Joyously out there kids’ show about a group of bickering hair follicles from stage comedy legends Spymonkey
With ‘Hairy’, veteran theatre comedy troupe Spymonkey sets its sights on kids’ theatre for the first time – and the results are absolute chaos, a world away from the cosy predictability and well-worn jocularity that mark out most summer children’s shows.
The setup in Toby Park and Aitor Basauri’s company-devised production for kids aged five to 12 revolves around three brightly coloured hair follicles (Hairmione, Hairriet and Al), who are attempting to guide a newbie follicle (Hairnry) through the process of getting assigned to the scalp – a privilege apparently only reserved for about 150,000 of our five million hairs.
I’m guessing that is a true fact, but at the same time saying ‘Hairy’ is an educational show about hair is a bit like saying ‘The Meg’ is an educational film about sharks.
Having chosen a theme, Spymonkey has constructed a totally out-there hour of performance around it, one that frequently feels more like Monty Python turning their hands to children’s party entertainment than conventional storytelling. There’s a gloriously weird sketch show quality to it that encompasses everything from a very long, very strange parade of hairstyles to a terrifying interpretive dandruff dance, to a really, really odd bit on head lice.
But the show is defined by its hysterically off-the-cuff interactions with the audience, who the performers steadfastly refuse to acknowledge to be any younger than them. In particular, John-Luke Roberts is the show’s messy heart and soul as the exasperated jobsworth Al, who happily bickers and quibbles with five-year-olds, often threatening to derail the show totally as audience discipline breaks down and his fellow actors start to corpse madly.
About as improving as a bag of sweets, but it’s a gloriously anarchic break from the long trudge of the summer hols, and as much a treat for weary parents as twitchy kids.
Written by Andrzej Lukowski
Wednesday 26 July 2023