Hi-diddle-dee-tea at the national theatre review the week portfolio apple crumble top pie recipe

“always let your conscience be your guide.” so says jiminy cricket in pinocchio, and as life lessons go, it’s a good one. That said, you may want to ignore yours if you try the latest less-than-virtuous afternoon tea on offer at the national theatre’s house restaurant.

The hi-diddle-dee-tea has been created to celebrate pinocchio coming to the stage at the national, on london’s south bank. The new production features songs from disney’s classic 1940 version of the children’s tale – including when you wish upon a star, give a little whistle, and of course, hi-diddle-dee-dee – and is the work of one of the writers behind matilda the musical, and the director of harry potter and the cursed child. With such a pedigree, audience expectations are high – but this clever staging delivers, with an enjoyable undercurrent of eeriness thrown in for good measure.


In a witty reversal, pinocchio, the puppet who wants to be human, is played by an actor, while the other major characters are played by giant-size puppets, which are manipulated by poles and borne on the shoulders of actors on whom they are modelled.Jiminy cricket the result is spectacular, as are the “how do they do that?” effects: pinocchio’s nose grows with an audible creak of wood; the blue fairy is a flame that darts about the stage; and in an amazing underwater sequence, pinocchio, geppetto and jiminy cricket “swim” around inside the belly of a whale.

It’s stunning stuff, if a little scary at times – the show is billed as suitable for brave eight-year-olds and above. I took along my own bravish eight-year-old twin daughters, who loved it almost as much as they loved the hi-diddle-dee-tea afterwards.

Inspired by pinocchio’s journey to the cursed pleasure island amusement park, where naughty children run wild and indulge their every whim, the bespoke menu features teeth-buzzingly sweet treats ranging from blue fairy cupcakes to white chocolate and vanilla ice-cream cones coated in pink chocolate and popping candy.

Other stars of the teatime show include the stromboli calzones – delicious whirls of moist pastry smothered in a tangy tomato paste and fresh herbs – and wonderfully fresh finger sandwiches filled with hummus or ham.South bank the mini fruit scones with clotted cream and strawberry jam are an artery-clogging delight, while the younger diners raved about the candyfloss lollipops and the rainbow candyfloss (spot the theme there?).

The drinks go down equally well, with pink lemonade for the children, and a welcome glass of bellini, plus tea or coffee, for grown-up guests. Combined with the warm welcome from the chatty restaurant staff, the hi-diddle-dee-tea will bring out the inner child in even the oldest soul.

And the verdict from our younger reviewers? “it made me eat until I almost popped,” says one. “amazing – and it gave me a sugar rush!” adds the other. High praise indeed.

The hi-diddle-dee tea costs £26.50 per adult and £19.50 per child, and is available monday to saturday afternoons until 31 march; pinocchio runs until 10 april, tickets from £31. National theatre, south bank, london SE1, www.Nationaltheatre.Org.Uk/your-visit/food-and-drink/hi-diddle-dee-tea