ARMED with Lola’s favourites, pink milk and a Party Ring biscuit (available from the bar for £1), we settled the two year-old in the theatre for Watershed Productions’ treatment of the popular children’s programme Charlie and Lola, based on Lauren Child’s creations.

This charming show, the Christmas offering at The Haymarket, is fun, not silly, sophisticated, yet simple, and contains a bounty of incident for children to enjoy and digest.          

One of its key strengths is the use of the programme’s music and voice talent throughout in a similar manner to the Peppa Pig touring show. So, even though there is difference - actors quite obviously manipulating puppets on stage – there is also comforting continuity for children to immediately tap into.

We join the titular duo first in their shared bedroom, which is in need of a serious tidy up. Lola is procrastinating in her usual weird and wonderful style, having long discussions with her imaginary friend Soren Lorenson, and enraging her brother in the process. BatCat has a stylish moment and poor Charlie’s rocket is a victim of Lola’s persistent mischievousness.       

Later, the tigers join Lola for her bedtime pink milk, the whales pop into the bathtub (a glorious scene) and an initially rather scary ogre is the subject of the bedtime story. 

As ever with children’s theatre, a lot of enjoyment for older audience members can be derived from watching the reactions of the children present, hearing them suddenly exclaim ‘Charlie!’ as he appears on stage, for example, throughout.

Parents will also pick up on the little details and intricacies which hint at how much talent is behind even seemingly simple moments in this production, such as the deft switching of a character’s eyes and mouth, the tigers' tongues or tiny movements, such as the placement of Lola’s legs when she thinks Charlie is upset with her. These, and the outstanding production design, demonstrate that there are indeed expert hands at work.  

Young audiences will also be wholly delighted by two showstopping moments involving butterflies and bubbles, both of which caused the mini theatregoers to jump up out of their seats in excitement during the performance I saw.

Our high maintenance toddler was held spellbound for the duration of the production, occasionally uttering a word in wonderment as she watched, among other delights, a fabulous space rocket shoot into the sky before her saucer-wide eyes.    

Tickets are available from the box office on 01256 844244 or online at