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946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips

Members say: Great staging, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining, Enchanting

About the show

Kneehigh uses live music, puppetry, dance, and visual high jinks in this adaptation of Michael Morpurgo's book about soldiers prepping for the battle of Normandy.

... Read more

Directed by Emma Rice (artistic director of Shakespeare’s Globe), '946' is the true story of the American soldiers sent to rehearse the Normandy invasion from Britain's shores, many of them black. Seen through the eyes of a little girl and her beloved cat, '946' overturns everything we thought we knew about the D-Day landings. Based on the novel by Michael Morpurgo ('War Horse'). Appropriate for ages 10 and up, though be warned it is a war story.

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See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

The New York Times

“Loads of puppets and Rice’s customary practice of putting instruments in the hands of her excellent actors lend a pleasing whimsy to ‘946’…Rice does not shy from the grimness of the military disaster...It is horribly moving. Yet in the show’s most demonstrative emotional moment, Rice and Morpurgo are heavy-handed just when they should be restrained…Those are the only times, though, that this fine production loses its poise. The rest of it is all about balance: of mirth and sorrow." Full Review


"Kneehigh is known for its bold theatrical choices, and '946' doesn't shy away from them—even if it doesn't add up to the same impact of some of its previous productions...Has a tendency to feel reminiscent of Morpurgo's biggest hit to date, 'War Horse'...'946' feels slightly less original than it should...But we have to hand it to director Rice and her team, who've managed to create a version of Brechtian alienation that children will understand, even if it doesn't pan out all the way.” Full Review

Time Out New York

“I certainly bridled—and the trouble began early…We're in a sugar-coated World War Twee where everyone was wonderful to everybody…There's a long, proud history of telling the story of wartime through children's (comparatively) innocent eyes…But ‘Adolphus Tips’ never questions the rose-colored glasses; rather, Rice and Morpugo are jamming them onto our faces…I fell off the ride early, and for two hours, I suffered.” Full Review

Lighting & Sound America

"The play becomes genuinely moving near the end…But for a long stretch of its running time, ‘946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips’ skates very lightly over its most emotionally potent material, entertaining the audience in a way that doesn't always feel fully honest…'Tips' certainly knows how to make its audience happy...Still, there's a darker, more moving story inside, still waiting to get out. You can bring the entire family to this production -- and, oddly, that may be its weakest point." Full Review

The Huffington Post

“What ‘946: The Amazing Story Of Adolphus Tips’ lacks — almost aggressively — is any sense of time and place…Artistic director Emma Rice has tossed in everything here, including a panto-style of performance entirely at odds with the bittersweet material…A show where most every choice is misguided…They drain away all the drama, nuance and texture of the book…I’d say Kneehigh has lost its way, but in fact it seems more like Kneehigh has been lost for a long time.” Full Review

New York Daily News

"This charming and surprisingly touching creation by author Michael Morpurgo, director Emma Rice and the ever-inventive British Kneehigh Theatre Company. A talented multitasking ensemble and a merry band of musicians recall a dark slice of World War II...Don’t let puppets and toy soldiers and battleships fool you, there’s more here than just child’s play." Full Review

Theater Pizzazz

"It’s an enchanting show about a tragic event – if such a paradox is possible...An entertaining and deeply moving theatrical experience. Her stagecraft is nothing short of magical...Rice directs a marvelous, multi-talented 12-member ensemble who dance, sing, play multiple roles, and manipulate scores of puppets...Ultimately, credit goes to the vision of the amazing Emma Rice." Full Review

Show Showdown

"So bubbly, energetic, and wacky that a few times during the performance, I was surprised by how suddenly I found myself choking up...Never heavy-handed or overwrought, '946' manages to tell a gentle, genuinely moving tale without cutting back on the clowning, drag, broad humor, music, and energetic dance...A highly spirited and inventive production, '946' lifted me out of troubled times present without ever spilling into saccharine nostalgia for troubled times past." Full Review

Stage Buddy

"A rich theatrical family-friendly evening of story, music, dance and puppets...This Kneehigh show continually captures our hearts...The cast is led by Katy Owen as Lily, played to perfection...'946: The Amazing Story of Adolphus Tips' demands an attention and a collective imagination from the viewer, making it a special theatrical treat. St Ann’s Warehouse is to be commended for giving Kneehigh a New York home!" Full Review

Financial Times (UK)

for a previous production "It features all the now-familiar Kneehigh trademarks: music, meta-theatrical cleverness, actor Mike Shepherd in implausible drag, and a fundamental undertow of sadness beneath the onstage capers. Katy Owen is puckishly endearing as young Lily, but Ncuti Gatwa and Nandi Bhebhe as the GIs are sold short by a script that seldom engages with the obviously significant racial dimension...It’s simply a romp with occasional, dutiful sombre faces, and which is soon over, to no clear point." Full Review

The Stage (UK)

for a previous production "In this delightful family show, Rice provides a gripping, moving portrait of a community under siege…The Globe becomes an ideal arena for connecting its audience directly to the story, played out with an aching, fresh tenderness and surprise by its cast. The delightful Katy Owen plays lead role Lily, while Kneehigh artistic director Mike Shepherd doubles beautifully as her grandfather in the past and grandmother in the present." Full Review

