Review: Bluey’s Big Play at the Lyceum, Sheffield

‘What’s Bluey?’ asked our painter and decorator as we prepared to leave the house for the theatre.
Bluey features pre-recorded voices by original cast membersBluey features pre-recorded voices by original cast members
Bluey features pre-recorded voices by original cast members

‘Cheese and crackers!’ we felt like replying. ‘Where’ve you been, mate?’

Surely no-one could have escaped the global Aussie phenomenon that is puppy dog Bluey, her shy little sister Bingo, and their oh-so-relatable Heeler dog parents, mum Chilli and dad Bandit.

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The Emmy award-winning animated TV series, which screens on CBeebies, Disney+ and our house multiple times daily, isn’t just unstoppably popular with young children.

Bluey's little sister BingoBluey's little sister Bingo
Bluey's little sister Bingo

Adults love it too, for its clever scripts, emotional storylines, and pitch-perfect true-to-life portrayals of everyday family life, parent-child relationships and authentic sibling bonds.

Gently wise Chilli and lazily playful Bandit are the parents we sometimes are, and wish we always could be. Bluey and Bingo might squabble sometimes, but their protective love for each other is enough to bring a tear to the eye of even the most hardened kids’ TV viewing veteran.

Now the worldwide small screen sensation has been turned into a live theatre show, Bluey’s Big Play, with larger-than-life puppets for the cartoon characters, each operated by three skilled puppeteers.

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With an original story by Bluey creator Joe Brumm, new music by Bluey composer Joff Bush, and pre-recorded dialogue from the TV cast voices, the show is fully faithful to its format.

The show features an original story by Bluey creator Joe BrummThe show features an original story by Bluey creator Joe Brumm
The show features an original story by Bluey creator Joe Brumm

Just as in the TV programme, there are quiet, contemplative moments as well as wackadoo hilarity, and the show opens without fanfare with some gorgeous bird puppetry.

The rhythmically flapping, colourful flock is beautiful, and settles the excited young audience effortlessly into quietness – before a lively singalong version of the brilliant theme song complete with shouts of Mum! Dad! Bingo! Bluey!

Unlike many kids’ screen-to-stage spin-offs, this show has a proper storyline. Bandit just wants some Sunday afternoon time out, scrolling on his phone… while Bluey and Bingo use all their tricks to get him to play with them instead.

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There’s also a sentimental sub-plot about being a good sister. Bluey is fed up of little Bingo copying her – and when Bingo talks to the walking leaf (a touching reference to genius season 1 episode The Weekend) and confesses: “I don’t think I’m a very good little sister” it’s every bit as heartbreaking as the estrangement alluded to between Chilli and her own big sister, Brandy.

Adults love cartoon favourite Bluey tooAdults love cartoon favourite Bluey too
Adults love cartoon favourite Bluey too

The show’s 45-minute run time did feel a little short to our six-year-old, who was disappointed the end had arrived, but was perhaps just the right length for the preschoolers in the audience.

And when the finale did come – a whole-audience Bubble Keepy Uppy, with bubbles streaming hypnotically down from the Lyceum’s gilded ceiling – it felt as magical as some of the show’s best, most memorable TV episodes.

  • Bluey’s Big Play is at the Lyceum, Sheffield, until Saturday, March 30.
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