IMAGINE watching a film and then being picked up and dropped right in the middle of the movie, writes Mark Masters.

That is exactly what The Penguin & I feels like.

This is the Christmas performance at Shelley Theatre, that is showing every night until Sunday, December 23.

Let’s just say that this is not a panto, it doesn’t fit into a box, but sometimes what doesn’t fit, actually works.The audience moves around the main rooms of the theatre, from the bar, the Mulberry Room and the main theatre.

Even walking into the theatre you could sense something that did not resemble a typical night out. A 6ft penguin was walking around Beechwood Avenue, where the theatre is located, to the characters interacting in the bar before anything had started.

To sum the story up in one sentence, it is a man chasing a penguin through his dreams. That may sound abstract, but that’s the world the audience are picked up and transported to.

When it comes to the chasing, the audience are involved but guided, every step of the way. From the bar, we enter the Mulberry Room where there is activity happening in different corners. A highlight is being transfixed on a character rolling in a Cyr wheel, performing acrobatic moves. This is where things start to move up a level.

The next part of the evening, we all moved into a different room, the main theatre, to continue the story. By having this element of movement, adds a pulse that does not detract from the performance and just the awe of the creativity of how a team of people utilise a space.

When intermission arrives the acrobatics continues in front of the audience. This presents an evening at the theatre you would definitely not had been a part of before. When it comes to sitting down for the final section of the show back in the main theatre, you could sense that everyone was part of something that they had not witnessed before.

That is what makes Penguin & I so entertaining and intriguing, it does not fit into a genre. It is not the circus, but there is acrobatics, it is not theatre, but there is performance.

This is why the whole evening felt like being part of a movie, where you are transported into different scenes and get the 360-degree views and even interacting with the characters in real time.

It is fascinating, it is mesmerising, it is gratifying. If you are looking for a Christmas performance that is unlike any other this year, then you are in for a fantastic evening. Highly recommended.

To book your tickets for The Penguin & I call the box office on 01202 413 600 or visit