There’s no denying that children enjoy silly sounds. This must have been Scottish author Stuart Reid’s guiding principle when putting together this show to promote his two books starring Gorgeous George; the performance overflows with alliterative phrases and odd noises in an attempt to capture a sense of this fictional world.
Reid throws himself about on stage, physically acting out the stories in order to get the audience to visualise George’s adventures in their own minds. The extracts from his books are witty and original, demonstrating a fantastic capacity for invention, from mysterious cupboards overflowing with false teeth to zombies hungry for bogies rather than brains. These extracts were tantalising enough for a sizeable portion of the audience to buy the books after the show.
Evidently used to performing in schools, Reid welcomes interactions from the audience and has many clever ways of getting people involved, including allowing those in the front row to throw sweets at him. And, perhaps most importantly, he doesn’t allow any heckling about his fake dog poo to faze him.
Yet some of the younger children in the audience appeared unaffected by his awesome alliterative abilities and fantastic flights of fancy. While they enjoyed the talk about yucky stuff and the silly noises, their attention often wandered without a clear story to engage them. The limited number of extracts we are allowed prevents the show from having a plot; instead we get constant digressions talking about the author’s life and promoting certain school friendly values, such as the importance of reading and of recycling. Some of these digressions work well, with the ecofriendliness being redeemed by a gag about electricity powered by farts, but others feel targeted towards a very different context. Part of the problem is that Reid is giving the same talk that he gives in schools around the country. While this show would be more than amusing as an alternative to mental maths, it may need to adapt to compete with the varying delights of the Fringe. Yet this should not prove too hard for a man who writes books about Unidentified Unsinkable Underpants.