KIDS | PREVIEWS & REVIEWS R E V I E W
CHILDREN’S THEATRE ATLANTIS BANAL: BENEATH THE SURFACE Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Thu 21–Sat 23 Nov. Reviewed at Carnegie Hall, Dunfermline lllll
If you could open Shona Reppe’s head and peer inside her imagination, you’d discover a technicolour world of wonder and merriment. How she comes up with the designs and notions for her shows is anyone’s guess, but thank goodness she does. This latest offering is filled with Reppe’s trademark props and
costumes – the kind you can’t take your eyes off, as you try to listen to the equally bizarre words coming out of her mouth. Atlantis Banal, we discover, is a ground-breaking visual artist with a back catalogue of curiously brilliant works. She’s not real, of course, but by the end of the show you wish she was. Atlantis is one of four people we meet upon entering the ‘Pop-up Gallery’, along with the exhibition curator and two gallery attendants (all played by Reppe herself, apart from Graham the much-maligned sidekick). Each character comes with their own look, costume-wise (many of which are works of art in themselves), and a curly wig of varying hues. As always with Reppe, the attention to detail is fabulous, the wit sharp and the delivery delightful.
With all visual art, the setting is often as important as the
content, and the ‘Pop-up Gallery’ doesn’t disappoint. A pristine white floor is framed by benches from which we watch the exhibition grow – with video screens showing a series of short films capturing Banal’s highly successful career.
For the adults in the audience, the pretentiousness is
hilarious, yet the show is based on a true love of visual art. For younger viewers, pleasure comes not from recognition but just pure enjoyment at the colours, upcycled creations and Reppe’s slightly bonkers but always accessible delivery.
Most of all, it makes you want to go home and create an exhibition of your own from some ‘found fashion’. (Kelly Apter)
P H O T O :
M A R K D O U E T
STAGE ADAPTATION BILLIONAIRE BOY King’s Theatre, Glasgow, Wed 15–Sun 19 Jan
One of the creative industry’s most spectacular reinventions of recent times has been that of David Walliams. The Little Britain actor, Britain’s Got Talent judge, and English Channel swimmer’s new career as a children’s author has brought him worldwide recognition. It isn’t just his mischievously grisly writing style that has earned comparisons with Roald Dahl, but the ease with which his work is adapted for the stage. His third novel, Billionaire Boy, is the latest in an increasingly long line. ‘Joe Spud is a boy who has just turned 12,’ says Matthew Gordon (pictured
left), who plays the lead character. ‘He’s the son of a wealthy father who made his fortune inventing a new type of toilet roll, but what he finds himself missing is a friend. So he places himself in the local comprehensive school, and disguises his fortune so he can find one.’ While Walliams’ books are often built around a sense of cheek and gross humour, there are the beginnings of a moral to Billionaire Boy, which is performed on a large moving set themed around loo rolls.
Joe is a kid with a robot butler, a massive television and lots of toys and games, but no one to share them with, especially not his money-obsessed dad. ‘He’s a really kind young boy, who’s just a bit lonely and wants to change that,’ adds Gordon. ‘Anyone who’s read the book will know it’s about being rich, but at its heart it’s a really lovely story about friendship and family and the important things in life.’ (David Pollock)
100 THE LIST 1 Nov 2019–31 Jan 2020
MUSICAL ADAPTATION HOW THE GRINCH STOLE CHRISTMAS! THE MUSICAL Festival Theatre, Edinburgh, Tue 26 Nov–Sun 1 Dec
It’s over 60 years since Dr Seuss wrote that Christmas might mean ‘a little bit more’ than gifts. And while shops in December often suggest otherwise, his book How the Grinch Stole Christmas! still holds a place in our hearts.
Written by Seuss in 1957, the book was adapted for television in 1966, turned into a musical in 1994 and, most famously, became a Hollywood blockbuster starring Jim Carrey in 2000. But while the musical has been a regular feature at theatres in the US for the past 25 Christmases (pictured), it’s only just made it to these shores.
Touring the UK this winter, How the Grinch Stole Christmas! The Musical brings the grumpy green fellow, his doggy sidekick, the community of Whoville and a raft of catchy songs with it. And for one young man, it’s a bit of a dream come true. ‘As a kid, I grew up watching the Jim Carrey film,’ says Matt Terry, winner of
2016’s The X Factor, who is now taking on the role of Young Max the dog. ‘It was a big part of my childhood and my whole family still watches it at Christmas. So to be in the show is just great.’
Although most used to belting out pop numbers, Terry recently cut his theatrical animal teeth playing Alex the Lion in the UK tour of Madagascar the Musical. ‘I think it’s the movement in my body that helps me play an animal,’ he says. ‘But they’re very different – Alex was agile and full of himself, while Max is a naïve puppy who just messes around, so he’s good fun to play.’ (Kelly Apter)