Tuesday, 1 December 2020

REVIEW: Sleeping Trees' The Legend of Moby Dick Whittington (Online)

The latest Christmas online offering from Sleeping Trees says it is “suitable for all ages” and there is no doubt the 50-minute show will not offend anyone but it is aimed firmly at a young audience (up to 10 perhaps) watching with their parents and there are other online shows available that older audiences will find more engaging and enjoyable. However, as this must be the target audience it does deliver a lively interactive show which mixes up a range of stories to amusing effect and will entertain a younger person.

The show is described as the latest “annual Christmas living room adventure”. It lives up to this billing but has the feel of an improvised madcap home video with some good innovative touches and a clever edit that makes the most of the three actors! The three performers who together with Ben Hales wrote the show feel like a young version of the popular Edinburgh Fringe show “The Noise next door” with their anarchic improv style. Director Kerry Frampton and Director of Photography Shaun Reynolds keep if feeling spontaneous while clearly at times needing to edit extensively to all the three actors to change costumes.

The show works hard to engage the young audience throughout requiring them to participate in much of the action. Early on we are told to pause the stream and collect “scrunched up balls of paper, Toilet rolls cardboard tubes, wooden utensils, and a bedsheet” so that we are prepared to join in. We are called on a various times in the audio and with on-screen graphics to “pelt the screen with paper balls”, ”Boo now”, “paddle with wooden spoons”, “spot the whale with the toilet roll tubes”, build and wreck a ship in the lounge, dance, hide under the bedsheet and then “use tickle fingers, run fast on the spot and jump all around”. They do apologise to parents watching for the chaos caused! We are also encouraged to post pictures of this chaos under #Homemadeshipbuild and #Homemadeshipwreck.

The tale combines the story of Dick Whittington (a year on from becoming mayor), the story of Moby Dick, the white whale, Pinocchio, with a hint of Captain Hook & splattering of Goldilocks with a promotion for Starbucks coffee shops! They do manage to make sense of this mashup and cleverly share out the parts and edit to make it all work. Joshua George Smith is Dick, Susan (a rat) and the Whale (looking like someone in a full-body plaster cast laying in the bath). John Woodburn is Dr Jessica Ahab & Pinocchio (with a selection of noses). James Dunnell- Smith is the Cat, a rat, the fancy dress pirate captain, and Starbucks. They look like they are having fun and energetically bound around the house interior converting everyday items into show props.

This is a fresh feeling production, full of joy and fun which I think under 10’s will enjoy and rate as Four Stars but it is no substitute for the traditional pantomime family outing that so many will miss this year. It will entertain a young family for an hour plus perhaps another 30 minutes to tidy up afterwards!

Review by Nick Wayne

Rating: ★★★

Seat: Stream online until 5th January 2021

Price: £5
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