Upstairs at the Lemon Tree, Goldilocks (Christie Mitchell) is giving a masterclass on sneaking into other people's houses.
Some very giggly under-sevens are trying to tip-toe quietly, because we too are going to be doing some sneaking. We're going to be visiting the scene of Goldilocks's infamous nursery crime: the Bears' House where porridge was stolen, a chair was vandalised and a bed was illegally slept in.
Oooh, but she's a bad 'un, for all her pretty ways. Now, she's bent on another house call – and this is where the SYT production triumphs. It makes the story into a journey where we crowd into the cosy, Christmassy home of Mother Bear (Michelle Bruce) and Baby Bear (Martin Quinn), before taking another step – through a shimmery curtain – into a winter wonderland of glistening white trees and soft white floor covering. This is where Daddy Bear tends the magic reindeer for You-Know-Who's sled. They've gone to Lapland, but Mummy and Baby make us welcome and play joining-in games with us that include a session of porridge-making.
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But who's that hiding under the table? Yup, it's Goldilocks, protesting that she's only here to make amends. Generous-hearted Mummy Bear is all for reconciliation, but Baby Bear harbours grudges and a guilty conscience – there should be a choccy bar behind a certain door on the advent calendar, but somebody's scoffed it ... So when we all get back from the Snow Garden to find the Bears' home trashed like before, who's not to believe it was Goldilocks?
Fraser MacLeod's twist on the tale works a treat, actively drawing the tinies into sorting out the truth. Baby Bear is encouraged to be contrite, Goldilocks proves a good egg, forgiveness is all-embracing like a hug of goodwill, and SYT lets the magic of live theatre sneak up on everyone.
Too Many Penguins? had already established its high-end credentials last year at the MacRobert Centre, and subsequently with the 2012 CATS award for best children's show. The Frozen Charlotte team has done some tweaking since, but the piece retains every charming quirk and jolly sight gag. A re-cast polar bear, Mr Polaro (Joe Douglas), says more now but basically his pukka, reclusive lifestyle is still humourously conveyed through body language, facial expression and a fondness for things to stay just so. The irrepressible Nicola Jo Cully, all rapid "parlare" chatter and genial chivvying, returns as Penguina as do the cast of wee cuddly penguins who invade Mr Polaro's home and heart. They pop out from the most unlikely places, much to the glee of wee ones who, at the end, get their mitts on the toys. But, like all good Traverse-goers should, they give the props back at the end.