By Flossie Waite
Half Moon presents a Justin Coe production
Half Moon Theatre
Touring in 2016
For ages 4-8
From Tom Thumb to The Borrowers, The Indian in the Cupboard to Honey, I Shrunk the Kids, young people relate to tiny characters, feel (finally) superior to someone smaller than them, and/or are fascinated by the ins and outs of life in the little lane. Big Wow Small Wonder appeals through a combination of all three, as titchy Justin negotiates everyday life, comes under threat from big bullies at school, and searches for the Big Wow in a desperate attempt to grow.
Justin Coe relies on the spoken word and little else; his trust in the audience’s patience for performance poetry pays off. There is one word (another ‘p’ word) that proves particularly popular – whenever the miniature protagonist is described as a ‘peanut’, it causes a ripple of giggles. Verse and minimal props are enough to conjure the risks that come with being so slight, like the time Justin took a dip in the goldfish bowl, or when he got trapped in his sister’s lunchbox, or how bully Bradley Botherboots tried to make him a pet and bring him along to Show & Tell.
There needs to be a smoother transition between these snatched scenes from his Lilliputian life, to the wider narrative – the search for the Big Wow. Though this quest takes up most of the playing time, it feels like a many-threaded diversion from the earlier fun of finding out what it’s like to be little.
The one thing the show does go big on is morals, all along the lines of “if you think big, be big” and “it’s not your size, but what’s inside that matters”. The show’s emotional heart is the relationship between Justin and his ginormous Dad, but this wavers on being a bit heavy-handed. Big Wow Small Wonder is at its best when it’s less sentimental and more silly.
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