The Quite Remarkable Adventures of the Owl and the Pussy Cat, Belgrade B2, until March 4
Halfway into this production Owl finds himself paddling the pea-green boat, against the current, on a river of jam.
After an overlong and confusing first act, I was sinking in it.
A "play with music" based on an Eric Idle story, which in turn was based on a famous poem, always had over-egging-the-pudding potential.
And to my taste this was a fruitcake colliding with an Eton Mess. Lots of individual good things but too many clashing ingredients.
Ironically, it starts with a long-winded justification for hi-jacking Edward Lear's nonsense poem, The Owl and the Pussycat, with the promise of a story. Compared to this, Lear's poem is a model of clarity.
Forget the Owl and Pussycat sailing off to marry and dance by the light of the moon. Their task is to save civilisation from a comet controlled by the Firelord, seventh son of Lucifer. The bong tree, source of all things good and creative on earth, is the target. Solve the Riddle of the Dinosaurs, and our heroes will have thwarted him.
So at its heart a Good v. Evil tale, made up with a layer of panto, a splash of surrealism, some song and dance thrown in, and a seasoning of social comment.
Difficult enough to make that seem a cohesive whole, but made even harder by trying to pitch to both adults and children
Hence one minute The Turkey tells us that she performs weddings and barmizvahs but will only do baptisms if she can use a Helvetica font; the next Pig makes a sly reference to Uranus and passing wind.
I'd just about figured out the plot by the interval and I could hear a few of mums and dads trying to explain it to their children.
The kids had been warmed up expertly by the young and talented cast with some panto-style audience participation.
After that, I suspect, most of them were kept entertained by the brilliantly-designed set and the knock-about skits towards the end
Sadly, we had to wait until the chorus line finale to hear again just how good the young cast could belt out a showtime song.
At two hours, including the intermission, this is a musical play that could not only afford to lose a half hour, but would benefit enormously. I was all at sea before the Owl and the Pussycat set sail.
WHAT DID YOU THINK OF THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT?
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Jane Barker: A tale of two misfits setting out on an unlikely adventure and finding love, laced with zany Pythonesque humour, with some slapstick thrown in, and catchy songs, all served up by a wonderfully talented young cast. Either I'm a complete featherbrain, or the Owl and the Pussycat is terrific fun. On a wet Friday night the only thing missing was a decent-sized audience to create the atmosphere the show deserved.