Entertaining songs, performed by 2 monkey puppets that get the whole audience dancing along.
Presented by Amazing Drumming Monkeys
Reviewed 27 February 2021
For several years now, I’ve been wanting to take my daughter to see The Amazing Drumming Monkeys, a regular act at the Adelaide Fringe. This year, I was able to make it to one of their shows early in their season. Unfortunately, there was nothing amazing about this show.
Don’t get me wrong, the skill it takes to perform live percussion through a puppet, with the operator hiding completely from sight, is impressive. But it was the overall arch of this show, the script, and the recycling message that was forced in rather unsuccessfully that let this 40-minute children’s show down.
The concept behind the show is simple, and is executed well. Two monkey puppets perform songs whilst playing a variety of drums. As a musician myself, I do tip my hat to the puppeteers, who very successfully played both a drum kit and several African drums live throughout the performance, all while also operating the puppets. Their songs successfully got the children and adults singing and doing the actions along with them.
The script of the show, however, felt very unrehearsed, disjointed and lacking energy in delivery. The “story time” in the middle of the show, with a recycling message, felt very out of place, like it had been just dropped there just to say this show had an educational message. It just didn’t work. It would have flowed better if the script had more environmental and recycling messages through the whole show, or was left out entirely. There also was a failed “stunt” with a high-diving turtle plush toy, that should have been moved on from after the second failed attempt….not continuing till they made it work….on the 6th attempt. By then, they had lost both the children’s and adults’ attention.
One thing that really needs to be pointed out, and hopefully will be rectified quickly is the lack of venue management and their assistance throughout the show. A large number of parents seemed to use this show as a babysitting service and sat back, chatting and leaving their children to climb onto the stage, touch the set (even pulling some of the toys off the stage) and at one point, a young child fell under the stage. Someone from Front of House did walk in at the 35 minute mark (of a 40 minute show) and attempt to stop the unattended children, but by then there really was no point. All it needed was a barricade just out from the stage, and a staff member to keep kids, and their parents, in check. It sadly was a real dampener for my daughter who was constantly frustrated from not being able to see due to her visibility being blocked.
Hopefully the monkeys find their feet, and pace, over the course of their run.
Reviewed by: Ben Stefanoff
Venue: 3 Venues: Umbrella Revolution at The Garden of Unearthly Delights, Main Theatre at Middleback Arts Centre (Whyalla) and The Hall at Murray Bridge Town Hall (see website for venue dates)
Season: February 20 – March 27 at various locations
Duration: 40 minutes
Tickets: From $18.00
Rating out of 5: 3