Poopiedoopiedoop began on a highly optimistic note. On entry to the Wee Room, Wilford Crabble and Christine Dixon, our performance duo, greeted us with stickers, bubbles and bags of enthusiasm. The children were already excited, and the adults couldn’t really help a giggle either. We were off to a scrumptiously silly start.
The show begins - and ends - and fills its middle with - fart humour. King Poopalot is the smelly ruler of the land, and his piggy companion is Mr Ploppy. When Mr Ploppy gets kidnapped by the evil Ginger Ninja, we are led on an adventure across sea and jungle to win him back.
The show has all the components of a great children’s story. A courageous crew are selected from among the audience to help the adventuring Pirate Captain across the seven seas; more little explorers are brought up to hike and hack their way through the Monkey Jungle Kingdom; the friendly Skinny Ninja trains some youngsters in martial arts, and finally, as the evil Ginger Ninja's trousers fall down, everyone gets to pelt him with coloured plastic balls. Young children cannot fail to be stimulated, and most of them were exuberant (though two, in all the excitement, were reduced to tears). But I'm afraid to say the same could not be said for the adults. This is not an intrepid adventure tale. Crabble and Dixon describe what they do as 'hilariously silly', and 'fun for kids and parents alike'. Silly it is. But it isn't captivating, or particularly hilarious, and it does not make an effort to stay in character or suspend the disbelief of any but the youngest of children. Watching King Poopalot stride around on stage, the main thing that came to mind was my dad in a makeshift cape pretending to be a magician at my sixth birthday party. These two felt much more like children's party entertainers than theatre performers.
Poopiedoopiedoop takes every separate element of a good children's show and mashes them all together, but doesn’t provide much of a narrative: the purpose seems to be to assault children's senses with all the stimulating stuff possible until they're forced to have fun. Some of it is even a bit lazy; the random national stereotyping, for one, and the voiceover telling the story without much expression. The accents seem pointless: why is the castle guard African American? Why do the pirates sound Irish? What's up with Skinny Ninja's bad Japanese accent and missing definite articles?
Having said that, it does work for the kids. Most of them are absolutely enthralled: they fall to heckling the performers, and even suggesting alternative endings to the story. "He's locked in the dungeon!" one child keeps insisting, "You need a spade!" Dixon quickly buys a spade. "This is not a choose-your-own tale, but okay. Hello Mr Shopkeeper, may I have a spade?". The performers make every effort to involve their young audience in any way possible. Their enthusiasm and energy cannot be faulted: it's just a pity that they didn't try to engage with their own narrative as much they did with small children.
Poopiedoopiedoop did, in part, live up to its blurb: it is 'hilariously silly', but only for four year olds. It just seems a bit of a shame that it has such limited appeal. If you'd like to take your small children there, they will probably have a fun time (if they aren't crying). But you will be bored to death. Unless you really, really love fart jokes.