No one can doubt the inspired silliness credentials of writer Andrew Pollard and director Adam Sunderland following their production of Heidi for Northern Broadsides last year. So the success of The Hunt for the Scroobious Pip in Scarborough’s McCarthy Auditorium is hardly a surprise.
The Scroobious Pip is an animal that defies all definition in an unfinished poem by Edward Lear. Pollard invents the hunt for it as the rarest animal in the world as the peg for choice encounters with characters from the world of Lear, notably the Quangle Wangle Quee, he of the egregious hat, and a couple of Jumblies left behind when the others sailed home (in their sieve, of course). The text even manages to find excuses to bring in assorted Lear limericks.
The acting and production are as unassumingly inventive as the text. Philip Pellew invests Mr. Quangle Wangle Quee with uncertain conviction and put-upon authority, Matt Connor and Lindsay Allen are as innocently mischievous as Jumblies ought to be, and all three relate easily to the audience of tinies, especially in the ceremonial farewells at the end of the first half.
Kieran Buckeridge provides some singable songs and some excellent incidental music, atmospheric or just plain jolly, and the designs of Michael Roberts range from the magnificently elaborate (the Quangle Wangle’s hat) to the basic, such as scenes and props drawn in chalk by the cast. That home-made feel is continued by the Jumblies’ trolley, home to various props plus the turntable that “plays” the incidental music.