The Showstoppers' Kids Show

Seeing The Showstoppers’ Kids Show is like watching a new improvised episode of Horrible Histories. So yes, on this day at least, there are plenty of poo jokes which are met with due glee. But for every ingenious reference to bowel-movements, there was also an intelligent witticism, charming character, or snappy melody which even the most aloof parent could be made to chuckle with.

Make sure you see this show. And then go again. Oh, and Never Flush Your Friends Down the Toilet.

The performers are all singing brightly and dressed brightly (in mismatched dungarees) from the start. Even these warm-up songs involve the audience members, commenting on seating choices, on clothing, on a boy’s particularly stylish hat. Then the story begins. The Showstoppers’ name is renowned for the troupe’s improvised musical format, which promises an original show made from audience suggestions for setting, style, and title. The Kids Show is much the same, but differs from the ‘adult’ show in that the performers ask for prompts far more regularly, and keep their scenes and songs decidedly more brief. ‘What happened next?’ is a question which children are particularly well-equipped to answer, and these Showstoppers listen to every young person’s response with sincerity and encouragement. Combined with the performers’ charisma and skill for adapting ideas into funny games, the family audience remains engaged throughout.

For us, a fish called Nemo lived in a toilet bowl, turned into a great white shark, then turned into a great red shark (of course). After flushing his friends away in a moment of malevolence, he learns to regret his decision. Hearing fifty young voices shout variations on ‘Nemo wants to say sorry’ restored my faith in humanity (and led to a cracking power ballad about forgiveness too). The cast work together as one mind. They use cardboard boxes for props and set, occasionally giving them characteristics with a dexterous marker pen: four boxes were piled to become a regal toilet seat, one side torn off and folded to become a shark’s fin, one box worn as a costume when Nemo got lost inside an apple (obviously). Indeed, in the remaining minutes after the story finished, children were invited to draw the story on remaining cardboard on the stage, and it is a testament to the quality of the production that all the under-14s around me immediately clambered from their seats at the offer.

A word of warning, though. If you’re an adult watching, don’t shout out suggestions. You will never be as good at this as the children. Their ideas are spontaneous, inventive, and genuine in a way yours cannot be, I'm afraid. This show is for them – just be glad to share in its joy.

Make sure you see this show. And then go again. Oh, and Never Flush Your Friends Down the Toilet

Reviews by Lily Lindon

Assembly George Square Theatre

David O'Doherty: Big Time

★★★★
Roundabout @ Summerhall

Scorch

★★★★
Underbelly, George Square

Fleabag

★★★★
Pleasance Courtyard

Kiri Pritchard-McLean: Appropriate Adult

★★★★
Underbelly Med Quad

Joan

★★★

Since you’re here…

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Performances

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The Blurb

Fringe favourites and Olivier Award-winning improvisers, The Showstoppers, take your kids’ ideas and transform them on the spot into interactive musical adventures. Harry Potter in space, done! Dora and the Gruffalo meet dinosaurs under the sea, no worries! Kids (and only kids!) decide who we meet and where we go to create a show tailor-made to their imaginations. 'Terrific... an absolute delight' ***** (One4Review.co.uk). 'Mad, magical and marvellous... Sold out – and for good reason' **** (ArtsAwardVoice.com). 'Funny, silly, uplifting and ridiculous, it's a great kids' show' **** (List). '10 stars!' (Rosie, 9).

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