No-one need go short of theatrical entertainment this year, as many of the usual suspects we’d be visiting in theatres have transformed themselves into online shows, some live, some pre-recorded, and the best ones really embracing the virtual format.
Roustabout are clearly a tight-knit group, and that’s vital for their improv-based show. I’m always amazed by how coherent improvised shows can be, and the one we saw was fabulous - full of songs, sets, costume-changes, and all fueled by the young audience’s suggestions. We had some ideas that you might have predicted, like a minecraft world, and some you might not, like characters including the Itanium Ninja and my son’s real-life best friend. These were seamlessly worked into a plot involving the theft of the North Pole.
I loved the gentle nature of the show, when so many things for children are very over-hyped - we had none of that “Christmas will be RUINED” sort of message, and this year I think it’s particularly important children don’t think Christmas can be ruined by a change of plans (or even something as statistically unlikely as a lack of snow!). Instead we had a story of reconciliation and kindness, punctuated by some very unlikely props, and the sort of visual trickery that’s only possible in a virtual world.
If this year has been a test, then Roustabout have aced it. One day I’d love to see their show in a theatre, but for now a live show delivered to your house where all ages can enjoy it (and no-one is going to mind my two-year old rushing in and out), where children can be bold and make suggestions or shy and turn their cameras off, that’s just what we need. And when it’s all over, their website has some lovely videos of acting games, if you want to continue the fun at home. Well worth seeing!