The Independent (UK)

for a previous production "Theatre's love affair with Morpurgo continues with this stage version of his novella...It makes for a winningly rumbustious family show, spilling over with song and dance and inventive cheek, that movingly affirms life in the face of the tragedy at its heart...I'm not sure that they've yet achieved the ideal balance between inspiring sentiment and inspired silliness and the proceedings feel a bit padded-out, but the sheer verve of the ensemble should delight punters of all ages." Full Review

The London Evening Standard

for a previous production "'Adolphus Tips' brims with the imagination and invention that we’ve come to expect from Kneehigh, blending a carefree, homespun sort of charm with top-notch ensemble playing...It’s played a little too much for laughs and the storytelling tends to the meandering, but what wins us round each time is the fact that the piece is brimful of heart. There’s sadness but also lots of hope. It’s Morpurgo’s specialty spell, and in Kneehigh, Rice and the Globe he has found fine accomplice magicians." Full Review

The Guardian (UK)

for a previous production "This family show mixes carnival and tragedy in a series of mash-ups, both merry and sad...The register shifts from poignant reunions to cartoon episodes...'War Horse' has given the combination of puppetry and Michael Morpurgo a powerful theatrical pedigree. '946' does not have the same steamroller power. Yet alongside its musical bounce it lands a strong argument...The stage is full of characters who should make audiences think again about the word 'migrant.'" Full Review

What's On Stage (UK)

for a previous production "Largely a feel-good, all-ages tale told with Kneehigh's customary agility and flair...Owen is astonishingly good...The action is presented with wit and verve...Although '946' has a fabulously footloose, skipping energy, it's a shame its story structure follows suit. Most of the narrative simply hops from minor event to minor event, and too much of it feels bitty and insubstantial...It takes a good while for the story to hit its beats. When it does, there's much to enjoy." Full Review

Time Out London

for a previous production "This is part-history lesson, part-variety show: highlights include a song played on beer bottles, entrances on a fireman’s pole, and Winston Churchill performing a skipping display...And that makes for a weirdly meandering, disjointed pace, which flounders through all the shades of moral grey this story throws up. But somehow, there’s enough silliness, jazz and heartwarming sap to jolly us through to a joyful ending that’s more than just tickety boo." Full Review

The Times (UK)

for a previous production “Like all Rice’s work, this production is full of boisterous collective energy — and the occasional moments of clodding earnestness…Yet there’s so much heart here that it feels mean-spirited to quibble. It’s hard to take our eyes off thirtysomething Katy Owen’s lithe, livewire performance as a skittish young Lily. There’s loss and darkness, but perfectly pitched for a family show. My merry band of junior critics were enthralled while I found myself blinking back tears.” Full Review

A Younger Theatre

for a previous production "Championing innovation like this has its price. '946' is tonally inconsistent, particularly in the first half, and for a show about World War II, strikingly emotionally dry. This is partly the fault of an uneven cast, but it’s also the direct consequence of Kneehigh’s unwaveringly swashbuckling approach...Although it’s refreshing to see so many under-12s flocking the yard, one imagines their appreciation of Morpurgo’s finer emotional lessons might be lost amongst all Rice’s noise." Full Review

A Younger Theatre

for a previous production "There’s a wonderful host of classic Kneehigh-style characters, with an ensemble packed to the rafters with cross-dressing, energy and sheer commitment. I must commend the whole company for this – each performance is a gem in its own right...It’s full of comedy, occasional darkness and heartfelt poignancy. It’s a well-balanced, joyous night out that leaves you with a smile on your face, and reminds you of the power, authenticity and delight that underpins Kneehigh’s theatre." Full Review

See: Critics' Reviews | Members' Reviews

Absorbing, Delightful, Enchanting, Resonant, Great staging

See it if Fun family friendly musical that is moving, engaging, and educational.

Don't see it if You like something more literal

Underwhelming, Fluffy, High energy, Family fare, Sanitized take on war

See it if you're taking your kids to a show (10+ yrs old, please). You like your war tales sugarcoated & saccharine-sweet.

Don't see it if you want nuanced characters (they're all caricatures) or are expecting a lot of puppetry (it's cute, but brief).

Also 1st act wasn't engaging. 2nd act opened with the most compelling & cle... Read more Read less

Ambitious, Intelligent, Riveting, Moving, Heartwarming

See it if you enjoy adventurous theatre. Also, theatre that is exciting, heartwarming, and very moving. Great ensemble cast!

Don't see it if you only like conventional plays. This play is very inventive, clever, sharp, and moving.

Original, Enchanting, Great acting, Resonant, Great staging

See it if Hopefully this lovely, touching play will come back to another venue sometime soon. Kneehigh Theater's joy and laughter are contagious

Don't see it if themes of unnecessary death in WWII would be too upsetting; it's sad, but it's beautifully done, with a light touch where necessary

Absorbing, Delightful, Enchanting, Great acting, Great staging

See it if You want to experience a fantastic story told through music, dance, puppetry, vivid color, larger-than-life acting & grand storytelling!

