This article is from 2008.
When Greek comic playwright, Aristophanes wrote The Birds in 414 BC, he could scarcely have imagined where his masterpiece would end up. Although given his taste for humour and bad behaviour, chances are he would have loved Cloudcuckooland, a new musical comedy based on his ancient text.
Aimed at 5–12-year-olds, the show centres on two disillusioned city dwellers who head for the skies in search of a better life, only to find a group of disgruntled birds unhappy with the way humans have destroyed their habitat. A mass pooing ensues, with very messy results.
‘Aristophanes’ writing is a fantastic combination of pantomime, music, song and slapstick comedy,’ says the show’s director, Helen Eastman. ‘But his plays are never done for kids because they’re usually really naughty. So we’ve created the equivalent naughtiness for five-year-olds, and rather than talk about sex we talk about bird poo.’
Performed by a talented cast who play over ten instruments between them, the show is a riotous blend of bird costumes and live music. Audience members are encouraged to dream up their perfect world, sing along with songs and blow up balloons to help create a city in the sky, as well as enjoying such ludicrous sights as a flamingo on stilts playing a trombone.
‘The show works best for 5–12-year-olds,’ says Eastman. ‘The little ones love the bird costumes, the puppets and singing along, while the older ones enjoy the fact that it has a strong plot.’
Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, 2–25 Aug, 12.50pm, £8.50 (£7). Previews 3 & 31 Jul, £5.