The bar for children's television parody has been set pretty high at the Fringe in recent years by comedian Jeremy Lion, but rarely does this rather unoriginal effort come close to reaching it.
It takes as its premise the oft-used idea that a children's tv show is presented by a collection of issue-riddled adults whose personal demons inevitably rise to the fore. Here the fall guy is Chesley Chippenham, a bearded history nerd, whose marriage to bubbly co-presenter Kath is being threatened by the lusty advances of Andy the Handyman.
It starts strongly, and despite a few obvious first preview nerves, the cast are a likeable lot who illicit some genuine laugh-out-loud moments. But it quickly goes downhill as several cameo characters misfire (an American alt-rock singer falls especially flat) and the world of Squirrel Party becomes increasingly impossible to believe.
There’s some nice off-beat dialogue (“old people, like natural gas or beef, are one of our most valued commodities” Chesley chirpily tells the children), and one or two stand-out performances, but on the whole this is one squirrel party I didn’t go nuts for.