A “Sensacional” Day Out

Today was our second attempt to take Thomas to Sensacional at the Unicorn Theatre. We’re big Unicorn fans. What’s not to love about a theatre catering specifically for young people? We’ve already taken Thomas to two shows there, one of which was mentioned here and the other – Not Now, Bernard, which I still haven’t got around to writing about. (Suffice it to say: it’s currently on tour, if it’s playing near you then GO!) Thomas clearly feels the same, as when we arrived this time and he realised where we were going, he immediately demanded to know “what are we going to see?” whilst jumping up and down.

We had originally booked tickets for Sensacional, based on excellent reviews from last year, for two weeks ago. Sadly, upon arrival we were told that the performer was ill and so the show was cancelled. Luckily we were able to rebook for today’s final performance and despite the fact that it meant we had a double booking (this morning’s adventures coming up in another post) I knew we had to go.

Image source: Unicorn Theatre
Image source: Unicorn Theatre

Sensacional is an interactive performance for toddlers led by a lone dancer using images projected on to a large screen that doubles as a dance floor. Children are invited to dress up in a white suit in order to become part of the show. The huge tubs of clothes presented our first problem, along with the large open space of the performance area, as all Thomas wanted to do (after insisting that his trains also get dressed up, of course) was race around and pull clothes out of the baskets. You can imagine how laundry day goes down in our house! As we wrestled tug-of-war style with strings of white trousers, the projection began.

Then something amazing happened. Thomas really engaged. He engaged with the performer, dancing and following her moves. And he engaged with the visuals. He spun himself around on top of a spinning flower. He followed a caterpillar made of hearts as it snaked across the floor. He chased bugs and alien creatures. He “swam” in a lake chattering away about splishing and splashing and finally pretended to be a duck.

We were captivated by his captivation.

Not only was this more than worth the ten pound ticket charge (for all three of us) I could actually see this being a fantastic regular toddler group activity. It would even offer the opportunity for worn out parents to drink coffee and chatter whilst their offspring were so absorbed – something that doesn’t happen at most toddler groups I’ve attended, where my close attention is required to mediate squabbles over toys and the supply of snacks! Having it as a recurring group would also allow slightly greater direction from the performer, who necessarily in this case was following a set choreography, but possibly at the expense of engaging or inspiring some less willing participants. (That isn’t a criticism at all, it’s just that I can see this concept, harnessed in a slightly different way, being such a massive springboard for growing imaginations.)

The only minor disappointment for me was that the projection was formed of two identical twenty minute halves (no break). Whilst this clearly allows children to pick up on parts they missed the first time,  and probably simplifies production, Thomas realised the second half was a repeat and became much less engaged. Even rotating the visuals by 90 or 180 degrees might have added enough extra interest.

But despite that, he still loved it, and told us himself how much he had enjoyed it.

“That was really fun” he said, with a look of satisfaction.

What more can you ask?!


We are not affiliated with the Unicorn Theatre in any way, and purchased our own ticket for this performance. All views and opinions, as always, are mine. And Thomas’s!


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