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Review: Zog at The Lowry is ‘incredible, interactive and great fun’

Discover the enchanting world of Julia and Axel's favourite stories at The Lowry this summer, featuring the delightful staged production of Zog.
Manchester theatre

This summer The Lowry, Salford is hosting Julia and Axel – Thirty Years of Favourite Stories which includes exhibitions, activities, galleries, breakout spaces, and areas of play. Within this host of events is Zog.

Zog at the Lowry

This is a staged production adapted from the book of the same name, written by Julia Donaldson and illustrated by Axel Scheffler, adapted and directed by Emma Kilbey, which is playing in the Quays Theatre.

Zog is the biggest dragon in the class, and he is eager to prove himself worthy of attaining a gold star from Madam Dragon.

The narrative follows Zog’s class through years one to five of learning the essential aspects of being a dragon, and as the audience we witness him overcome obstacles, handle rejection, and work hard to be the best dragon Zog can be.

Through this, Zog learns the strength of friendship and the value of practice.

Zog at the Lowry production team

Featuring original lyrics and music by Joe Stilgoe, Zog runs for approximately one hour and is an ideal way to introduce children to live theatre.

From page to stage, a team of five brings to life Donaldson and Scheffler’s story.

The performers articulate clearly, keeping a rhythm to their speech.

They also demonstrate skill with handling the puppets, and the whole show is well-made and very well-rehearsed.

There are cartwheels, and there is climbing up and around an apparatus which they make look effortless.

Family-friendly shows Manchester

Children are highly encouraged to participate from their seats, with specific audience participation required to practice tongue twisters and help Madam Dragon keep the other dragons in line.

The kids seem to engage with the show as they get to shout and point when instructed, and they also stay quiet while observing the story unfold.

The set is plain and simple, as a pale green apparatus stands centre stage with a couple of small, leafy-looking trees placed closer to the front of the stage.

Three gold stars hang from the ceiling, glowing at certain intervals, and the lighting ranges from being completely dim to almost a blackout to the audience being lit up so the cast can see and interact with us.

The impressive factor of this production is the puppets of the animals that feature within the story.

The dragon puppets, Zog, Edwin, and Ronnie, are created with such great attention to detail that they are exactly as Scheffler illustrated them on the page, which is incredible.

The puppets are multifaceted, allowing them to be used as handheld instruments, as well as connecting to rods, where they can be swooped and scooped above the audience sitting in the first couple of rows of the stalls.

The cast wears the solid colours associated with the dragon they’re voicing, Madam Dragon in green, Ronnie in pink, Edwin in blue, and of course Zog in orange.

Princess Pearl dons a blue gingham dress and pigtails, not unlike Dorothy Gale.

Zog is recommended for children aged 3+ however, all little ones are welcome.

Though this may go without saying, this is a very child-oriented production.

Zog is running twice daily, excluding on Mondays (except bank holidays) until Sunday 3rd September.

There are accessible performances scheduled as follows: Audio described by Caroline Burn on Wednesday 9th August, 1:30 pm with a touch tour taking place before the show at 12:30 pm.

There is a BSL-interpreted performance by Emma Jane Heap on Saturday 12th August, at 1:30 p.m., and a relaxed showing on Thursday 31st August, at 1:30 pm.

Tickets for Zog

Tickets for Zog start at £17 and can be purchased here.

The Julia and Axel exhibit also includes Charlie Cook’s Reading Nook, The Gruffalo Kitchen & Play area, and The Lookout.

There’s also Zog Academy, where little dragons can come and learn all the aspects of being a dragon with the chance to earn their gold star – just like Zog!

Other than the live performance of Zog, these activities are free to drop ins that don’t require advanced bookings, so The Lowry is an ideal place to be this summer holiday, especially on a wet day!

For more information on the overall exhibit, follow the link here.

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