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Grandad, Me and Teddy Too at Polka Theatre

Wimbledon’s Polka Theatre is one of those amazing jewels of dedicated children’s theatre found scattered through the community hubs of London. Its lovely building has been dynamically arranged to engage visiting children before they see any drama and this creates a fun and positive atmosphere.

Grandad, Me and Teddy Too - Photo credit Steve Gregson.
Grandad, Me and Teddy Too – Photo credit Steve Gregson.

Grandad, Me and Teddy Too, directed by Sarah Argent, is a delightful, cosy piece of theatre for very young children below the age of 5. Beneath a seemingly simple narrative with a cast of just two accompanied by a toy teddy bear, real-life complexities are gently explored and communicated to the children about relationships with grandparents who they love but may only see sometimes. By this method, the children are reassured about what they may sometimes feel. As are their grandparents.

Back in 2014, Sarah Argent and members of the theatre, wanting to make a show on the grandparents’ topic contacted local nurseries and schools looking for input from the children. Staying in contact by means of the internet was a subject that came up repeatedly. During the pandemic, this virtual contact became the only way of keeping in contact and many in the generation of very young audience of children now attending this show will have experienced this.

The shock, shyness and disruption a child can feel when they eventually meet in person their grandparent(s) is nicely described. As is a very willing grandparent’s lack of knowledge about how to please the beloved grandchild in play and the rejection the child then issues. The answer is found here in love and care, attention and wonder. Just as it should be.

Imagination and stories bond and, perhaps, as some in the audience have done, pretend games of travel to far away on a magic carpet, accompanied by Teddy, bring a sense of shared adventures.

Katherine Carlton, who plays the role of Mia, notably becomes entirely believable to the youngsters in the audience as a child like them. This is hard to do.

Gordon Warnecke as Grandad successfully plays a gentle, graceful soul.

Designed by Jonathan Chan the lighting provides a pathway to a wondrous, imaginary world. The set design is also a hit with Mia’s bedroom and a home environment containing items the children in the audience pick out as being the same as they have at home. In this way, a bond of connection is created between the audience and Mia while they wait for the play to start.

There is a cafe in the theatre providing snacks for children and adults, both before and after the performances. A little shop on the premises also sells reasonably priced pocket money toys. The Polka Theatre is a delightful destination for families and is highly recommended.

4 stars

Review by Marian Kennedy

Mia loves her Grandad very much. He lives far away, on the other side of the world, but finally, he’s coming to visit and Mia’s excitement is growing. When Grandad arrives he brings with him adventurous stories and games which set Mia’s imagination alight – together they explore the whole world without ever leaving her playroom.

Creative Team
Written and directed by Sarah Argent
Designer Katie Lias
Lighting Designer Jonathan Chan
Composition and Sound Designer Greg Hall
Cast Katherine Carlton
Cast Gordon Warnecke
Production Manager Nick Allsop
Stage Manager Rebecca Harris

A Polka Theatre production

2nd Dec 2022 – 29th Jan 2023

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