James Campbell @ Queens Theatre
2:00pm, Sat 25 Feb 2006
I admit it: I’m a big kid. Emphasis on “kid” (and “big”). So I felt absolutely no shame in dragging my sleepy arse out of bed and getting it to one of Campbell’s plethora of family-friendly (in content, as well as time) shows. Despite the frankly disturbing photo on his advertising, it was great to see the turnout for the show; there was at least 120 people there.
Campbell has a great stage presence: exuberant, without entering the “try-hard” zone, and easily builds a friendly rapport with the audience. He wins the kids over with tales of tractor video games (a nice little monologue on Grand Theft Tractor); he wins parents over with sly jokes about reincarnation and the girlfriend/fiancé dichotomy; he wins everyone over with his elaborate analysis of emergency numbers, milking dogs, and the answer to What Hair Is For.
Sure, your average four-to-six-year-old isn’t going to get jokes about the Word Bookstore just down from the (glorious) Queen’s Theatre, nor appreciate the gorgeous surrealism of the stepfather cardigan; and they’re certainly not going to care about his humorous bitches about the 2004 Fringe scheduling, nor the prevalence of consumerism in kids shows. And they certainly won’t recognise the tune to “I’m A Retriever”, his closing song which cracked all the adults up. But, whilst my knowledge about the habits of children is thankfully limited, I know that Campbell managed to keep 70-odd children entertained for an hour. And he kept me entertained, too.