Frisky Halfspeed Productions brings together a motley crew of bugs that make a band tiding over loneliness and alienation. Want to be your niece’s favourite aunt? Head to the Courtyard theatre near Shoreditch and settle them down for this delightful musical; pair it with going to a meadow and looking for the crickets, ladybirds, dung beetles, walking stick, ants and spiders you just saw! Written and directed by Johan Ribbing, it combines soul-funk music, memorable characters and witty lines.
There is something for adults and kids, being a musical that platforms diverse instruments like the saxophone, tambourine, guitar, piano, ukelele, drums and trumpet. We are taken on the transformational journey of Crickety Cricket, setting out on an adventure to find a band of his own. Brought to life by Milo Maris, with his beautiful patterned wings. We meet on the way Dung Beetle, played by Emily Page, who reminds us how they use poo to make their home, drumming, ant Louise Moberg who can’t stop feeling the rhythm in their bones and toes. Ladybird Anna Isabel Campos Lamers can’t stop herself from breaking into song while beating the tambourine. Saxophone playing Bee, with his rounded personality, has one in splits.
It would be helpful to reflect on some stereotypes that trickle in, like we don’t need a man to chaperone a pair of women bugs through the cold, dark forests. The story is enduring in its actors’ commitment, enthusiasm and the charming predicament they face that each of us has met as an obstacle sometimes.
The response to children’s theatre is immediate; we witnessed a young child at the end of the performance hop through the audience to hug her favourite character and another child needing to take a break during the performance to step out. The show would be delightful for children to learn to identify their bugs while reflecting on their disappearance and importance in our fragile ecosystem. Wishing this production of friends great success and many travels.
Reviewer: Anisha Pucadyil
Reviewed: 25th August 2023
North West End UK Rating: