The Big Bite-Size Play Factory’s Family Creatures may seem an impenetrable sort of name but early into watching this show it became apparent that this was a sketch show intended for children. As a result, the sketches all involved children-friendly subjects, such as turkeys that want to play the saxophone, the farmer from Peter Rabbit and non scary ghosts. There are some good sketch ideas here – in particular a playlet which explains why the unicorn did not make it onto the arc – but the execution of them very rarely worked.
This is perhaps because – despite the suitable subject matter – it has not been really tailored to a child’s (or an adult’s) sense of humour but some weird hybrid of the two. Far and away the most popular sketch was a speech from Mr McGregor who seems to have become absolutely rabbit obsessed after his encounters with Peter. The children got plenty of opportunities to yell ‘it’s behind you’ and it worked on an adult level too, although the most amusing part must have been the suggestions from the audience. It turns out that in a kids’ show you don’t get rudely heckled but instead bombarded with useful – and therefore difficult to deal with – advice. “Why don’t you get a cat?” one of the audience asked McGregor. Giving all credit to the actor, he managed to return to the sketch without just dismissing the children who had at last become interested.
However, other parts of the show continually failed to spark the audience’s enthusiasm. There was a particularly unfunny recurring sketch about a tortoise who wants to be a celebrity. She came on throughout the show to moan in what one presumes must have been some parody of a fame-obsessed teenager. Never, though, not even through the lamest of puns, was the fact that she was a tortoise alluded too, making this concept seem rather pointless.
White Room Theatre needs to work out who their audience is and how to appeal to them in order to get any of the laughs that were conspicuous by their absence in this show. Given the quality of the acting and the originality of some of their ideas, that shouldn’t be too hard but until they do they are likely to be faced with more silent audiences.