“This”, Josie (Dales-Jones) and Greta (Mitchell) tell us, “is a political party disguised as a party party disguised as a show.” To be more specific, it’s a gig-cum-dance performance-cum-gameshow-cum-census-cum-sketch show-cum-Q&A session disguised as a political presentation – the pair try every trick in the book to recruit new members to their Bee Party. Joe (Boylan) the bee, a brilliant physical comedian, is on hand to help tell the party’s origin story – Josie and Greta saw a bee fly into the side of a high-rise and were moved to political action – and dispense some bee knowledge.
In matching fluorescent short suits and sparkly tops (a look I’d love to see adopted in the House of Commons), Josie and Greta may mirror each other in attire and intentionally awkward delivery, but they differ in personality: party leader Josie is abrupt and domineering, while foreign secretary Greta is mild-mannered and earnest. Both forget Joe: the running shtick is that he is a small bee in need of help and easily overlooked, despite being a large bearded man in a wrestling outfit.
It takes a little while to get your bearings at the beginning, as Josie and Greta’s back-and-forth banter obfuscates their explanation of the show’s premise, but with Joe the bee’s arrival comes more clarity and more laughs. The trio move from interactive competition to re-enactment to everything in between, with the different segments threaded together by self-referential asides about the show – a self-awareness that lightens the production’s educational intent.
Beneath the whimsy is a serious message about the plight of bees, and after an hour convincing us to help, we are given a packet of seeds and instructions for growing sunflowers so our environmental activism need not wait. But in employing eccentricity to distract from any didacticism, the show sometimes feels forcefully quirky.
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