Anyone with the vaguest knowledge of children will know that, above all else, they are unpredictable. Funny, frustrating, and unpredictable. Trusting a child to produce an hour's worth of material is certainly a bold choice, but after suffering writers bloc that is exactly what Owen Roberts decided to do.
Normally one-third of the sketch show BEASTS (who happen to be amazing), Owen is usually the more serious of the three, often fighting against the incompetence of his show-mate's personas. This show sees Roberts adopt a very similar persona, displaying exasperation at the child’s efforts, although losing some authority as he’s dressed as a giant chicken. His costume, by the way, is perhaps one of the best chicken costumes I’ve ever seen.
6-year-old Isabella has an abundance of imagination and enthusiasm, featuring in the show through audio recordings. The budding writer produces a barrage of jokes that only a child could come up with, and a fantastical play about Boss Stern, ‘a police’ from China with ginger hair who is moving to Africa. Needless to say, the story his girlfriend’s daughter (there needs to be a name for that relationship) produced was crazy and nonsensical. It was cute, wild, and naive to the realities of Robert’s venue (and budget). It was unrestrained, and it was adorable.
In many ways, this show has all the characteristics of a child. It is undeniably funny, and how can you ever predict what will come from a child’s mind? But there are also frustrating moments. Frustrating because the show would be moving along with exceptional pace, and then suddenly come crashing to a halt. There were a number of points where the pacing was lost - usually when Roberts was connecting the various recordings of his ‘squatter’. This is not to say Roberts isn't funny, for he is very obviously a naturally gifted comedian, but the tonal shift between his co-writers musings and his own are at times jarring.
There was one more thing this show unexpectedly offered. It had heart. Completely out of left field, a single piece that lasted no longer than a minute had me fighting back tears. That's how invested we had come in the story and relationship between the unlikely collaborators. That moment lingered with me for a long time, and after the show I later lost the fight.
The energy of the show ebbed and flowed, but never became too much, and it was impossible not to love. I imagine a lot like having a child.
For tickets and more information, visit the Ed Fringe website.