Kids/Reviews/Fringe World Festival/Theatre

For kids only!

10 February 2018

Fringe World review: Josephine by Second Chance Theatre ·
The Blue Room Theatre, 7 February ·
Review by Cass Runyon & Varnya Bromilow ·

Cass Runyon, aged 8.

The play was very, very good which is why I rated it ten out of ten.

It’s about a girl who was lost in the roof of her apartment. She was sad because her aunty had died. The girl went on many adventures to find a lost friend. There were pirates, ghosts and some spookiness. I liked the pilot bit best. In the end everything turned out fine, but there were some scary bits in the middle.  I clapped my hands off at the end.

Scary rating: 8/10

Varnya Bromilow, aged 44.

How can I argue with the impassioned praise above?  Josephine is a piece of theatre aimed squarely at children and unlike much of contemporary children’s theatre, it does not aim to please the adults in the audience.  There are no sly winks to grown-ups, no under-the-table jokes that pass innocently over the heads of juniors.  The work is an earnestly felt, jumbled, flight of fancy.

Josephine’s beloved aunt has died.  Left alone in the apartment, cut off from the world, the young girl escapes into the cozy confines of the air vents in the roof.  From this vantage point, she can listen into a myriad neighbourly conversations…surrounding herself with the comfort of chatter, while recovering from her loss.  In doing this, Josephine discovers William, a young violinist who becomes her friend.  Following an argument William disappears and Josephine is faced with a choice – does she come down from her vented hidey-hole to search for her new friend, or does she stay ensconced in her very small world?

Unfortunately for an adult viewer, this is where the plot becomes a little less compelling as our heroine embarks upon a series of unrelated and random adventures in her quest to find her friend.  We encounter a tyrannical pirate queen; a haunted circus-world (replete with forlorn ghost); and lastly a flight with Amelia Earhart.  The loose linking theme of these escapades is Josephine’s need to conquer her fears.  But the narrative thread is a slender one – whimsical enough to hold the attention of children but not so for anyone over ten.

Josephine is produced by Second Chance Theatre and directed and written by the prolific Scott McArdle, a regular at the Blue Room.  The performers (Rhianna Hall, Tristan McInnes, Jo Morris and Nick Maclaine) are confident and engaging.  Morris, who you may know from her work with Black Swan Theatre, has a remarkable stage presence and a perfect ear for accents.  Perhaps because this is McArdle’s first foray into children’s theatre, he makes the unusual directorial decision to have the actors execute their roles in a manner best described as Playschoolesque.  Wide eyed, slow-talking, overly expressive…it feels like the show is pitched at the 3-7 year-old set, rather than the advertised 9-18.  It’s very difficult to imagine a teenager enjoying what is essentially a play for small children.

It’s churlish to demand that a play for children be as captivating for adults.  We’ve been a little spoilt in recent years by the feast of spectacles that satisfy such disparate age groups.  For an adult, Josephine is a simply told, meandering affair but as evidenced by the eager applause from junior hands the night I went, it hits the spot squarely for young dreamers.

Josephine runs until February 17th.

Photo: Sean Smith

Like what you're reading? Support Seesaw.

Author —
Varnya Bromilow

Varnya Bromilow is a happy dilettante who has worked as a journalist, advocate, oral historian, teacher and train driver. She spent 15 years with the ABC, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation and The West Australian and enjoys writing fiction. She loves guinea pigs and the thrill of a good slide.

Past Articles

  • In childbirth can anyone hear you scream?

    Courageous in its honesty, Earthside is a vital but exhausting journey through the motherly rite of passage, writes Varnya Bromilow.

  • The joy (or not) of comedy

    “While kids are an easy laugh when it comes to scatological matters, they’re also ruthless when it comes to finding people unfunny. There’s no one in a junior audience laughing because they think they’re supposed to laugh.”

Read Next

  • Jesse Chester-Browne and Amy Yarham in a scene from Freeze Frame Opera's 'Hansel and Gretel'. Two actors dressed in khaki and green scout/guides uniforms look at a gumball machine. The glass bowl of the machine is filled with bright glowing strands of light and it is topped with a miniature gingerbread house Classic fairytale gets a modern twist

    Classic fairytale gets a modern twist

    9 May 2022

    Freeze Frame brings opera to a new generation with a light-hearted performance of an old favourite Hansel and Gretel, writes young writer Bethany Stopher

    Reading time • 5 minutesOpera
  • Two men in blue t-shirts and jeans. One is wearing big round glasses and the other has a tall cone hat which is blue with gold stars Potter wizardry casts  chaotic spell

    Potter wizardry casts chaotic spell

    21 April 2022

    Potted Potter is a completely silly attempt to condense the Harry Potter series into a 70-minute show, and junior reviewer Bethany Stopher is totally on board the Hogwarts Express for the hilarious ride.

    Reading time • 4 minutesTheatre
  • A man in a white shirt sits cross-legged on a mostly empty stage holding a telescope. Near him is an orange backpack. The scene is designed to look like space with an array of stars behind him Barking Gecko shines with child-like wonder

    Barking Gecko shines with child-like wonder

    20 April 2022

    Barking Gecko gets the balance just right in its latest production – a delightful daydream that brings out the child in us all, writes Claire Trolio.

    Reading time • 5 minutesTheatre

Leave a comment

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio

Cleaver Street Studio