'Monkey Bars' review or 'When I grow uuuuup!'

'Monkey Bars', devised by Chris Goode
Unicorn Theatre, 10th January 2013
Written for Time Out 

Here's a slap in the face to those who believe verbatim theatre is a sterile genre. Chris Goode and Company's 'Monkey Bars' is based on a series of interviews with eight-to-ten year olds, their words re-interpreted by adult actors. It is a profoundly moving show, which reminds us that, deep down inside, we're all still the children we used to be.

In a stroke of conceptual genius, Goode places the children's conversations within an adult framework. An earnest discussion about bubblegum is re-imagined as a job interview, a girl eulogises about cake to strains of classical music and a bunch of boys boast about their 'mountains of money' over post-work drinks.

Such clever juxtapositions yield great insight. We realise that everything we take so seriously today - job interviews, debates, therapy - is simply an extension of our childhood games, only the vocabulary has shifted . Is growing up just about expressing the same beliefs and passions only with slightly fancier words?

The superb cast generates great swells of warm humour, whilst never pandering for laughs. Christian Roe and Philip Bosworth are brilliant as two nattering young chaps, bemoaning the state of Britain. They resemble bitter old men and suggest just how early on we begin to grow old.

The cast delivers the children's hopes for fame, fortune and super human strength with absolute sincerity. We remember the endless optimism and fearless honesty of youth. Children are exactly like us, says Goode - only with the protective layers of bullshit and doubt stripped right off.


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