CBeebies' favourites will not disappoint toddlers at Northampton theatre show

Live action from In The Night Garden
Live action from In The Night Garden

The theme tune of the CBeebies favourite 'In The Night Garden' has been the common soundtrack to my children's bedtimes for nearly five years.

The' plinkety plonk' opening music automatically brings with it now the calm feeling that sleep is around the corner (my children are good sleepers, thankfully).

My eldest daughter, now five, was obsessed with the programme at a young age and I still remember her tearful goodbyes when she finally met Upsy Daisy after the live show in Birmingham a few years ago.

Now she has become less interested in it, but her younger sister, Grace (aged two), is the bigger fan.

Grace skipped into Northampton's Royal & Derngate very excitedly this week to enjoy her first theatre experience in the form of In The Night Garden Live.

As Grace has a visual impairment, I was very pleased to land front row seats to stand a fighting chance of her seeing some of the characters and, luckily, the experiment worked as she could see and enjoy a lot of the action, apart from when the smaller puppets were used further back in the stage.

In The Night Garden is not the right show to go to for drama and cliffhangers, but it did get pretty tense for a while when Igglepiggle couldn't work out where a funny noise was coming from.

Fortunately, during the course of his investigations, the fluffy blue, blanket-wielding hero found his friends and a lot of fun was had in the meantime.

The action is delivered in a similar format to the TV show, with some images - such as the sleepy child having his or her hand stroked in a circular pattern - projected on to a curtained backdrop.

The stage is also populated by a team of skilful puppeteers, who manoeuvre the smaller characters around the stage. At times the action is taken over by full-sized, costumed characters.

All the familiar favourites from the show were there, including the tiny Pontipine figures and the flying machine, the Pinky Ponk. One of the magical moments came when the Pinky Ponk appeared to fly above the heads of the audience, which really inspired wonder in many of the young fans.

At an hour long, the production is the perfect length for an audience mostly made up of young toddlers and babies. There also seemed to be enough variety in characters, action, sounds and music to quickly direct attention back to the stage if it wandered off.

In the Night Garden is a beautiful, entertaining show which, I'm sure, will provide many of its young fans with memories to last long after they are too old to worry any more about why Igglepiggle isn't in bed.

In the Night Garden completes its run at Royal and Derngate today (Wednesday, September 18). For details, see www.royalandderngate.co.uk