And Now For Something Completely Different … And Contagious

PICTURES: Philip Kuhn

Boy Taryn Bennet and Ninja James Cairns
Boy Taryn Bennett and Ninja James Cairns.

 

DIANE DE BEER

 

THE BOY WHO CRIED NINJA by Alex Latimer

ADAPTED AND DIRECTED BY Jenine Collocott

CAST: Taryn Bennett, James Cairns and Toni Morkel

DESIGNED: Alistair Findlay

ORIGINAL SCORE: Sue Grealy

PUPPETS: Andy Jones

 AGE APPROPRIATE: 4 to 10 years

 UNTIL: December 15 @2pm, Tuesday and Wednesday @2pm; Thursday and Friday @11am; and Saturday @11am and 2pm

 VENUE: Sandton’s Auto and General Theatre on the Square

 

As someone who doesn’t experience children’s theatre often, it was as much fun to witness the young audience as it was to go with the flow of what this adventure (children’s theatre and performance) was all about.

But once again, it reaffirmed the power of live theatre and how storytelling has many purposes but perhaps most importantly, to activate creative minds and challenge those, especially the young, who are so willing to participate – with great enthusiasm.

Writing about it from an adult point of view is senseless because we are not the audience and those little voices are very quick to let you know exactly where they’re at and what the story means to them – and that’s where the fun lies for the adults.

Boy director Jenine Collocott, Taryn Bennett, Toni Morkel and James Cairns
The team: director Jenine Collocott with actors Taryn Bennett, Toni Morkel and James Cairns.

Collocott whose adult theatre often has that magical almost childlike quality (think The Snow Goose) has surrounded herself with like-minded actors (part of Contagious Theatre) who are happy at play whoever their audience and happily adopt an over-the-top story with a lesson gently sliding through while embracing the kids in all kinds of ways with hoopla and hilarity.

It’s not always easy to achieve and as one mother pointed out, it is the originality which also enhances the experience with too many predictable stories repeated year after year from more established companies.

That’s also understandable in a cash strapped profession with audiences always changing (as they grow out of children’s theatre), but they are there for a few years and this is a great stage to create and establish audiences for the future and really grab their attention while exploiting the pay-off of live performance.

Collocott has also chosen a great hook, a story that many children will know, and it is further charged with a Ninja as inspiration and a twist on the tale of a boy who cries wolf. This time there might be some truth in the saying that fact is often stranger than fiction.

Boy Taryn Bennett with one of the puppets
Boy Taryn Bennett with one of the puppets.

She has further loaded the dice with a cast who we know can easily lead adults up the garden path – and that’s yet another bonus for adults, while children will be introduced to performance by real genius with Cairns, Morkel and Bennett all taking turns to go on the charm offensive and win young hearts or just give you a slightly silly scare.

It was lovely to listen and learn and to wallow in all that exuberance and enthusiasm as the young boy worked hard to engage and entertain his willing yet demanding participants. They were well rewarded with a production which was cleverly produced probably on a budget but with imaginative visual flair adding all the bells and whistles.

Holidays and children are all about juggling time purposely with enough escapism and entertainment to keep everyone happy. This one is a no-brainer. It’s not run of the mill and easily accessible with parking close by or perhaps even better, Gautrain in walking distance which further enhances the adventure.

Booking at Computicket where you can also confirm times.