Christmas as a child is very different from an adult – the moment school breaks up induces an adrenaline rush of anticipation that doesn’t abate until Boxing Day, and it’s an exercise in patience to be calm enough to sleep as Santa gets ever nearer. Boing! taps into that, the rush of exhilaration before Father Christmas arrives, which is relevant to children from every generation – it’s been running for ten years.
Boing!‘s success is its simple energy. Kel and Wilkie are two acrobatic bothers who simply can’t sleep, even though Santa won’t come until they do, and fire off on all cylinders until they’re exhausted enough to settle. In the 50-minutes it takes (“who gave the kids coffee?!”), they engage in practical jokes, pillow duels, a dramatic teddy hostage situation, a sublime duvet voyage and a space trip into the dancing starlight.
This is all conveyed with no more than a dozen words or so in the vocabulary. Facial expressions, physical comedy combined with spectacular choreography and an innate sense of a kid’s thought process come together to sling the audience into excitement; little Dexter sat next to me couldn’t get enough of Sheet Man vs Dr Evil-man. The charming soundtrack dances with the brothers as they shift focus from one place to the next, goes calm as they begin to relax and then livens as they suddenly remember there’s more fun to be had.
Parents and teachers as well will enjoy the level of engagement with the kids – they laughed, they cheered, they caught the thrown teddies, and they saw themselves in Wilkie and Kel’s antics. Taking kids to the theatre is always a winner, especially when it keeps them interested using communication magic and without resorting to fart jokes. The kaleidoscopic breakdance sequence is a highlight, though it may be a little over-stimulating for children with additional needs. Overall though, it’s a great way to take the young kids to see a show that understands them, while at the same time inspiring them to up their “The Floor is Lava” game.
Boing! runs at The Bristol Old Vic until the 5th of January, time enough for trampolines to be added to Christmas lists.
for tickets and more information.