Mr Benn: The Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Man
  • By Tom King
  • |
  • 18th Aug 2011
  • |
  • ★★★★★

The things we love as children stay with us forever. It’s the reason kids’ theatre is so important – one good performance at the right age and it’s a passion for life. And as we get older, we naturally want to pass on these things to our children so they can enjoy them too.Mr Benn is a perfect example of this. He’s a cult classic, and the thing that struck me during this show was that it’s hard to know who’s more excited to see him brought to life: parents or kids. And that’s awesome. Though the children it’s aimed at are probably too young to know the character well, Tall Stories have brought all of their considerable expertise to bear to make this an unforgettable introduction.If you think about it, Mr Benn is actually an ideal framework for a Fringe kids’ show. A door which can take you to literally any world or situation? The possibilities are endless. But where Tall Stories have really succeeded is in making even Mr Benn’s everyday humdrum life seem magical. Doors swivel and pivot. Props appear out of nowhere. The same four flats become a shop, a street, a busy commuter train. These things make up Mr Benn’s daily routine until he receives an invitation to a fancy dress party.This is where the action gets more fantastic. As soon as the shopkeeper appears (a moment which made a lot of the grown-ups smile) Mr Benn is thrust into a string of adventures. The two larger adventures which make up the bulk of the show are as a cook and a frogman, not the most obvious of choices but the stories that go with them are delightful. While not wanting to spoil the plot, a couple of my favourite moments were in the Cook section: bakers hats becoming puppets with a couple of simple folds and a kitchen symphony played on pots and pans. Frogman, while shorter, is equally fun – you’re sure to leave Pleasance whistling the song ‘Man Frog’. Mr Benn is a charming tale of the adventures that await all of us if we just look for them. I loved it. But really the last word has to go to David, the little boy sat next to me. ‘Mum, can we go again tomorrow?’ My thoughts exactly, David.

Reviews by Tom King

Summerhall

A Fortunate Man

★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

The Cat's Mother

★★★
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4

Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack

★★★★
Traverse Theatre

Nigel Slater’s Toast

★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Famous Puppet Death Scenes

★★★★
Assembly George Square Gardens

Jess Robinson: No Filter

★★★★

The Blurb

Creators of the smash hits The Gruffalo and Room on the Broom present a brand new production. The genial Mr Benn springs to life on stage in this magical, musical show.