IF you’ve seen the Numberjacks TV programme on Cbeebies, you’ll already know it’s more odd than even.
What with computer generated talking numbers alongside human baddies, including a creepy bloke in a white top hat and frockcoat called the Numbertaker, yes, very odd indeed.
So imagine this transferred to a live stage show at Northampton’s vast 1,400 seater theatre – with fewer than 50 in the audience.
The only ‘real’ Numberjacks appeared on a giant TV screen well into the show. Numbers 1 and 4 staggered about as tatty foam shapes with legs, and watching a human ‘Number 3’ emerge from her parked foam ‘body’ was surreal, too much like that scene from ‘V’ and altogether a little disturbing. Almost as disturbing as the actress’s high-pitched shrieking.
The two main characters, a cleaner called Jamie (think CBBC’s Barney’s scruffier cousin) and waitress Astra (a younger, brunette version of Amanda Holden) managed to somehow string out a plot and interact panto-like with the audience.
For all its weirdness, Bonnie, who loves the TV show, and her fellow pre-schoolers were gripped throughout. Bonnie sat on my knee whenever the Numbertaker came on stage and has been talking about him as some kind of generic bogeyman everytime she wants to get out of doing something ever since: “I can’t, the Numbertaker will get me” kind of thing.
I don’t think it’s Royal & Derngate’s fault, but the production people of this touring show need to have a good long think about whether this should have been booked for such a huge space.
If they’d sold tickets at say, £3 a head to local nurseries and reception classes, and filled the Royal stalls, I think they’d have a larger number of children enjoying a theatre trip and a better atmosphere in which to show that both theatre, and numbers, can be fun. If a little weird. . .