Bluey's Big Play

Joe Brumm
Andrew Kay and Cuffe & Taylor with Windmill Theatre Co for BBC Studios
The Lyric, Theatre Royal Plymouth

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Bandit, Bluey and Bingo Credit: Mark Senior
Bandit, Bluey, Bingo and Chilli Heeler Credit: Mark Senior
Bandit Credit: Mark Senior

Mesmerising mischief with a message.

The stage adaption of wholesome Aussie global success Bluey—a cartoon dog and her family—is on tour, selling out across the UK and Ireland, and it’s not hard to see why.

Said to be an original story by Bluey creator Joe Brumm (though somewhat recognisable to the adult fans and featuring familiar owls, xylophones, neighbours and old ladies), life-size puppets—with three operators to each—fill 50 minutes with a tale of separating dad from his phone and beanbag with a smidgen of homily on being a good sister thrown in. And lots of keepy uppy and bubbles too.

Even my just-two-year-old companion was absolutely enthralled and her face a joy to watch as the (somewhat clunky) eyebrow-twitching characters hid the mobile telephone and Bingo copied big sis. Wry comments from role model dad Bandit and witty unflappable mum Chilli (with the recorded voices of Dave McCormack and Melanie Zanetti—no one knows who voices Bluey and Bingo) add adult dimension and inspiration.

But 50 minutes is a long time to fill with what is usually a punchy seven-minute slot, so beautiful birds and comic herons open the show, wiggling their tail feathers and soaring out above the stalls, and the grannies make a guest appearance in the cosy coupe causing mayhem in the garden, but the widespread 30-minute slump coincides with a quiet reflective time in the play—so take snacks.

The set is beautifully simple, moving between the Heelers’ street, sitting room, kids bedroom and garden—all straight out of the popular Disney+ programme (astoundingly, 1.5 billion minutes of the show was watched in the UK in a single week in January 2024).

The walking leaf and Lucky’s dad have cameo roles as the fun unfolds, and ensure you are in the stalls if you want to join in with the mega-size balloons and bubbles which close the show.

Reviewer: Karen Bussell

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