Michael loves chocolate cake so much that he sometimes forgets what he’s doing and stares into the middle distance, slobbering at the very idea of sticky, sweet icing atop a crumbly, delicious slice of his Mum’s special recipe. I’m not sure I’ve ever found a character quite so relatable. But irresistible baked goods often lead to trouble – see: Bruce Bogtrotter (every child’s hero) being forced to scoff a whole cake in front of school assembly in Roald Dahl’s Matilda; Mrs Large sneaking a cheeky slab after inflicting a fitness kick on her family in Jill Murphy’s picturebook A Piece of Cake; and victory being stolen from Liam ‘Cake Boy’ Charles, the real winner of last year’s GBBO. Polka Theatre’s latest production is no different: this is the story of two brothers, Michael and Joe, and one missing birthday cake.
Based on the poem Chocolate Cake by children’s author Michael Rosen, with a few of his other poems stirred into the mix for good measure, this adaptation’s tasty treatment of words is just as lip-smackingly scrumptious as the massive, mouth-watering cake. In a nod to the rhythm and rhyme of its source material, the show is a musical, with catchy songs written by Barb Jungr (my personal favourite is the wonderfully-titled “I’m full as an egg”).
Verity Quinn’s flexible, colourful set, complete with a digital screen backdrop most often displaying animated cake (the dream!), effortlessly takes us through Michael’s (Mark Houston) day, from kitchen to classroom, bathroom to bedroom. Performers Aminita Francis and Todd Heppenstall just as effortlessly play the various people he meets along the way: his magical cake-baking mum, the Spanish school inspector, and his scouse mate Harrybo, among others.
The narrative really ignites the audience’s sense of morality; there were plenty of audible gasps and ‘Oh no’s!’ as soon as the young people watching anticipated an injustice was about to occur. You’ll have to head to Polka Theatre before 13th May to see if the culprit gets their just desserts!
You can watch the trailer here:
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