After the magic and mayhem of Christmas, I always find it difficult returning to the old routine. There remains a short period of time when I still feel it’s ok to eat Lindt straight after breakfast and I idly pick pine needles out of the carpet, sporting Santa socks.
Towards the end of the holidays, my four-year-old, James, seemed to expect visitors, tasty food and cool new stuff to materialise at all hours of the day and night and, to be fair, I felt the same way.
James and I needed to break free from this strange, twilit world and, when I finally figured out what day of the week it was, I found the perfect opportunity – Funbox were back in town! They were in Toy Town, to be precise, and this beloved children’s musical theatre group would prove the perfect wake-up call to rouse us from our festive slump.
The members of Funbox – Anya, Kevin and Gary – were all previously part of The Singing Kettle and their experience was evident in an assured performance in front of a packed Perth Concert Hall. James and I had attended a Funbox show earlier in the year and knew to expect some catchy tunes, audience participation, and plenty of laughs. We arrived to a venue full of excited kids in fancy dress and we batted away the enormous bouncy balls flying over our heads as the speakers pumped out Christmas songs.
Every small child watching was absorbed. As for the adults ... fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride!We were implored to “Clap your hands, give a cheer, and spend the day in Toy Town” as the Funbox team ran onstage for some Christmassy capers. Anya was all dolled up in a sparkly blue dress with matching oversized bow, Kevin was a wind-up tin soldier, and Gary was a toy robot-helicopter hybrid (and in this madcap Toy Town world, why not!)
Our trio wasted no time launching into some snappy repartee which faintly reminded me of the traditional family badinage you might hear over a Christmas turkey. Like any fond family, their teasing was funny and good-natured.
By this stage, a reindeer antler-bedecked James was on the edge of his seat, clapping along and yelling “He’s behind you!” with all the gusto of a seasoned panto aficionado. A giant jack-in-the-box released the orange key to open the Funbox … and if I’ve lost you here, the kids certainly knew what was going on as they chanted, “You and me, turn the key, open the locks of the Funbox”.
The Funbox unleashed a multi-coloured furry friend called Fluffy who promptly launched into Good King Wenceslas. There’s no question that every small child watching was absorbed. On a couple of occasions, children were picked from the crowd to join in the antics onstage. As for the adults, I find it’s best just to fasten your seatbelt and enjoy the ride!
The stars of Funbox are all consummate performers with their individual talents complementing each other nicely. Anya’s powerful singing voice and stage presence held her young audience captivated – and that’s no mean feat. I struggle to entertain one child, let alone several hundred. Gary is the ‘music man’ who lifts the show with his skill on keyboard, accordion and trombone, as well as providing a steady supply of one-liners.
Kevin is an all-round entertainer, unafraid to ham it up for a good laugh. His turn as the Good Fairy was a lesson in slow-build comic timing which is likely to remain etched on my memory for some time. I found it tricky to identify which lines were scripted and which were off-the-cuff. The fast-paced dialogue and quick wit suggested a fair amount of ad-libbing, and the three of them chuckle at each other’s jokes as if it’s all brand new.
Just like on Christmas day, the time seemed to fly by. Not forgetting a sequin-chafing gag, some Freddie Mercury yodels, and a song any parent can relate to (“Why do you have to be so naughty?”) we started heading towards the grand finale. Really, you couldn’t ask for much more from a Funbox Christmas package. This high-energy extravaganza finished with some ‘hellos and birthdays’ – you can arrange, in advance, for your young charge to be given a shout-out – and then I found myself dancing along to the Christmas Hokey Cokey, once again full of festive good cheer.
If Funbox sounds like your kind of beano, you can take your wild child to their Jungle Party, coming to Perth on Sunday 16th August 2020. Book tickets with Horsecross - early bird tickets are available until Saturday 1st February.
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