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Today a friend of mine was unable to go to Alien’s Love Underpants at the Underbelly Festival on the Southbank and very kindly gave us their tickets. So we quickly got ourselves together and headed into town to catch the show. I always forget how much there is to do on the Southbank. I think having grown up in London I take stuff for granted and just stay within my local comfort zone rather than looking at the events that are going on literally just down the road. It took someone else being confined due to the chicken pox to get us checking out something new during the school holidays. It was totally worth going so whilst I am sad that someone else didn’t get to go it was great for my boys to have the opportunity.
We went to Waterloo on the tube to get to the Southbank and it is literally less than 5 minutes walk to the Underbelly Festival even with two littles in tow so not a tricky journey. We ended up being really early and so the boys got to have a good play on the climbing playground which they just loved and probably would have been happy being the only activity we did. I managed to drag them away eventually and off we headed to the festival.
The Underbelly Festival has been running on the Southbank every year for the past ten years. This has somehow totally escaped me, but I will certainly be looking out for it next year. The festival is all about bringing live entertainment to the heart of London. It includes comedy, cabaret, circus and family shows from April to September.
The whole area is really well set up with outdoor bars, street food and outdoor seating as well as the live show space. The theatre is undercover and enclosed, but not heated from what I could tell today. Today was a pretty cold day and I did not take my coat off when in the show, but the theatre was not quite full so not as much body heat as there could be. I wasn’t cold at any point and was perfectly comfortable, but it was also not roasting. I think on a summer’s evening it would be so lovely to go and have a drink and some food before and after a show.
Also top tip – they have toilets in the festival which are clean and free so don’t do what I did and spend the princely sum of 50p to go in the toilets just outside the festival. Yes I am tight and really begrudge 50p for a pee!
The show is around 50 mins long and brings to life the Aliens Love Underpants book. If you haven’t seen these books definitely check them out. There is a whole series of books with the most fantastically colourful illustrations. My kids love them. The very fact they are about pants makes them a winner in this house! The Aliens Love Underpants show is very kid friendly show. They are encouraged to join in and shout loudly when they see the aliens and it is lively throughout. There is a small cast of just 5 who play all of the roles through quick costume changes and the use of alien puppets.
They are all very talented and start the engagement with the children from the minute they appear. There is no formal start to the show instead the cast come out and mingle with the audience. Chatting to the children and handing out pants. They tell the children that they need to help them protect the pants. This really connects the children with the story and lets them know that they are part of it. My just 5 year old was beside himself with excitement shouting every time he saw an alien. He was transfixed and just loved the show from start to finish. He said straight away that he wanted to go back again.
The show has some of those clever jokes where parents get it, but children don’t necessarily and a few catchy tunes. I thought the finale song was especially good and my sons were singing it on the way home. It is a lively performance that keeps moving and is just the right length for little people. I saw children from babes in arms to probably 8 in the audience. My eldest is almost 7 and he said he really liked it. He was laughing, but he was not as enthusiastic as his younger brother. The age guideline says 3+. I reckon 4-5 is probably the ideal age group to really be able to join in. Although having said that I am sure my almost 3 year olds would still like it even if just for the singing and the puppets.
All in all we had a great morning. I was really grateful to my friend for giving us the tickets and that we live close enough to central London to be able to do something like that last minute. Aliens Love Underpants is running until the 3rd June. If you live near London I totally recommend it as something to do with your littles. It is on during the week and the weekend with tickets still available most days. There are also many other shows on during the festival. I am sure we will be heading back there for something else before it closes.