Company: YAP Theatre, Cape Town, South Africa
Genre: Kids Fringe
Venue: Kids Venue
One of the joys of kids’ theatre is the unpredictability, which de Waal seems to embrace.
South African storyteller Erik de Waal is a fixture at the Kids Fringe, and for good reason. His style of simple, low-tech storytelling - he performs alone and barefoot on stage, with only a few colourful puppets - manages to (mostly) captivate a room full of hyperactive kids.
This is important, because de Waal's folktales require an eager-to-participate audience. In his first story, a mango falls on a monkey's head, unleashing a chain reaction in the animal kingdom.
De Waal tells the story in an intentionally convoluted way, and expects the kids to remember each step and shout it back to him. By the end, he might have been testing the patience of his young audience (one boy actually asked de Waal, "Why aren't you learning it?").
That said, one of the joys of kids' theatre is the unpredictability, which de Waal seems to embrace. He kept cracking up over one enthusiastic little girl, who added so much sassy commentary she should have been given an official co-starring role.
One word of caution: his second story involved a kid-eating monster, which seemed to scare some of the younger kids in the audience.