Mike wonders why the 'big box' has shrunk
Andy and Mike’s Big Box of Bananas at The Haymarket Theatre, Basingstoke, on Friday, October 29
GEORGE and I were disappointed to have missed children’s entertainers Andy Day and Mike James when they performed during Newbury Comedy Festival in July. George was particularly keen to see them as the duo had won him over when they popped into his school to promote the show prior to their Corn Exchange appearance.
Big Box of Bananas was an anarchic tale of the duo’s quest to track down the password to open a mysterious giant box delivered to their day-glo flat. Through a number of dream sequences the audience was introduced to effervescent air stewardesses Tango and Fizz, a Max Headroom-style television star, and the presenters of Ocean’s Got Talent, the wonderfully-named Sunk and Wreck (get it?).
The show was aimed at ages four to 11, but probably appealed slightly more to the younger contingent in the audience, as George (aged eight) and his friend Kai (celebrating his seventh birthday), considered themselves a little too old to join in the various actions, singing and general audience participation with full gusto. However, it was perfectly clear that beneath their cool exterior the boys were thoroughly entertained, particularly by the water pistol-toting pirates who squirted the audience quite liberally during their anarchic appearance.
Day’s main job as a CBeebies presenter makes him quite a celebrity for pre-schoolers, and I suspect there were a couple of CBeebies in-jokes thrown in that went over the heads of the older children and their parents. Day and childhood friend James each played to their strengths of vocal and physical comedy respectively. The show may have been expanded from its original 2009 Edinburgh Fringe hour running time to a generous 90 minutes, but none of the content stood out as padding.
Crammed chock full of silliness, it was rather refreshing to see a children’s production that has no claims to literary credence, highbrow artistic merit or educational messages of morality. Day and James are talented performers who deal successfully in the serious business of fun, and they thoroughly deserved the longest queue for post-show autographs that I have ever witnessed.
- First published in Newbury Weekly News on Thursday, November 4 2010