‘Are the Moomins monsters, or hippos?’
This was the question posed by my four- and two-year olds, on our way to see Moominsummer Madness at the Polka Theatre, South London.
If I had to plump for one or the other, I would say they’re more like hippos. Home-loving, a tad territorial, protective of their families, and yes, even graceful swimmers (especially when chasing floating strings of sausages). In this collaboration between the Polka, Little Angel and Royal & Derngate Theatres, the Moomins showed several characteristics similar to those portly grey swimming mammals.
Where the Moomins differ, though, is how they regularly find themselves thrown into anarchic adventures, through the storylines dreamed up by Tove Jansson (their creator and whose centenery it is this year).
Translating one of these zany plots into a stage show was a risky move. A children’s performance works when it can transform something simple (whether that’s a plot, set or concept) into something that works on many levels, because the children in the audience have been able to leave their own stamp on the show.