You don’t get a much higher pedigree of children’s entertainment than the performers and writers of The Singing Kettle, and with Funbox the same spirit and energy finds a new home in front of live audiences once again. Kevin Macleod has to fly solo for Funbox: Back to the Fringe (Anya Scott-Rodgers can’t be there as she has just had a baby), but it is still a fun and interactive experience guaranteed to get young kids dancing along with glee.
The Funbox crew are all practiced hands at family shows, with an unashamed focus on younger audience members but throwing just enough in to appease the mums and dads in attendance as well. The format is simple enough: Macleod opens the fun box four times using different coloured keys, and each one in turn leads into another entertaining sketch featuring numerous characters – including the ever loved Bonzo the dog. Also appearing is Greedy Guts, a strange delight who looks like he’s been taken straight from one of Jim Henson’s more abstract puppet projects, munching and guzzling anything in his path. Every scenario is met with laughter, screams and beaming smiles by the audience, easily won over by Funbox’s colourful charm and cheekiness.
Macleod knows exactly how to get all the children singing and dancing along, inviting them to be part of the show with silly games and musical numbers. A supremely talented singer and stage performer, his enthusiasm and passion for what he does has never dropped even after all these decades. His interactions with the characters, Bonzo in particular, also make for great fun regardless of how old you are. Macleod is obviously having an amazing time on stage, and this energy reaches every member of the audience.
Funbox: Back at the Fringe is full of wonder and fun; a triumphant return for children’s theatre that if nothing else will charm and woo its way into the hearts of adults as well. A mixture of new material and the return of some classic characters work a treat, and kids will be looking forward to the next time they get to open the locks to the fun box. With a Christmas tour on the way, they might not be waiting long.