Bobalong

Thu 13th – Fri 28th August 2015

reviews

Jenny Burton

at 10:16 on 21st Aug 2015

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Brought to the Fringe by two member of Cambridge Footlights, Tom Fraser and Joshan Chana, Bobalong is a fast-paced exciting journey for children up the rickety road, across the gravelly bridge, through the woods filled with bubbles, owls and everything in between. Attending the Bobalong show even grants the audience immediate entry into the Bobalong Club.

Set in the Bobalong Treehouse, Dog (Fraser) and Dingo (Chana) take us through a host of tales from the Spirit Book in order to persuade the Spirit Owl to come and say hello. From lonely men standing on poles, to giants growing up, to lost navigators at sea, the charming interludes carry the story to its delightful conclusion.

The use of audience participation is vital to Bobalong. Whether the performers are persuading us to whisper our own names aloud, throw our spare clothes at them or add sound effects to their stories, the audience felt thoroughly engaged and was truly taken along on the journey. Fraser was particularly successful at engaging with his audience; he adapted well to the various vocal reactions throughout, whether they were thrown at him by children or adults.

A highlight of the performance was the combined use of set, props and costumes. An intriguing host of items including an ironing board covered in bright knick-knacks and a hat stand adorned with colourful outfits created the vibrant atmosphere needed to continually entertain young children for the duration of the show. However, there was a fair amount of fumbling when it came to costume changes, which the two performers were mostly able to turn into a joke. Yet as they themselves suggested, a little more rehearsal was needed to make the show a little slicker.

Despite the triumph of the aesthetics, unfortunately Bobalong struggled to maintain the same level in its performance. Although the show is aimed at 2+, the actors steamed through their lines without time to stop and breathe which felt as though it might be difficult for young children to understand. Their energy was flawless, particularly Chana’s wide-eyed storytelling, but Bobalong would have benefitted from telling fewer stories at a calmer pace.

All in all, Bobalong is a fun show for children and adults alike, but its biggest accomplishment; that of its fun and exciting set, is presented before the show even begins.

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Hannah Matthews

at 11:26 on 21st Aug 2015

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Dog (Thomas Fraser) and Dingo (Joshan Chana) invite you to join the Bobalong Club. Presenting a series of imaginative and surreal stories, Bobalong is an entertaining and amusing play, just not necessarily for its intended audience. While the duo may have been catering to the predominantly adult audience, the show's complicated and fast-paced stories may have been disorientating for younger viewers.

The play did, however, universally appeal to the senses. Audience members were encouraged to moo like a cow, catch bubbles and touch items of costume. The set itself was a visual delight, composing of washing lines & ironing boards colourfully cluttered with spoons, pans, socks and ducks. This design proved to be incredibly endearing.

The duo were entertaining and energetic. They are both talented performers, engaging from the start. They are unafraid of losing their adult inhibitions and seem perfectly content pulling funny faces and dressing up. However, their complex language and pacey delivery was not well suited to the younger members of the audience.

The show's weakness lay in its vague attempt to satisfy both adults and children. The stories were not as simple as they needed to be and used words like ‘relentless’, words that I suspect unbeknown to those under the age of twelve. Yet to remove such language would certainly have detracted from the lyrical feel of the piece.

However, the duo often spoke too fast for even me to comprehend some of the lines. While they may have been trying to generate excitement among its younger members, they spoke so fast that we missed what we were supposed to be excited about. If Bobalong aspires to be a great children’s show the whole play needs simplifying; reduce the number of stories, slow the pace and use a simpler vocabulary.

If you’re looking for a laugh alongside younger theatregoers, then this is certainly an option. You can chuckle at some of the more adult orientated jokes while your younger accompanies are engaged with imitating cows. However, if you’re expecting a good story, you might be better elsewhere.

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Comments

Lanikai Krishnadasan Torrens; 23rd Aug 2015; 12:36:29

Definitely recommend this for children of all ages, the four one-year-olds in the front row were completely entranced by the visuals. 'Bobalong' is a funny, beautiful show that absolutely respects its audience, both adults and children alike - the atmosphere was one of utter enchantment. The stories are original and charming; 'lyrical' is the right word, but definitely disagree with the two star review - this is a fantastically creative four star show that won't dumb it down for kids.

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