Stinky Flowers and the Bad Banana

Fringe theatre is often about taking risks, so you have to applaud Croft Vaughn for the bravery of his one-man show in which he plays a nine-year-old boy up in his attic with an over-active imagination. But you also have to ask whether he might have misjudged a British audience.

Vaughn's character, John Sinclair, tells a series of original modern fairytales assisted with an overhead projector and minimal props. New Yorker Vaughn is clearly a talented actor who can deliver an engaging performance, and there's very little to fault the writing in Stinky Flowers. However, there may be cultural differences between American confidence and British reserve that are holding this piece back.

There is no fourth wall in Stinky Flowers. This is a conversation - sometimes interactive - between John Sinclair and whoever is sitting in his audience. Vaughn starts by prodding someone near the front at random to establish that they are real. I suddenly appreciated my decision to sit further back; but with only four of us in total, and the house lights left on throughout, I was feeling terribly exposed. It made it difficult to relax into Vaughn's performance, as I was thinking “oh please don't pick on me“. There's a good reason I'm in the audience and not on the stage.

Vaughn is constantly scribbling cartoons and words on an overhead projector. Initially I thought this was getting a little hackneyed, but it became clear at the end how this was to be significant. In fact the pace of the closing couple of minutes were very different from what had come before, proving that everything can have a happy ending.

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The Blurb

A young boy, A grandfather's wisdom, A mother's sadness. Join Sinclair on a multimedia journey as he discovers meaning in imagination. Warring monkeys and enchanted lakes vividly come to life in a dreamer's attic.

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