Groups of children jumped up and down, shouting “Peppa” in unison as they waited in anticipation to see the famous cartoon British pig take center stage. Their impatient calls were soon answered as some college students’ nightmares emerged: giant, life-size pigs and their faceless puppeteers.
On Tuesday, Nov. 29, parents, children and some University of Montana students gathered in UM’s Adams Center to watch the live performance of “Peppa Pig’s Adventure,” a production by Round Room Live, producer and promoter of exhibitions and family show entertainment. The play follows Peppa, her family and friends on an “outdoor adventure.”
Since Peppa Pig took to the screen in 2004, the rumors surrounding the beloved character have only grown more outlandish. The preschool pig has stirred online commotion among Gen Z-ers who have taken to platforms, such as Twitter and TikTok, to discuss conspiracies around Peppa being 7 feet tall, having four eyes and the dark origins of her upbringing.
While you can take a breath of fresh air knowing that Peppa only stands about 3 feet high with only two haunting and emotionless eyes, your fear of cartoon pigs is not invalid. After witnessing “Peppa Pig’s Adventure,” viewers can validly shift their fears to the true terrors of the show: Madame Gazelle, Mommy Pig and Daddy Pig, who tower over the audience. They actually might be 7 feet tall.
If that isn’t nightmare fuel enough, the smaller puppets on stage were operated by highly visible puppeteers dressed in all black. This, combined with pig giants, created an unsettling ambiance reminiscent of a scene out of the animatronic horror video game, “Five Nights at Freddy’s.”
Fortunately or unfortunately, for a self-titled tour, the spotlight failed to shine Peppa’s way. Contradictory to the show’s name, the main character was Daisy, the only human character, aside from Santa, who showed up in the final act to perform “Jingle Bells.”
With the puppeteers controlling Peppa and her friends, and the abnormally large size of the adult figures in the play, it’s somewhat understandable why Peppa was outshined by a cast of mostly giants. But for a touring show, it lacked character development and was barely hanging on by musical numbers that, aside from appealing to the (mostly children) audience, failed to add any meaning to the storyline.
While the show’s set list may not have saved the play, the soundtrack itself, “Peppa’s Adventures: The Album,” has managed to receive a 6.5-star rating on Pitchfork Media. This rating puts the album on the same playing field as Taylor Swift’s “Reputation.”
Peppa’s songs might not be fueled by the vengeance of 2017 Swift, and Peppa might not have been the top artist on many listeners’ Spotify Wrapped, but if Peppa and her crew keep producing hit songs such as “Bing Bong Zoo,” and children keep listening, who knows if the next Swift is sitting in the audience, or is Peppa herself.
The songs were amusing enough and children danced, clapped and hollered absurd things back to the puppets on stage, but the unsettling aura of Peppa Pig never dissipated. The scenes for songs “Bing Bong Zoo,” and nursery rhymes like “Hickory Dickory Dock,” were almost reminiscent of haunting scenes from the “Hunger Games” franchise.
Looking past the questionable plot, possibly over-rated soundtrack and the overall lack of Peppa, the most successful component of the show was the interactive learning experience it created for young children. The character of Daisy engaged the children from the start, and the efficient use of lighting, sound effects and backdrops carried the show and transported viewers into a decently realistic cartoon world but still did not distract from the unnerving dark undertone of it all.
Maybe “Peppa Pig’s Adventures” should model themselves after “Winnie The Pooh” and become a cheesy horror movie instead.