there's not much there for grown- ups, I have already been bamboozled into purchasing the film and a request has been submitted to have Pippi attend an upcoming fifth birthday party, so it's been given the thumbs up by its target audience.
What: Pippi Longstocking
Where & when: PumpHouse Theatre, until April 29
Reviewed by Zanna Gillespie