Martha McBrier manages to get a lot of mileage from a story which highlights the importance of road safety. With her traffic light coloured nails and soothing demeanour, she is an appropriate narrator for this rhyming tale and its surprising number of twists and turns.
The show begins with her passing around traffic light lollipops, which acted as a jumping off point to ask the children about crossing the road as well as being a good distraction. Rather than beginning with a fidgeting audience, she had the whole crowd, mums and dads included, sucking away contentedly on the sweets. This helped to set up the informal atmosphere of the show and McBrier was eager to emphasise that the children should make themselves at home, helped by the friendly questions that she asked them.
Some of the children in the audience were a little tentative about getting involved in the interactive element and McBrier has been wise not to structure her entire show around getting them involved. One admirable technique is to pause the story every so often to recap the events and ask the children what they think, meaning that even if they have missed a bit they can still remain involved in the show. She was good at dealing with children, even if some of her supposedly off-the-cuff remarks felt a little prepared; in our show a child who had volunteered to temporarily take on the role of the Scariesome Lollipop Lady had second thoughts and began to cry on stage. Where others might have panicked, McBrier averted the crisis, calming the child down (partly with another of those lollipops).
Any issues with the play are with the story itself, rather than its delivery. The rhyming structure of the story means that it can feel rather long-winded at times, and, despite lasting almost an hour, we never really get to know any of the main characters apart from the lollipop lady. Furthermore, there is an issue in any road safety cautionary tale in that it must warn children without terrifying them. As a result, I felt that the way that certain characters described some accidents verged on the blasé. Ultimately though, it is a fairly enjoyable storytelling experience with a worthwhile message.