The Adelaide Fringe is one of the best ways to introduce your children to theatre. It’s also one of the best ways to be horrified at how some people interact with kids. I can’t stand patronising, one dimensional, shallow kids’ shows. There are many of them out there. Luckily, none of the shows we’ve seen this year are like that. All of them offer an experience to children that they’ll take away with them and remember. All of them treat kids as intelligent, complex beings who, quite frankly, can smell bullshit within seconds and will disengage as quickly as you can say: “Let’s pretend to be a fairy”.
Duckie is a stunning and poignant one-man show by critically acclaimed cabaret star Le Gateau Chocolat.
It would be safe to say that it, quite potentially, could be the best childrens’ show for adults at this year’s Adelaide Fringe. His voice is sublime. His compassion and childlike joy is heart bursting. His talent extraordinary. His story telling truly exceptional. In short, I want to see every show he’s ever been in.
However, I am not a child. And this has been billed as a kids’ show which it is, but the children with me and those nearby us did not seem as enamoured as the adults in the room.
I suppose here lies the quandary. Is it up to me to expose my children to a whole range of genres? Is it up to me to encourage my children to see shows that they may not necessarily connect with now, but I know will help build their knowledge of theatre and shape them into the future? Is it ok for me to take my children to shows that I actually enjoy more than them? And the answer to all of those questions is yes.
I spend a lot of time avoiding taking my kids to cookie cutter kids’ shows because they annoy and bore me. I’m the one who has to get them there, listen to them fight over who holds the slushie or who gets the first chip. It’s me who has to write the reviews or when not reviewing, it’s me who pays for the tickets, so yes, it’s me who decides what my kids see.
And while, this time, they found the story hard to grasp as the narrative was not as clear to them as it was to an adult. And while, this time, they did not appreciate Duckie’s transcendental singing voice. And while, this time, they weren’t connected to the character, therefore not moved when he learns to believe in himself nor understanding of the need to not judge people by their looks, but to embrace the fragility and uniqueness that connect us all. They will remember this show. They will remember how a man stood alone on a stage and opened his soul and shared with us his mesmerising talent.
This is why I take my children to a variety of shows. Shows that sometimes they might not necessarily enjoy as much as me, but ones which stand apart from the condensing crap which is often rammed down kids’ throats under the guise of “kids’ theatre”. Shows that my kids wouldn’t be able to distinguish from each other and will never be remembered.
Duckie will be remembered and will help expand my children’s repertoire, as it will yours, and for that reason is a must-see show.
9yo: 2/5 7yo: 2/5 5yo: 10/5 (she hasn’t quite grasped maths yet)
HOW TO BE A ROCKSTAR
Tessa Waters’ show WOMANz won the Most Outstanding Comedy Show at the Melbourne Fringe and a Best Comedy Weekly Award at the Adelaide Fringe in 2015 and this year she’s back with a show for kids.
With the help of her roadie, Tessa teaches kids how to be rockstars and they love every moment of the experience. There’s a heap of crowd participation, but luckily it’s done in a way which isn’t too scary for kids who find getting up in front of people scary. Adults are encouraged to join in the fun and it’s hard not too because the music is epic, man.
You can’t help but smile at your kids learning how to strut their stuff around the stage. And you may even forget yourself for a moment and engage in a little daggy dancing. It’s all part of the craziness.
Tessa is funny, captivating and the kids love her. You walk out of the show beaming and your kids get the chance to get down with some air guitar which is always a good thing.
What a rocking time this show is. It’s loads of fun.
ROCK ON over to the Garden of Unearthly Delights and check it out. It’s great for young and older kids. And adults who love to rock.
9yo: 4/5 7yo: 4/5 5yo: 10/5
BIG TOP BONANZA
I’ve seen some pretty shit circuses in my time. Last year, the kids and I spent much of one circus show with our hands over our eyes every time the performers attempted tricks because they just weren’t any good. So we were a little tentative to go to the Big Top Bonanza – a collection of short pieces from a range of circus shows. You know, just in case we got hit in the head with a rogue juggling ball or spinning plate.
It was anything but amateur. It was brilliant fun.
We saw snippets from some great shows including Kids Are Stinky and a really, really ridiculously athletic man spinning and holding his muscly body taught on a rope. Trust me, this was a lovely way to spend an afternoon. Each act was just long enough to match a kids’ attention span and this kept them engaged for the entire show, which as anyone with kids knows is a bonus.
But it was the host who stole the show. He was hilarious. He was the glue that held the show together. He was edgy, pretty darn rude at times and kept the kids laughing in their seats.
Our fear of circus shows was well and truly put to rest with this one. As Molly would say: “Do yourself a favour” and go see this show.
9yo: 5/5 7yo: 5/5 5yo: 10/5
We were gifted tickets to the shows. To purchase tickets to any of these shows go to: www.adelaidefringe.com.au And if you can’t afford shows this year, then just pop to the Garden of Unearthly Delights as it is a fab place to take the kids.
Have fun Fringe-ing!