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Children's theatre in London

Keep the kids quiet with a bit of culture at one of London's family-friendly shows

'Grandad Me and Teddy Too'

Even the smallest members of the family enjoy the odd stage show. Here are the Time Out theatre team's recommendations for kids' theatre and which performances will suit the very little ones, the nearly big ones, and the grown ups too. If you're planning ahead for the school holidays, check out top 10 children's theatre shows this half-term and our 101 things to do in London with kids. Or for treats the whole family can enjoy, have a look at our favourite West End theatre shows.

Theatre for children (5+)

Iron Man

Recommended

Taller than a house and ten times more fearsome, the Iron Man is a monster who eats every scrap of metal he can sink his teeth into. Ted Hughes' sci-fi novel is a kids' classic, showing the surprising friendship between a metal robot and a boy who learns to tame him. In the Unicorn Theatre's production, Matthew Robins will use an ingenious mix of paper silhouettes, stop motion animation and puppetry to bring him to life. Ages eight-plus.

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Unicorn Theatre , London Bridge Until Sunday March 5 2017

The Hunting Lodge

Once upon a time, a prince and a cleaner got married. But did they really live happily ever after? Unicorn Theatre's artistic director Purni Morell is at the helm of this twisted love story, which she's translated from Belgian playwright Ignace Cornelissen's original. Aimed at tweens and teenagers aged 11-plus, 'The Hunting Lodge' is a playful riff on ideas of celebrity and romance.

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Unicorn Theatre , London Bridge Until Sunday March 5 2017

The Insect Circus

This quirky family show is a celebration of all things creepy and crawly. 'The Insect Circus' stars familiar circus characters and an imaginatively-costumed host of zany bugs. Ages 6-plus.

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Albany Theatre , New Cross Tuesday April 4 2017 - Saturday April 8 2017

The Curious Adventures Of Pinocchio

Fairytale's most famous fibber, Pinocchio, comes to life in this storytelling performance featuring Cbeebies star Patrick Lynch. Marcello Chiarenza's new approach to the story uses quirky props and simple staging to entrall kids with Pinocchio's curious adventures. Ages four-plus.

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Lyric Hammersmith , Hammersmith Saturday March 18 2017 - Sunday April 2 2017

A Real Alien Adventure

Do aliens really exist? Ripstop Theatre help kids find out, in the thrilling space show 'A Real Alien Adventure'. Miss Amelia Buttersnap and her amazing array of gadgets will set out with her cat Tibbles on a mission to prove that there really is someone out there. Ages three to nine.

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Half Moon Young People's Theatre , Limehouse Saturday March 4 2017 - Sunday April 2 2017

The Missing Light

Two elderly neighbours in a tiny fishing village go on an adventure in this daytime kids' show, which is pitching up at The Old Vic over the Easter hols. Created by Mark Arends for Make Mend and Do, 'The Missing Light' uses puppetry and film to tell the story using quirky live animation. Ages seven-plus. 

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Old Vic , Southwark Monday March 20 2017 - Saturday April 1 2017

Peter And The Wolf

Puppet duo On The Other Hand perform 'Peter and the Wolf' using a handpainted set and gorgeous traditional puppets. It's the story of a boy who lives on the edge of a huge forest, and escapes a wolf's clutches thanks to a horde of animal friends. Ages four to nine. 

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Little Angel Theatre , Islington Thursday April 6 2017 - Saturday April 8 2017

The Elves And The Shoemaker

There's song, silliness and magic tricks galore in this family retelling of 'The Elves and the Shoemaker' by Full House Theatre. A three-strong cast clown their way through the story of a shoemaker who needs help finishing his wonderful stock of sparkly footwear.

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Albany Theatre , New Cross Sunday April 2 2017 - Sunday April 30 2017

Red Riding Hood And The Wolf

Little Angel's new show tells the story of 'Red Riding Hood and the Wolf' from a paw-some new viewpoint. The big bad wolf explains why he's a lot nicer than he seems, in a smart reimagining of the classic fairy story by playwright Jon Barton. Ages five-plus.

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Little Angel Theatre , Islington Thursday April 27 2017 - Sunday July 16 2017
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Theatre for young children (0-4)

How To Hide A Lion

Iris has a brand new friend, but she knows her family and friends won't love him quite as much as she does. This story of a girl trying to hide a lion in all sorts of devious ways is adapted by Peter Glanville from Helen Stephen's children's story, and will feature songs by singer-songwriter Barb Jungr. There are two versions: one for todders ages 1-2, and another for kids ages 3-6. Check the Polka Theatre website for full details. 

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Little Angel Theatre , Islington Wednesday March 8 2017 - Sunday March 19 2017

Glisten

'Glisten' is an interactive show for babies is inspired by the marvellous world of shiny, shiny foil. It's the result of a collaboration between artists Daniel Naddafy and Phoebe Stubbs. A dark theatre will fill with rustly, reflective surfaces, creating a gentle sensory landscape for them to explore. Ages 0-18 months.

