Arr We There Yet?

Sat 4th – Sat 25th August 2018

reviews

Shauna Lewis

at 09:47 on 6th Aug 2018

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Up front offering a kids entertainment show, ‘Arr We There Yet?’ gives its target audience plenty of opportunity to enjoy themselves whilst sneaking in enough jokes for the adults to enjoy.

The vague plot of pirates searching for treasure works well enough within the circus format, but the plot isn’t really what the audience is there for, and the troupe knows this. Although their acting can seem half-hearted at times, it becomes apparent across the course of the show that it is incredibly tongue-in-cheek.

For the younger viewers, the acting worked well enough, and the easy charisma of all the actors carried the show for the rest of the audience. Navigating missing ladders and heckles from children, they showed their ability to handle almost anything with ease.

What families were there for, however, were the acrobatic acts littered throughout. It could have been thought that the limited stage space would restrain the actors, but as we watched them climb up free-standing ladders and a maneuver around the stage in a gigantic hoop, this fear was immediately dispersed. Versatile in their roles, and using each other as climbing frames, there were frequent gasps among the audience. It just makes you wonder what is being achieved in their other shows.

It could have been slicker in places, with props and crash mats being brought on by the actors, and with the staging being quite bare, but they made it work. Other shows may have used a more elaborate system to indicate setting, but again, the easy-going nature of the actors seamlessly made it part of the show.

Although there were (truly) terrible pirate jokes throughout, they soon enough gave way to innuendos of, “It’s not the size of your telescope, it’s how you see with it”, along with “We’re really, really high.” Obvious, and maybe even lewd, they still did the trick, as sometimes the cast even struggled to hold it together. Perhaps not professional in this sense, but it added to the charm.

With both jokes and actors flying over the heads of the children, 'Arr We There Yet?' was nevertheless enjoyable for the whole audience. In what would have been an hour of pandering to kids, it became much more fun for everyone. Their jokes worked cleverly in the sense that the adult audience could gather this was only the opening act. Advertising their ‘adult’ show at the end of their performance, ‘Circus’cision: Those Who Made The Cut’, it became clear their innuendos came from a very different style of show.

Most of the families came for the circus aspect, but undoubtedly many of them left thinking about the general atmosphere of the performance: funny, self-aware and not taking itself too seriously. It also allowed for a few heartfelt moments in the ways the ‘pirates’ interacted with the children, and I’m sure many adults will be returning to their later shows, very soon.

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Amy Barrett

at 09:52 on 6th Aug 2018

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As the only person who hadn’t brought a small child with them, I was a little daunted as I took my seat ahead of Head First Acrobats’ 'Arr We There Yet?' A pirate-inspired, acrobatic performance aimed at children sounded like the last thing I wanted to see at the Fringe. However, I left having thoroughly enjoyed myself along with the audience of all ages.

Verging on a pantomime-esque production, 'Arr We There Yet' follows the simple plot of – you guessed it – pirates looking for treasure. A basic, yet crucial decision made by Head First Acrobat as the easy-to-follow plot allowed room for astounding acrobatics to take place whilst not overcomplicating the show for its young audience. I was sceptical of the collaboration between pirates and the circus. It could’ve been a clumsy combination of acting and irrelevant circus tricks, yet each trick had been incorporated wonderfully into the script. A ladder to board the boat, a giant hula hoop as a steering wheel, and a see-saw to walk the plank made for excellent acrobatics, impressing parents and children alike.

The stage combat did let the production down slightly. Whilst the fight scenes had clearly been well rehearsed, it was painfully obvious that the slaps were the claps of the other actors which detracted from the show’s professionalism in my opinion. However, this perception is from the eyes of an adult, and perhaps may not have influenced the children’s reception of the performance.

Like all good children’s entertainment, hidden amongst the obvious comedy is adult humour, and 'Arr We There Yet?' incorporated this superbly. Lines such as “We’re all really really high” and “You always get the clap” sent the adults in room into fits of laughter, without awkwardly encouraging the children around them to question their laughter. Furthermore, the spontaneous metafiction provided by each of the three actors when children in the audience became a little challenging really added to the enjoyable experience.

Children are life’s harshest critics; they’re never afraid to express their genuine opinion. Therefore, the fits of giggles that were sent round The Underbelly Circus prove that 'Arr We There Yet?' is a truly brilliant production. And if you don’t fancy watching a piece of children’s theatre, check out their other show Circus-Cision – I know I’ll be there.

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