Richard Lewis is once again adapter and director as Peppa Pig comes to the stage for the fifth time.
Peppa Pig’s Adventure is at the Theatre Royal Brighton on Saturday and Sunday, January 20-21 – a balancing act between offering the children what they know and offering something different.
“I would think Peppa Pig was first on air in something like 2004,” Richard says, “and it started below the wire, just growing all the time. If you think of the big historical ones like Thomas the Tank Engine and Thunderbirds, they all started somewhere. But the interesting thing about Peppa Pig is that it still feels like new brand. It is still very modern, and in that respect, it is surprising how far it has gone very quickly.
“The licensors have nurtured Peppa Pig very well. They haven’t gone for a crazy smash and grab. They have developed the brand very carefully and very cleverly. And the two guys Mark and Nev, who create the animation, are key to the mix in the stage show. When we develop a new stage show, I brain-storm with Mark and Nev about which episodes might be good. They don’t write the stage show, but they are very much there.”
So what is Peppa Pig all about?
“I suppose the easy answer is to say that she represents family values. That’s almost the sociologist’s view. But I would take more the psychologist’s view. A lot of the children of pre-school age are asking what is this world and how do they fit into it. With Peppa Pig, they are able to look at the world through Peppa Pig’s eyes. She is described as a slightly-bossy little pig, and the children can watch her test things out, things like relationships and parents and Christmas and going on a plane. The children are able to look at the world through the filament of Peppa Pig’s eyes.
“The 2D animation is very much in pastel colours, and if you had the definition of an all-out action sequence in Peppa Pig, it would be three ducks crossing the road, and that is good. It goes at the speed of a three-year-old’s brain. So in that way she is testing the world. I am not saying that that is Mark and Nev’s mission statement, but there is certainly that element.
“This is Peppa 5 on stage, and I always say that there is not a single person coming along to see it who is wanting to see Richard Lewis’ adaptation of Peppa Pig… except probably my parents! In the paying public, there is no one interested in the fact that it is a stage adaptation. They are wanting to see Peppa Pig. They are wanting to see Peppa Pig in a range of activities that link in with the TV show that they already love, so the first thing we need to do is to replicate what they already know visually and also to replicate the feelings that they already feel.
“But at the same time, there wouldn’t be any point if we weren’t actually doing something different. The children might as well carry on watching the animation which is very good. It’s important for the format that we do something else as well, and we are lucky that we have got various things in our arsenal. Usually they are watching it at home on TV with their brother or sister or parents, but in the theatre we have got a big community which we can work with, and that gives us interactivity in a way that the animation can’t. And we can also use music – interactive and song-based music – in a way that the animation can’t. And there is also the sense of spectacle and colour. We are trying to do something different to the TV, but we still have to keep faithful to the core values.”