Audience collaboration welcome

Gordon Jones
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'Murmel, Murmel, Mortimer, Munsch' a cheerful show for children

What is it about alliteration that delights kids so? As you may surmise from the title, "Murmel, Murmel, Mortimer, Munsch," is a show for children. On offer in the Basement Theatre of the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre, the c2c show is a theatrical rendition of selected stories by children's author Robert Munsch.

Six diverting episodes are presented on a bright and colourful set. With the encouragement of youngsters in the audience, five-year old Angela wanders into the cockpit of an empty aircraft and starts pressing buttons. Not a good idea. Raucous young Mortimer has trouble sleeping and won't keep quiet, despite the intervention of parents, siblings, and a pair or policemen. Poor Shelley has to clear up a big mess of socks thrown onto her bedroom floor by a boy who is now occupying her sock drawer.

What is it about alliteration that delights kids so? As you may surmise from the title, "Murmel, Murmel, Mortimer, Munsch," is a show for children. On offer in the Basement Theatre of the St. John's Arts and Culture Centre, the c2c show is a theatrical rendition of selected stories by children's author Robert Munsch.

Six diverting episodes are presented on a bright and colourful set. With the encouragement of youngsters in the audience, five-year old Angela wanders into the cockpit of an empty aircraft and starts pressing buttons. Not a good idea. Raucous young Mortimer has trouble sleeping and won't keep quiet, despite the intervention of parents, siblings, and a pair or policemen. Poor Shelley has to clear up a big mess of socks thrown onto her bedroom floor by a boy who is now occupying her sock drawer.

A cookie jar is opened - a little eerie this episode. Out comes a small, dark cube that eats up shadows. Growing exponentially (accompanied by chiaroscuro lighting cues), it consumes shadows of toasters, cars, telephone poles, houses, even shadows of grass and butterflies - all cleverly mimed by the four performers - until The Dark is finally lured back into the cookie jar. A baby is found in a playground sandbox, but how do you know what to do with it if you are only five years old? And, in the final sketch, Jule Ann imprudently opens the door of a pig pen, allowing the critters to escape into the farm kitchen - where they do what pigs do. They follow her to school, where they occupy the principal's office, invade the classroom, and join Jule Ann on the school bus taking her home - all the while doing what pigs do. Perhaps pigs are smarter than you think, Jule Ann concludes. They are certainly funnier.

Mark Power, Katie Butler, Willow Kean and Jennifer Furlong handle performance and narration breezily and ebulliently, skilfully evoking little kids, while slipping out of child roles to represent fathers, mothers, and other adults who abut on the kiddy universe. Narrative and action are accompanied by a catchy musical score and amusing sound effects, provided by Chris Driedzic, artfully deploying drums, triangle, whistle, xylophone, blocks and rattles - a miscellany of child-friendly instruments and percussive devices.

Directed by Sandy Gow, in her second shot at Munsch, the "Murmel, Murmel, Mortimer, Munsch" entertainment runs until Dec. 13 in the Basement Theatre on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays at 4 p.m. and 7 p.m. If the opening night audience provided an accurate litmus test, parents and young children will suck up this cheerful show.

Admission is $10, space is limited, and audience collaboration by way of shouting, hollering, and boinging is definitely encouraged.

Organizations: Basement Theatre

Geographic location: St. John's

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  • Stacey
    July 02, 2010 - 13:22

    My 5 year old son and I seen this show on Saturday night and enjoyed it very much. Great job to those involved. We would love to attend any upcoming shows.

  • Stacey
    July 01, 2010 - 20:06

    My 5 year old son and I seen this show on Saturday night and enjoyed it very much. Great job to those involved. We would love to attend any upcoming shows.