REVIEW: Show Up, Kids!

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SHOW:  Show Up, Kids!

VENUE:  Laughing Horse @ The Counting House

TIME: 12.00

DATES:   Run Closed

A superbly improvised hour of energetic theatrical comedy for kids who want to show up and get involved.  (And a beautiful intro to improvised comedy for those who are a little more shy.)

Finding himself on stage after Sally the Silly Song Singer doesn’t show up, Peter takes on the challenge and asks for support from the audience to put on the best show he possibly can.   Peter Michael Marino connects with the children in the audience naturally and immediately, initially creating a sense of tension and uncertainty before launching into a frenetic and fast paced series of scenes and invitations for children to participate in.  
This is a masterclass in audience engagement and participation based on the adult version – ‘Show Up’ – where Marino uses his extensive experience and improv skills to create a show from a loose and flexible premise.   Part of the reason this show works so effectively is Marino’s s ability to work with the children who are desperate to take part as well as the children who may be unsure.   He takes the traditional challenges of kids shows (the shouting out, movement and the sometimes nonsensical suggestions) and turns them into virtues.   This goes way beyond children providing suggestions – they physically get involved as he ventures into the room to connect with the audience and then uses some of them to manage music, props and the set itself.  This technique creates an air of genuine warmth and interaction between audience and performer which is rare to see. The children revel in the idea that they are part of what is going on, not merely an observer.   And all this at pace, with perfect comedic timing.
I was accompanied to the show by my two sons, one aged 10, the other aged 8.  Both were genuinely concerned when Sally didn’t arrive as they had bought the set up completely.   Once they realised the gag, they quickly became involved and were immediately on Peter’s side.  I was confidently told in a whisper, ‘Don’t worry Dad, he’ll be really good.’   And therein lies the core of this show.   The audience believe in Peter and the fact that whilst he may have been scared at the start, he will put on the show.  And it will be good.   
‘Show Up, Kids!’ is silly, fast and funny.  There were shark attacks, slug flavoured ice creams, precocious children, singing, standing on tables and the sort of high energy fooling around that kids love.   Peter Michael Marino handles the unpredictability of working with children in an improvised environment with great skill and grace, putting on a fantastic performance which my children were talking about long after the show.    They both gave it five stars.   And they were right……..

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