Puppet theatre in London

A puppet show can be more than Punch and Judy – here's our guide to the magical marionettes performing in London right now

Puppet Theatre Barge or Movingstage Marionette Company

Puppet Theatre Barge or Movingstage Marionette Company Puppet Theatre Barge or Movingstage Marionette Company

You may not have seen one since your favourite film was 'Pinocchio', but there's no denying the nostalgia-pricking joy of a well-produced puppet show. But where to see one? Here's our guide to the best puppet shows currently playing on London's small stages.

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Father Nandru and the Wolves

  • Rated as: 3/5

As folk fables go, ‘Father Nandru and the Wolves’ is pretty out-there. With all the hallucinations, talking wolves and dancing goats, you’d be forgiven for thinking the characters in this puppet-centric play had been running about their local Transylvanian woods picking mushrooms – and not the sort you sauté. That you’re never quite sure what’s coming next is one of the charms of this tale, which is set during the tail end of Ceaușescu’s bulldozing of

  1. Wilton's Music Hall 1-4 Graces Alley, off Ensign St, E1 8JB
  2. Wed Apr 16 - Fri Apr 18
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The Tiger Who Came to Tea

  • Rated as: 4/5

This review is of the summer 2011 run of 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea'. Those of a certain generation will remember having 'The Tiger Who Came to Tea' read to them as a child, and the warm, familiar and comforting charm of the illustrations that accompanied it. David Wood's stage adaptation of the book beloved by children for 40 years is a delight from start to finish, imaginatively weaving songs, humour and audience participation together to give a loyal account of the tale: the

  1. 29 Shaftesbury Avenue, W1D 7ES
  2. £12.50-£15.50
  3. Wed Jul 2 - Sun Sep 7
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A Child's Garden of Verse

The moving Puppet Theatre Barge, currently at home in Little Venice, stages this visual anthology of poems inspired by the works of Robert Louis Stevenson. Marionettes and shadow puppets work with music to create a piece of magic. Ages 3-plus.

  1. Puppet Theatre Barge Little Venice, Blomfield Rd, W9 2PF
  2. Wed Apr 16 - Sun May 18
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Rubbish

The always interesting children's theatre company Theatre-Rites present a new show about rubbish and the value of the things we throw away. Watch the discarded contents of a bin-bag come to life before your eyes. Ages 6+.

  1. Purcell Room South Bank, SE1 8XX
  2. Wed Apr 16 - Mon Apr 21
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Shakespeare: The Puppet Show

Showcasing the V&A's remarkable puppet collection, 'Shakespeare: The Puppet Show' weaves the stories and words of Shakespeare into a new play for children. Staged as part of the museum's Shakespeare festival, this thirty minute performance should introduce the young 'uns to the Bard.

  1. V&A Cromwell Rd, SW7 2RL
  2. Wed Apr 16 - Sat Apr 19
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There's A Monster in my Piano

Puppetry company Garlic Theatre presents this tale of a Piano Doctor doing battle with a very high strung (pfner-pfner) monster. Ages 4-7.

  1. Little Angel Theatre 14 Dagmar Passage, Cross St, N1 2DN
  2. Wed Apr 16 - Sat Apr 19
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The Paper Cinema's Odyssey

Since 2004, illustrator Nicholas Rawling has been using puppets and models drawn on the back of leftover packaging to create live-soundtracked silent films that cleverly translate the language of cinema – from close-ups to panning shots – to the stage. Never ones to curtail their ambitions just because their main medium is the humble pen Paper Cinema opt for no less a tale than Homer's great epic of love and fidelity. The show returns to BAC after a successful run last year.

  1. Battersea Arts Centre Lavender Hill, SW11 5TN
  2. Tue Apr 22 - Wed Apr 23
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Peppa Pig's Big Splash

The children's TV character Peppa Pig arrives for his fourth West End season this Christmas as part of an uber tour that has stretched over 47 weeks. It seems there's still appetite for the cheeky little piggie from kids all over, and if your child loves the show then this might be one to look out for. This new production has the Pig family setting up a village fete to raise money to fix their leaking roof. Let's hope the big bad wolf doesn't come? Eh?

  1. Churchill Theatre High St, Bromley, BR1 1HA
  2. Sat Jul 26 - Thu Sep 4
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Skitterbang Island

This puppet opera is a co-production between Polka Theatre and north London's great puppet theatre Little Angel and is set on a bleak, craggy island in the very north of the world where a little girl meets a strange creature. Little Angel are famed for their evocative puppetry and this piece by Phil Porter and Martin Ward is directed by the Little Angel's ex-artistic director (and Polka's new one) Peter Glanville. Ages 3-6.

  1. Polka Theatre 240 The Broadway, SW19 1SB
  2. Sat Apr 26 - Sat Aug 16
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Moominsummer Madness

Everyone's favourite Swedish/Finnish cartoon creation the Moomins get a stage outing here courtesy of Phil Porter and the Little Angel Theatre. Tove Jansson's original story is adapted by Porter to bring the weird white bear-type creatures to life as puppets in Moominvalley. This looks like a fun, summer-tinged meta-theatrical affair where the Moomins find a new home - a floating theatre - after Moomin valley is swept away by a flood. Ages 4-8.

  1. Polka Theatre 240 The Broadway, SW19 1SB
  2. Sat Jun 14 - Sat Aug 16
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