Callum and Diana work in Educational Children’s theatre. They are the all-singing all-dancing messengers of healthy eating and healthy habits. Joe, their technician helps them out and as does the puppet side kick Ed.
Grinning Idiots sell this story as one that centres on Callum, whose big life plan did not involve performing for children. Unfortunately, here he is: 21 years old and a puppet is rubbing in all his shortcomings. There is a whiff of Avenue Q, with the puppet, the theme and a spoof on children’s entertainment but that is ok.
There are high marks for execution, the politically correct songs with the un-PC lines and the clichéd dance moves are just terrific. The themes and games are well thought out and again greatly performed: TIE (Theatre in Education for the uninitiated) and the dread of the phenomenon by acting graduates has been well-observed. The props are neatly made though the main prop Ed could have done with an extra working arm for extra subtlety and perhaps a little more accuracy in the voice performance.
Is it mean to deny a group an extra star because you believe they can do even better? I saw great potential but I wanted Grinning Idiots to push it further, go bigger, go messier. It was very satisfying when the latter did happen. A little more actual story was needed: the catalyst is hinted upon late in the show and then it is through a slightly contrived scene that this is fully explained. There was space for more of Callum and Ed’s relationship (was it like the film Ted?). Where did Callum/Diana/Joe’s life go wrong? What was their big life plan? Tell us!
For me this show didn’t centre on Callum: it is very much an ensemble piece and Callum, Diana and ironically straight man Joe, are enthusiastic in their craft.I was rooting for them and I was very much intrigued but I wanted more: I wanted love-songs about Peter Andre, I wanted halfway crises, more screaming breakdowns. The script didn’t allow much breaking out of the one-dimensional TIE characters and but it was “in real life”, that the interesting stuff happened.
It is very clear though that Grinning Idiots Theatre is an incredibly talented bunch with loads of creative ideas and I am looking forward to their future work.