Don't see it if You aren't up for a bit of World War II and the characters & events that period of history invokes. Be willing to see through child's eyes!

Ambitious, Clever, Delightful, Refreshing, Great staging

See it if you enjoy creative staging with music, puppets and dance, appreciate stories of optimism amidst misery and like quirky appealing characters

Don't see it if you're turned off by WWII story told with humor, song & dance set during the London blitz, not a fan of cute puppets or active little girls

Slow, Great staging

See it if You want to see very inventive staging, despite a book that is 20-30 minutes too long. If you are patient, it's a sweet story at it's core.

Don't see it if You appreciate good pacing. The Director also was the co-adaptor of the script. What's needed is a good dramaturge to edit it.

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Resonant, Great staging

See it if You enjoy unusual approaches to storytelling.

Don't see it if You prefer traditional plays and staging.

Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you would enjoy a wonderfully creative and energetic musical that is superbly crafted and performed

Don't see it if you are in the mood for something serious, but try to change your mood and go to see this

Funny, Absorbing, Enchanting, Masterful, Great staging

See it if you're a fan of Kneehigh's work or if you enjoy a riveting true story told through the lens of brilliantly creative stage craft.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy puppetry, historical plays or heightened theatricality. If so, we can't be friends.

Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Entertaining

See it if you like to be entertained.

Don't see it if you don't want good entertainment

Clever, Great acting, Entertaining, Great music, Great staging

See it if story of British villagers impacted by a tragic WWII event, told with humor & great music; puppets (humans visible) that add to the story

Don't see it if don't like high energy performances, that often break the 4th wall, puppets, fluid band member/actor performances, fun

Clever, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if You want to see an inventive show with puppets, music and a talented cast.

Don't see it if You are unwilling to go to a show in Brooklyn; the theater is on the waterfront in Dumbo

Funny, Entertaining, Great music, Great staging, Great dancing

See it if you want great, varied music, dancing, singing, puppets, humor, history and a moral, all performed by a diversely talented cast.

Don't see it if you don't enjoy history and/or musicals.

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Must see, Great staging

See it if You want to see an enchanting and " splendiferous " show that mixes music, puppetry, dancing and of course acting.

Don't see it if You think theater has to be old school. There is nothing " old " in this production, maybe not Kneehigh best show but it is still great

Delightful, Enchanting, Exquisite, Profound, Great singing

See it if You want to see beautiful storytelling! This is charming and childlike but not childish with very serious and heartbreaking content.

Don't see it if You're not willing to use your imagination or if you think that just because something is silly it can't be devestatingly heartfelt.

Also I ADORED this show and recommend it to anyone/everyone who may be feel... Read more Read less

Enchanting, Epic, Masterful, Riveting, Great staging

See it if You enjoy imaginative stagings (with puppets and music) of historical fiction and real events.

Don't see it if You dislike YA novels. You like a story where each elements is tied up at the end.

Clever, Quirky, Indulgent, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you liked "Warhorse" and/or previous Kneehigh productions or if you are a fan of the book.

Don't see it if you are looking for a bit more narrative and character complexity than one usually finds in a children's book.

Also The staging is brilliantly inventive, the narrative itself is much les... Read more Read less

Clever, Delightful, Enchanting, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if you're interested in Kneehigh's brand of whimsy and life-affirming theatrical charm. Great music. Great design. A real fun night out.

Don't see it if you are expecting Kneehigh's very BEST. I really enjoyed this piece but felt earlier work by the company (Tristan/Yseult) had been stronger.

Also The second act is leaps and bounds stronger than the first, be sure to... Read more Read less

Clever, Enchanting, Great staging, It's a magical show

See it if you want to believe in the intrinsic goodness of humanity

Don't see it if puppets creep you out which is generally true for me but not this time.

Absorbing, Enchanting, Great acting, Resonant, Entertaining

See it if Love magic, good music, funny, puppets

Don't see it if You don't like magical, good wtiting and acting

Clever, Enchanting, Thought-provoking, Must see, Great staging

See it if You want to see something absolutely unique brilliantly cross-cast. A bit slow developing, an old story spun brand new. ALIVE.

Don't see it if You dont like plays not easily defined. You didn't like the "magic" of War Horse. You dont want a "lucky button".

Also The audience notably thinned at the intermission, but those who stayed... Read more Read less

Creative, Exquisite, Charming, Great staging, Just about perfect

See it if You like creative shows using puppetry and unusual staging to tell the story. Kneehigh is one of the most inventive theatre companies ever!

Don't see it if Just go see it - it's fabulous.

Clever, Intelligent, Must see, Entertaining, Great staging

See it if you like whimsical well told stories. Puppets are great, actors playing kids fabulous. Background of WW2 mistake makes it bittersweet.

Don't see it if don't miss it.

Funny, Absorbing, Clever, Delightful, Entertaining

See it if you like totally kooky and original anarchic and joyful theater and undeniable unstoppable diverse talent

Don't see it if you want easy to digest, happy go lucky theater, or if you don't like historical political themes

Cast & Creatives (24)