Every now and then, I think it’s important to see a bit of children’s theatre.
Of the last 10 shows I’ve seen, 5 have included a death (a sixth included a murder attempt), 3 have involved rape (or similar unconsensual insertion), 2 have been about the apocalypse, and one of them was Cleansed.
There’s that saying that theatre holds up a mirror to the world and shows us what it’s all about; and if that’s the case then the only conclusion I can draw is that the world is a brutal place and it’s not worth getting up in the morning. Which is true, in some ways, and more and more often I feel weighed down by it.
Children’s theatre doesn’t say that we are fucked. It doesn’t beat you over the head with the horrors of the world, or remind you of the guilt you feel because you aren’t doing enough to correct those horrors. Children’s theatre holds up a mirror to the world, but it’s a mirror distorted with optimism. In children’s theatre, we can be better.
Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore is an antidote that lifted me back up: a much-needed reminder that even in the bleakest of times, there are things to be grateful for.
Three friends go to the beach, and it is just that: 50 exuberant minutes of beach frolics. Like human pokemon, Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore can only use the character names to communicate. Coupled with physical comedy, they play out all of the drama and loveliness of the everyday, clowning their way through swimming, dancing, having a quick wee and arguing. These are characters that are fizzing full of life and who pack the room full of proper love, who are better together and need each other in different ways. With so few words at their disposal, the emotions are more potent and the jubilation feels almost tangible.
This is a show about asking for help, helping and having fun. In a world so cramjam full of awfulness, there needs to be room for silliness and simplicity. No one dies, there isn’t any rape, everyone’s limbs remain in tact. It’s just the beach. Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore has, with just three words, reminded me about all that is good about being a human, and all that there is to hope for. After all, Oooglemore’s ball does come back.
Every now and then, it’s important to see a piece of children’s theatre – especially one as heart-stoppingly lovable as this – because every now and then it’s good to be reminded that if you can laugh a bit and if you are loved then maybe we can be ok.