Review – Cloudcuckooland, Riverside Studios

Monday 25 February 2008

“Please don’t write about it.”

Why not, Stephen? It was fun. It’s not every day that a Whinger goes to see a piece of children’s theatre.

Nor is it every day that a Whingers gets to contribute to the performance by blowing up a balloon (although it’s an excellent idea for next time an evening is dragging – and a timely one too as the Whingers are off to see Major Barbara at the National on Tuesday).

Anyway, this was Stephen Sharkey‘s (with music by Alex Silverman) Cloudcuckooland at the Riverside Studies, Hammersmith at Sunday lunchtime.

The piece is inspired by Aristophanes’ The Birds and is apparently a commission of the Onassis Programme for the Performance of Greek Drama at Oxford University which “commissions, develop and produces professional work by international theatre artists inspired by Greek drama.” which was made possible by “a generous donation by the Onassis Public Benefit Foundation”

Andrew was instantly hooked – once he realised there was a vague connection with former US first lady Mrs Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis he was on the phone for tickets before you could say “Grey Gardens”.

Cloudcuckooland tells the story of how the birds (with some human help) conspire to halt humakind’s ongoing destruction of the environment and is told with costumes and masks and props and songs and jokes and balloons – a jamboree bag of stuff which kept Andrew awake and paying attention for the entire hour – a rare occurrence indeed. Great to have a harp in the band, too.

There should definitely be more harps on the stage.

Only one thing rankled Andrew: the fact that, although many people on the front row were offered balloons to inflate, Andrew was the only one given a balloon pump. Phil is not surprised as he thinks it completely understandable that anyone looking at Andrew would imagine him incapable of blowing up a balloon without assistance.

Whither Phil during all this? Well, Phil had a boozy lunch to go to, followed by drinks, followed by a boozy dinner. That man sure has stamina. Andrew had one glass of red wine after the show and spent the rest of the afternoon dozing off in front of an episode of Poirot.

But you’ll be pleased to hear he is much recovered today and has already been to the party shop to pick up balloons and a helium canister in preparation for Major Barbara on Tuesday. Why didn’t we think of it before?

3 Responses to “Review – Cloudcuckooland, Riverside Studios”

  1. stephen Says:

    Cheers Andrew – thanks to you and Neil for being such
    eggselent sports. I wish I could claim the balloons were my idea but that and nearly all the other funny stuff was down to Helen the director. I was mainly responsible for the dire predictions on global warming, and the bird-poo obsession (some childhood trauma working itself out no doubt).

  2. Kathleen Says:

    This looks like a very interesting piece! Unique. Was it a musical? Because then that would make things even more interesting!!!

  3. Oh, yes, Kathleen. Plenty of music. Even an accordion. But most impressively: a harp! Sadly under-represented in the theatre these days.

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