The scene for Bananaman was set with oversized comic strips papering the auditorium walls and signage directing us to Beano Town, Acacia Road and Bash Street High. Acacia Road is where ‘nothing ever happens every day’ and the school is where a teacher has been kidnapped and replaced by the evil Doctor Gloom, a ringer for Penfold in Danger Mouse, writes Michael Holland.
Acacia Road is a sleepy street where life just goes on the same way every day, but a meteor that is believed to bring super powers with it is destined to land there. Eric Wimp wants to watch the meteor hit earth’s atmosphere, though so do the baddies: Doctor Gloom, General Blight and the Mad Magician, all of whom want the super powers to take over the world. As the meteor crashes into earth Eric eats a banana and magically finds himself transformed into Bananaman, a masked and caped hero who can fly around the world in seven seconds, lift two ton cars and bash baddies with uprooted trees. Alas, he has the brains of a goldfish which means his powers amount to not a lot.
Leon Parris’s Bananaman is a spoof of all those Super Hero stories that have their own formulaic narrative and storylines that you can see coming. It pays homage to the old Batman TV series from the 60s, even incorporating a few ‘Biffs’ and ‘Kerpows’ for good measure. It is good, knockabout fun for all ages with some toe-tapping songs to boot.
As is usual the best roles were given to the baddies and Marc Pickering’s Doctor Gloom steals the show for me, although Jodie Jacobs’ Crow was a solid, sturdy performance, and Matthew McKenna’s laconic, almost Hugh Grantish depiction of the hero was perfect here.
Bananaman the Musical is camp, over the top, funny fun that can be enjoyed by all the family as long as the kids are prepared for an 150 minute piece of theatre.
SouthwarkPlayhouse, 77-85 Newington Causeway, SE1 6BD until January 20th. Time: Mon-Sat 7.30pm Tues, Sat, Sun matinees 3pm. Admission: £25, £20 concs. Phone: 0207 407 0234.