Mrs McMoon’s Tea Party

Review by Flossie Waite
Presented by Katie Cooper and Worboys Production
Polka Theatre
For ages 3-8
Touring nationally until 6th June 

Chat show hosts often ask their guests to describe themselves in three words;  I’m pretty sure what Mrs McMoon’s answer would be: “forgetful, silly, and forgetful”. Exceptionally warm but exceedingly scatterbrained, Mrs McMoon brings a whole new meaning to absent-minded, and her complete lack of memory forms the basis of this show.

Nietzsche once wrote that the “advantage of a bad memory is that one enjoys several times the same good things for the first time.” Clearly, this applies to Mrs McMoon, who has endless enthusiasm for the same routines. But luckily, if you replace ‘bad memory’, with ‘young children’, the phrase still rings true – repetition actually seems to make things funnier for early years audiences. Three times Mrs McMoon makes her scrumulumptious biscuits for afternoon tea, and three times she has to go to the pantry to fetch some forgotten item; three times her guests arrive and three times they ignore her words of warning.

Any hint of monotony is forgotten about, as the ever-charismatic Katie Cooper plays each larger-than-life character. She occupies a surreal world – there’s a brilliant moment at the beginning, in which Mrs McMoon struggles to find a ringing telephone without her glasses (she’s forgotten where she put them). Grabbing blindly at everything (a pepper shaker, a bowl), and putting it to her ear, when she does find and answer the phone, the ringing continues. It’s not until she picks up a banana, that a squeaking voice can be heard on the other end of the line… though this grows quieter and quieter as Mrs McMoon gradually eats it.

Occasionally Mrs McMoon veers into pantomime dame territory – sitting on a Dad’s lap, vigorous winking, and the odd ‘call me’ hand gesture, along with jokes about grown-ups having big bums and never washing. There’s nothing new or unexpected here, but everything is done very well. It’s very silly and very messy, with a particularly sweet ending.

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