Amiable hosts Dingo (Joshan Chana) and Dog (Thomas Fraser) present surreal sketches and storytelling in this enjoyable and inventive show that will sometimes be lost on younger audience members.
Their sketches have a whimsy and sometimes a surreal beauty that adult audiences might recognise from The Mighty Boosh and children perhaps from Adventure Time.
Chana and Fraser’s energy and enthusiasm make them charming hosts. They are unafraid to be completely silly on stage, whether gliding through the ritualistic dance moves of their deity, The Story Owl, or having water sprayed over them as they blow bubbles dressed as a hermit.
Their sketches have a whimsy and sometimes a surreal beauty that adult audiences might recognise from The Mighty Boosh and children perhaps from Adventure Time. In one sketch, Chana plays a giant whose increasing size is shown by the smaller and smaller glasses of water in his hand. In another, the moon itself is lonely and comes to Earth to dance. These are both clever, inventive conceits but only the first gets a noticeable reaction from the children in the audience: a visual gag about size and shape is much more suitable for younger children than a densely written narrative that mentions the lure of cafes and bars.
Chana and Fraser’s writing often struggles to find a suitable register for infants. The show’s vocabulary, such as ‘awakens’ or ‘cleansed’, would need glossing for teenagers, let alone the under eights. Sometimes very difficult words come in the space of just two clauses: one character ‘abides in these woods, a steward of the forest’, for example. Such language has been chosen to provide a magical, arcane quality to the storytelling; but the cost is that children may not understand the meaning. Even some of the more complex actions we are asked to repeat are replicable only by the audience’s grown-ups.
Chana and Fraser are able sketch-writers – both are current members of the Cambridge Footlights – and there is at least something here for all ages to enjoy. Their target audience, though, is difficult to decipher: too tricky for primary, too childish for secondary. Bobalong might well be best enjoyed not by clever children, but silly adults.