Big Trouble in the Little Bedroom at Hull Truck Theatre
If there's something theatreland could do with more of it is quality entertainment for all the family and hmmm, let's see, a musical adventure would do nicely. But wait a minute! John Godber, he responsible for the recent adult depravity piece (Unleashed), to write it? Surely some mistake. Before you get on the phone to the politically correct police, I can tell you that not only has Godber set his pen to the task, he's delivered one of the finest examples of fun-for-all-variety to have hit the stage in a long time.
Big Trouble in the Little Bedroom combines some good old fashioned song and dance with Alice In Wonderland style fantasy, Norse mythology and the illogical surrealism of a child's fertile imagination. Stan West (Nick Haverson) is a rather dull dweeb of an 11-year-old who is bullied by classmates George (James Rayment) and Ginger (Jo Theaker). After Norse God Thor (a booming performance by Ray Gardner) accidentally drops his hammer Mjollnir into Stan's room whilst doing a spot of DIY up in the clouds, all kinds of weird and wonderful things begin to happen. Thor appears in Stan's little bedroom, as do a three-headed policeman, a Chinese dragon, a long boat, some Frost Monsters and a dancing weather reporting radio.
Nick Haverson never fails to impress in performance and, as an eleven year old, he demonstrates his full throttle Chuckle Brothers style in a pleasing display of crazy immaturity. Sally Carman is equally entertaining as Stan's mum, dancing and ironing her way through the play a la Mrs Merton, while ensuring Thor acquiesces in the housework department.
Hull Truck is a limited space - opportunities to fly scenery, for example, are restricted by the fact that the building's ceiling height is equivalent to that of your average living room - but there is plenty of extravagance to thrill the audience.
John Pattison's music and Pip Leckenby's designs contribute immensely to the spectacle and, having been involved with Ayckbourn's plays for children up the road in Scarbrough, the whole thing has a Stephen Joseph Theatre look and feel, much more so than SJT's own recent work in Hull. Entertaining and comedic song lyrics come courtesy of Jane Thornton, whose 'Dentist Song', about a tooth extractor who just wants to be loved, is one of many high points.
More than mere fun, this is educational entertainment which should give kids a thirst for both Viking knowledge and more trips to the theatre. Godber gives bullies and their victims food for thought and any teacher would find this play a useful discussion raising resource. A most impressive play and one worthy of a long shelf life.
Until 15 January 2000.