To take the words of children and put them in the mouths of adults makes for an exciting and revealing hour of theatre, courtesy of Chris Goode and Company.
‘It’s nice to have someone to be interested really’ said one child in the course of the sessions which have helped shape Monkey Bars, and in truth that’s the kind of experience most of us seek and treasure when we find one.
Shaped and honed from conversations with a number of children, what Monkey Bars demonstrates in some very clever and quirky ways, is how very demanding an experience growing up can be, even if our circumstances and parents do not conspire against us. Equally, it shows the truth of what we all know, that all children are, in essence, their own parents and come to face the disappointing outcome of their aspirations; that we never quite manage to ‘grow up’.
Negotiating the fragile and friable territory that is childhood, the actors in this production switch from child to adult with commendable facility; the children of their creation are no-one’s little darlings, but most assuredly themselves.
Childhood, after all, is a comparatively recent invention, and not an option available to all. In a world that remains sharply divided between haves and have-nots, childhood is something only the wealthy can afford.
But it’s certainly fun if you can, and in Monkey Bars the cast must have had a great deal of fun developing this production, which shins through from first to last line.
Monkey Bars really is a very clever (in the best sense) piece of work, using children’s views as a perfect vehicle to skewer the assumptions and prejudices of their elders.
Imagining the pub bore or office bully as they might have been in kindergarten may help us deal more effectively with them; it’s also the basis of much psychoanalytic theory and practice.
So the cast demonstrate, as their characters wander between school classroom and a range of adult situations, formal and informal.
Altogether, this is a very sharp, sensitive and self-aware play that takes us back to where we have come from and reminds us how very close we often are to where we started.
August 14-25, various times
August 16,19, 21, 22, 23, 26 £17 (£12)
August 17, 18, 24, 25 £19 (£14)