OLD KING COLE
North Peckham Civic Centre, London SE15
Opened 20 December, 1990

Forget the eponymous monarch: his only plot function is to have sired drippy Princess Daphne, whose betrothal accounts for all the action. The amazing Faz and his feebleminded assistant twoo (sic) attempt to win the princess's hand on behalf of weediest man in the world, Baron Wadd, by nobbling Cyril the sickeningly sporty fiddler. But wouldn't you just know it, somehow all their fiendish devices backfire. Bangs, flashes, exploding washing machines and a great deal of audience participation are the order of the evening.

Ken Campbell has an impish instinct for the kind of Beanoesque antics that entertain and captivate children, and the London Bubble execute his script with a complete absence of condescension, directly onto the young punters' wavelength on this showing, the combination works perhaps too well, and for several passages it's all but impossible to quell the chants and one-liners coming from the hall. The opportunities to let off steam are welcomed, but ultimately the performers are in control only while the kids allow them to be. Oh, maybe I'm just getting too old for this game; it's funny, it's fun, and it'll certainly keep the little treasures from battering each other with the cardboard boxes their presents came in.

Written for City Limits magazine.

Copyright Ian Shuttleworth; all rights reserved.

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