The beauty of reviewing for Everything Theatre is that you are exposed to performances that you’d be really unlikely to come across otherwise. They’re often in faraway parts of the capital and within smaller theatres that you might not have known existed before. And just sometimes you come across a show that is a real gem. This is one of those shows – a total masterclass in creating engaging, fun theatre for younger audiences.
The odds were against us enjoying this one as a) it was on at 10am on a Saturday, b) it was in a place that was not well-connected to our home in Southeast London, and c) our connecting train was cancelled so we were a few minutes late for the show and all arrived feeling rattled and panicky.
However, almost as soon as bottoms hit the seats the introductory song began, detailing Jonny Feathers’ diet of bogeys and pizza sick off the street, and our son was sold: this was most definitely the play for him. And so we all relaxed!
Jonny Feathers combines songs, action and puppetry to tell the story of Jonny’s journey to find his missing guitar before his show that evening. The action follows him as he retraces his steps interacting with a pair of raving ravens, a sly fox, a homebody snail and a toad, who all help him navigate his way across Camden – from the canal to the market – in search of his guitar.
The cast Ynaqui Tuason-Inocian (Jonny Feathers), Sophie Earl (Vicky the Vixen and other friends) and Lucy Yates (Basher the Badger and other friends) not only enact all of the parts but play all of the songs live on drums, guitar and bass AND do all of the puppeteering too. So, a really talented trio.
No fancy props are necessary to make this play great. Many are reused items such as an old bin as a shark or plastic milk cartons filled with fairy lights as fishes, but the puppeteering is so skilful our three-year-old had no problem identifying what everything was meant to be.
Writer Martin Murphy states that he wanted to create something his younger siblings would love, with more edge than the safer work often aimed at children. And he certainly succeeded. Our son was delighted that it was a little bit cheeky, and there were a few giggles thrown in for the parents too.
The play is brilliantly designed to keep small children entertained. It’s the perfect length (55 mins), with lots of songs, pretty lights, puppets, bits where they could join in, some cheeky jokes. What more could a small boy (or girl) ask for?
We were all trying to think afterwards what could have been done to make it a better performance, but we couldn’t think of anything. And our son has talked about it all weekend – so it’s got to be 5 stars from us!
Written, composed and lyrics by: Martin Murphy
Directed by: Matt Borgatti
Produced by: Rock Pigeon Productions in association with Park Theatre
Jonny Feathers the Rock and Roll Pigeon plays at Park Theatre until 13 August. Further information and bookings can be found here.