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Monday 15 April 2013

Knick Knack And Doo Dad: Children Were Glued To The Bizarre Events Played Out @ Brighton Dome

If Samuel Beckett, Spike Milligan, Sergei Diaghilev and Franz Kafka all got together to write a children"s show, Knick Knack and Doo Dad is pretty much what they would have come up with (Studio Theatre, Dome Complex, Brighton 13th April 2013).



The set is reminiscent of Beckett's 'Endgame', with the wild humour a reminder of Milligan. 

This, coupled with a complete lack of respect for any convention of children's theatre that Diaghilev would have loved, and a plot that folds in on itself in a labyrinthine web of confusion that Kafka would have been proud of, should not have worked at all.

But in actual fact it did…well sort of…well I think it did.

If you add in to the mix that this was originally a Christmas show, and that some prior reviews were less than kind, and that the most colourful and cuddly things on the stage were some fake black rats it should all have been a disaster. 

But it wasn"t. Well, I don"t think so anyway. 


In addition the theatre was only just half full, and the plot, if it existed at all, was so strung out and unintelligible that I had no idea what was going on, and I have an M.A. in Greek Theatre and 13 years of reviewing under my belt.

Further, the sounds effects, such as telephones accompanying the show, had major technical difficulties. 

See what I mean? This should have been the worst thing I have ever seen. Except, it wasn"t. In fact it was one of the best. Honest.

Someone once said that so called 'classic books' refer to the texts that parents like their kids to read, rather than the books the kids actually like. 

Thus Enid Blyton's work was sniffed at for years while stuff like The Railway Children was hailed as a "classic". 

Be honest, which did you read as a child?

As a reviewer of children's theatre I have tried to learn that lesson and observe the reactions of the kids to the productions, and not just the parents (myself included). 


The children loved this play, they absolutely loved it; they shouldn"t have, not on paper, but they did. 

Not one child, apart from one girl who left crying, did anything except sit glued to the bizarre events on stage. 

Patrick Lynch and Carlo Rossi, the two stars of the show, pretended to be each others reflections in a mirror and played slow motion football with a black sack of rubbish. 

One pretended to be dead and then kicked the other ones bottom while he consoled a life size dummy that seemed to represent his mate"s alter ego. 

Magic fires were lit in umbrellas, yes, umbrellas, while low-tech snow appeared in the form of cotton wool sheets. 

One man squashed the other by rolling out a section of astro-turf filled with rats across his prone body. 

Another had glasses that squirted out pretend tears that they then caught in a bucket complete with a metal funnel. Do I need to go on?

The adults looked on bemused by this festival of post apocalyptic modernist plot-less theatrical barmpot nonsense, while the children giggled, stared in bewilderment, looked on in shock, sat back in confusion, smiled in wonder and stared in awe.

You see they loved it. 

My children, both boys aged 7 and 5, loved it. 

Joe was so drawn by the production that he barely found time to eat his Maltesers, Tom was getting them out of his bag without letting his eyes drop.

"What did you think of it then?" I asked them afterwards.

"WE LOVED IT!" They said leaping up and down wildly. They then proceeded to spend the next two hours going hyper and copying the "pretend guy on the other side of the empty frame is your reflection" trick all the way home all the way around Sainsbury's. 

Sorry fellow shoppers!


by: Howard Young (Arts Editor)




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