Tucked away in The Box in George Square, this very funny show that reminds you that some of the best children's theatre can happen with very little - a small space, one actor and an absolute determination to make children laugh.
Based on the book by Stephan Pastis, the show follows Timmy Failure and his polar bear Total as their detective agency (Total Failure Inc) tries to solve the mysterious disappearance of his mother's segway, which has vanished from where he left it outside the house of his "idiot best friend" Rollo. This is a story about a boy who gets just about everything wrong and has to put up with useless friends, a teacher who calls him Captain Thickhead, his mother's unwllingness to lend him her segway, her terrible boyfriend the Bowling Turkey and, worst off all, his evil nemesis Corinna Corinna. But he refuses to be put down. Hiding somewhere in this story there may possibly be a serious message about the value of just getting on with things, no matter what is thrown at you (the agency's motto is "Failure is an option"), but it's mainly just an excuse for a lot of silliness.
The show tackled its daft plot with absolute enthusiasm and no shame, pulling off everything with conviction, whether it's a boy cuddling his 1,500lb polar bear or a spectacular car crash. Audience members were engaged skillfully from the start. A child who's often shy was hooting with laughter as she helped get Timmy out of his sumo suit and there was an excellent example of how to bring children up on stage - funny, essential to the story and with an innovative solution to possible stage nerves which it would be a shame to give a way in advance. Pictures from the book are used well as an important part of the storytelling and the set, costume and props were colourful and fun, but deliberately basic, providing many jokes.
Most importantly, at the heart of this production was one engaging performer who gave it absolutely everything for the whole hour, swapping between characters with great comic timing, without completely ignoring the element of tragedy in Timmy's situation. His interaction with the children in the audience and on the stage was great, teasing but warm, picking up quickly on individual reactions and unphased even when told forcefully by one "I'm not going up there!".
A fan of the book was not disappointed: "It should have been 2 hours, so they could do it all!" said Holly (8), while a newcomer to the story, Gwen (7), added "you didn't need to have read the book to enjoy it." The full-on recreation of Timmy's many disasters often had them both belly-laughing. Highly recommended for an hour of entertainment aimed squarely at children aged 6 up. "Amazingastic," was Holly's final verdict.
Suitable for ages 6 to 10 years
Reviewed by Lucy Blackburn 9 August
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