heatre Paradok are renowned for their quirky, innovative theatre and they’re always risk takers. Like the Jumblies, they often set to sail in a sieve with the risk of drowning. This is one of the times were their sieve stays firmly afloat, supported by a sea of nonsense and the hat of the Quangle Wangle. Based on Edward Lear’s nonsense poems, Fiona McDonald’s adaptation of ‘The Jumblies’ spins a narrative out of the nonsense, creating a whimsical and fun children’s show.
This is a colourful show and the costumes will captured children’s attention from the start. The Jumblies, with their bright green wigs and patch-work clothes, wouldn’t look out of place on CBeebies. This is no bad thing; they’re the kind of characters children will absolutely love. The cast performed their parts as the silly Jumblie family with energy and humour. As we joined the Jumblies on their journey to the Chankly Bore, we met many of Lear’s equally unconventional characters, including the Owl and the Pussycat and the Dong with the Luminous Nose. The Owl and the Pussycat’s costumes were genius and the pair bring a touch of eccentric humour to the stage.
The decision to turn Lear’s poetry into songs is a wise one, resulting in making them sound even more wonderfully whimsical. Unfortunately, the music was often a tad loud, overpowering the voices of the cast and drowning out the singing.
It’s in its unexpected, silliest moments that this show draws the most laughs. The parts in which the characters make up their own rhymes are delightful, embracing the wordplay at the centre of Lear’s poems. When this show fully embraced that silliness and merriment, that’s when it worked best. There are times towards the end when it feels a bit twee, but this is still faithful to Lear himself who was certainly prone to being sentimental.
All in all, it’s great fun with a colourful cast and some moments of originality that are Paradok’s trademark. This year will be the 200th year of Lear’s birthday and this is a wonderful testament to him. A brillig and joyous kids show.