BANANAMAN REVIEW – SOUTHWARK PLAYHOUSE

BANANAMAN – A WILD, WACKY, DAFT ADAPTATION WITH COMEDIC GENIUS!

So if you know who Bananaman is then your are probably a child of the 80’s or 70’s. I myself came to know Bananaman in my early years of childhood after being born in 1982. Therefore for that reason was utterly intrigued in how a Comic character, turned Cartoon, turned stage adaptation would translate.

In my head i thought this is the type of musical that will be silly, stupid funny. Not to be taken overly seriously and it was exactly that! i fear people will either love or hate this musical. But if you allow the nostalgia take you on this journey then you will side with me and totally laugh out loud with this adaptation.

Set in the Southwark Playhouse, if you have never attended before is a small theatre, with its 240 people main house the setting for this play. Not leaving the actors lots of space of which to act in the space is utilised excellently. Being so close to the action too ensures a closeness you don’t get with large scale productions.

Large scale productions however come with bigger budgets, with this being small scale the budget is smaller and so to work this show had to be entertaining and funny. The props are hilariously simple and let you delve into your imagination to imagine the picture or scene. Some may laugh at the cheapness of them however i believe it lends to its appeal.

The storyline – Eric Wimp a young schoolboy who lives on Acacia Road with his overprotective mother, accidentally becomes a superhero after an asteroid hits Acacia Rise powered by his love of Bananas. Luckily for his neighbours that is of course  as the Evil Players in this play Dr Gloom and General Blight are on a mission to take over the world with total control. Bananaman with his new found power and sidekick in ‘Crow’ go on a mission to save the world from this. You will however have to go and see this show to see and find out about the rest as you have to see it to believe it.

The story is a typical comic book line, whatever the boundaries that this gives the play, the cast are superb and are the real superheroes in this.

Eric Wimp played by Mark Newnham portrays our day to day character superbly, the good boy who kisses his mother goodbye every morning, picked on at school and who just wishes to be something.Of course every story has a love story and in Fiona Williams the buddy reporter he has a friend he wishes to be more. Matthew McKenna plays the alter ego and big man in yellow and blue, who couldn’t be further from the boy Eric Wimp, in a big suit with muscles accentuated, standing at a tall 6ft something, you visibly see the difference these bananas have! Matthew in his well spoken manner, with confidence bordering arrogance in his ability plays out with humour and homage to the character well.

Emma Ralston played the aforementioned reporter to be role perfectly. Her investigative, nosey yet fiercely independent  demeanor meant she always wanted to know what was happening and made sure she did, she was the girl who Always had a question! Her voice to was fantastic and carried through with her her Scottish accent marvelously.

Crow played by Jodie Jacobs was also a standout performer, having to puppeteer throughout, her voice fabulous, she was still able to give expression through her own actions as well as ensuring the puppet was as an individual character as it could be in real life. Bananaman had his allies in Chief O’Reilly and yes as the surname suggests this Irish counterpart was funny throughout with his count to eleven quips, love for being a policeman and pure naivity.

As with every superhero there is always a bad guy and in this showing we were privileged enough to have two! General Blight and Dr Gloom played by Marc Pickering and Carl Mullaney were outstanding. Two very different characters with the same aim coming together to take over the world. Performances of these are strong and ensure laughs aloud. From their wonderful songs, Evil Plans to General Blights dancing – these would be evil Lords had us entertained.

Some reviews have this as two star others five star. We’ve settled on a four star banana rating. I promise if you let yourself take this in for the parody that it is, silly humour and slapstick comedy you will enjoy this.

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