Monkey Bars gently grabs you by the heart and the mind and doesn't stop showing you things and making you think and feel for the full extent of its 1 hour 15 minute duration.
Incredibly, it has achieved this by simply recording interviews with 72 children conducted by Karl James (co-director of Tim Crouch's The Author, in which Chris Goode performed) and staging the results. Goode – credited as writer, director and sound designer – has shaped the dialogues into a funny, touching, diffuse look at The Big Questions.
The staging is crisply perfect, switching from beautiful sequences in which one of the uniformly excellent six-strong cast delivers a child's thoughts or description of a dream into a microphone in a warm, glowing light like it was the work of a modernist poet, through to cleverly suggested adult situations - a first date, a job interview, Friday night after work drinks - providing poignant or hilarious counterpoints to the actual words.
Not content with having a beguilingly perfect-seeming structure, the piece also cleverly contrives to be meaningful; to be *about* something. It has a discernible political voice and purpose, which at no point betrays the trust of the children who have been interviewed.
Monkey Bars looks at the redistribution of wealth, taxation and the monarchy, and the existence of Allah and the tenets of Islam and even “the decline of the youth of today” as seen through the eyes of two 10-year-olds. It also covers burning issues like favourite sweets, what you'd do if you were made out of your favourite sweet, and which superpower you'd like to have.
It moves you. It makes you think. It makes you laugh and it makes you well up more than once. Most of all, it will make you wonder why we adults don't take children a lot more seriously.
- Andrew Haydon