The Greatest Goat of All Time is a new family-friendly play that’s a bit of a mashup of various styles – standup, character comedy, music, audience interaction and visual projection. It’s all combined here to tell a story: Glenda (played by Sam Battersea), who lives on a small plot of land in a caravan, is in love with farmer Doug. When he moves to Australia, she uses the singing goat he left her, to raise enough money for a plane journey to visit him and live happily ever after. Although it doesn’t quite work out like that.
The show really opens with some crowd work from Charlie Baker. He talks to children in the audience and cracks some silly jokes that gets everybody on board, even if this standup style feels a little odd for a kids show. He then describes a new genre of music he’s created – clip-clop – combining his love of the countryside with American hip-hop. The rap he goes on to perform is delivered skillfully and the lyrics, if you can catch them all, are witty, even if some of the references are above the childrens’ heads. Oddly, though, this clever style of song doesn’t go on to feature much in the main play itself.
Glenda’s narrative then takes over and The Greatest Goat seems to become something else, morphing into a melodrama with the feel of a younger childrens’ TV show, but the plot elements of something a bit beyond them. The premise of Glenda figuring out how she can pimp out her singing goat to tour the country and rack up enough finances to visit a man in Australia just all seems outside the interest level of the target audience. In addition, one of the play’s key turning points – Graeme the goat becoming a YouTube sensation with his new song Plastic Sky – happens rather abruptly without much explanation. OK, it’s a children’s show about a singing goat, but the parents – who many of the jokes are geared towards – might be scratching their heads a bit.
Baker and Battersea themselves are talented performers and their accents and character work are engaging and funny. Baker in particular hits gold with his elderly neighbour character who seems more and more decrepit every time she makes an appearance on stage and his song about goat poo towards the climax (ridiculous as it is) is probably the show’s comedic highlight. Another interesting feature of The Greatest Goat is the simple use of an overhead projector to create charming and funny cartoon-images on a screen to help move the story along. For a ticketed show in the Piccolo Tent, though, it does perhaps have a little of a ‘home-made’ feel to it.
As a light-hearted way to spend an hour, The Greatest Goat will satisfy most family audiences. However, it feels like the performers’ comedic and musical skills might have been better exploited with a different script to lean on.