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Half Moon Young People's Theatre , Limehouse Thursday April 6 2017

Dough!

Whether it's a sponge cake, a Yorkshire pudding, or a naan bread, we all love a bit of dough. This kids' show by Olivia Furber's uses the sights, smells and sounds of baking to explore what communities have in common. Ages three-plus.

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Albany Theatre , New Cross Saturday April 15 2017

The Homeless Panda

Journey through China's Min Mountains in this puppet-filled family show from HodgePodge Theatre. It's the story of a homeless panda who has to go in search of love - and bamboo - and meets a host of animals along the way. Ages three-plus.

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Little Angel Theatre , Islington Sunday April 9 2017 - Monday April 10 2017

Sarah And Duck's Big Top Birthday

CBeebies stars 'Sarah & Duck' hit the stage for the first time at Wimbledon's Polka Theatre. They're holding a big top birthday party for the scarf lady who lives in the garden, in a giggle-worthy adventure with puppets, stories and songs. Aimed at ages three to six, all ages welcome.

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Polka Theatre , South Wimbledon Thursday April 6 2017 - Sunday May 14 2017
See more of the best London shows for little ones

Theatre for all the family

Matilda the Musical

Recommended

'My mummy says I'm a miracle,' lisps a pampered mini-me at a purgatorial kiddies' birthday party at the outset of this delicious, treacly-dark family show. The obnoxious ma and pa of its titular, gifted, pint-sized heroine are not, of course, quite so doting. But 'Matilda' must be making its creators, playwright Dennis Kelly and comedian-songsmith Tim Minchin, a very pair of proud parents. Opening to rave reviews in Stratford-upon Avon before transferring to the West End in 2011 and snatching up Olivier Awards with all the alacrity of a sticky-fingered child in a sweetshop, Matthew Warchus's RSC production remains a treat. With hindsight, Kelly and Minchin's musical, born of the 1988 novel by that master of the splendidly grotesque Roald Dahl, is a little too long and, dramatically, a tad wayward. But like curly-haired little girl in the famous nursery rhyme, when it is good, it is very, very good. And it's even better when it's horrid. The past few months have seen some cast changes, including, alas, the departure of Bertie Carvel's tremendous Miss Trunchbull, headmistress of the dread Crunchem Hall School, former Olympic hammer-thrower and a gorgon of monumental nastiness, complete with scarily Thatcher-esque tics of purse-lipped gentility and faux concern. David Leonard doesn't quite match the squirm-inducing, hair-raising detail of Carvel in the role, but his more butch, granite-faced version is fantastically horrible nonetheless. And if Paul Kaye as Matilda's loathsom

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Cambridge Theatre , Covent Garden Until Sunday October 15 2017

The Iron Man

Recommended

They may share a name, but Ted Hughes’s Iron Man is about as far from Marvel’s as you can get. Whereas Tony Stark is all about money and snide humour, Hughes’s 1968 story veils its anti-war message behind the story of a scrap metal-eating robot and a boy whom he befriends. In his stage adaptation, using a mixture of puppetry, silhouette and animation, Matthew Robins finds the story’s playful heart. He summons a world of imagination and play by using every trick in the book, but chief among them is the restless, shifting sense of perspective throughout. One minute the Iron Man is barely a foot tall, a collection of matchbox-sized bits of cardboard and sticky tape as if made by an imaginative child; the next he’s 13 feet, a towering, dopey-looking robot with torchlight eyes. For the first 20 minutes or so Nima Taleghani’s narration comes only in short bursts, interspersed with silent puppetry - seeing the scattered limbs of the Iron Man pull themselves into a gargantuan whole is thrilling - or crude Rorschach smudges of animation projected onto the back wall. But when the story gets into full swing and the ‘Space-Bat-Angel-Dragon’ invades Earth the show becomes completely captivating. With so many different techniques Robins risks making it too bitty, unbound by any one single approach. But by the end, as our solar system is conjured in miniature with a twinkling orrery of empty tin cans and lampshades, the thrust of Robins’s interpretation is clear. From this fable about d

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Unicorn Theatre , London Bridge Until Sunday March 5 2017
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Comments

6 comments
Lucy Limon
Lucy Limon

Which play does that top photo show, the one with the train steaming down the middle of the theatre?? That looks amazing. Thanks

Lucy Limon
Lucy Limon

Which play does that top photo show, the one with the train steaming down the middle of the theatre?? That looks amazing. Thanks

Andrzej
Andrzej

Re: Elaine: the smaller theatres tend to be represented more by the 'for children' and 'for young children' tabs at the top of the screen - if you click on them you'll see shows at the Little Angel et al, it's just that the genuinely 'family friendly' shows (ie anyone of any age could see them) tend to gravitate towards the West End while the specialist children's theatre tend to put on shows that are actively aimed at children only. Might rethink this one if it's not clear!

elaine turner
elaine turner

this sight is too west end based- what is needed is some information regarding small theatres that we can take our kids to without getting a new mortgage