Writer: Finnegan Kruckmeyer, with original songs by Darren Clark
Director: Katie Boon
Reviewer: Robert Cottingham
Seven year old Zachary Bridling is normal. His hair his normal. His face is normal. Everything about him is distinctly average, even his surname rhymes with middling. Fed up with being normal like everyone else, he decides to go on an adventure to places where there are giants and hairy creatures; – places where he will be strange by virtue of his very averageness.
This is a play from children’s theatre company Paper Balloon that is touring venues in London and the South East. It’s a colourful affair and very much at a child’s level. Having said that there is enough to keep adults happy. The original songs are funny, particularly one which finds more rhymes for Zachary than should be strictly possible, such as ‘daiquiri’ and ‘whackery’.
The play’s backdrop is a moving screen which the lead actor turned to reveal children’s drawings of the different places Zachary went to, such as a river, the zoo, and ‘grumptown’. As the grumpiest boy in the world, Zachary finds that it is the one thing he is not so normal in. He challenges one of the residents to a ‘grump off’. (Is there anyone grumpier than a seven-year old boy?) With the help of a lion and a girl with hair down to the floor he manages to turn the trees sideways and scare away an army of mice.
That the play succeeds so well is down to the fact that it reminds children that they can be special in their own unique ways however insignificant they may feel they are. It has the fantastical aspects of all good children’s stories from Alice In Wonderland and Where The Wild Things Are. It had its audience (young and old) entranced by its lively blend of songs, puppetry and live performance.