views from the gods

saints and sinners of the stage and screen

The Scoober Doobers
Kentish Town Community Centre
28th August 2015


Publicity image for The Scoober Doobers

Photography provided by Bells and Badwind

If you happen to be responsible for any three to eight-year-olds and would like to safely divert their energy somewhere outside your own home, then Emily Bell and Catherine Goodwin's 45-minute show The Scoober Doobers by is a worthwhile investment. Anyone who has ever found crayon on their walls, or the vacuum cleaner broken due to a small toy blockage will understand what I mean by "investment". Sometimes kids just need to let off steam and often it's so much more pleasant when they do this in a room that someone else has to clean up afterwards.

This refreshingly unpresumptuous duo, nicknamed Bells and Badwind, have broken from children's entertainer traditions of magic tricks, clowns and cartoon characters, and instead struck out into new waters with their aquatic themed party. After a slightly stuttery start, they launched straight into exactly the kind of loud, raucous dancing that continued throughout the show. It was a good call to separate the excited children from the adults, with a separate foam-mat floored area and some comfier sofas. Being splashed with water is only hilarious when you're a child.

These Kiwi pro-fish-onals were good at holding their young audience's attention with their loud and wacky costumes and dances, though some of the jokes were a bit too subtle or relied on slightly more grown-up references (perhaps these were intended as jokes for the mums and dads). Generally, all the kids were delighted to be there, and who can't you win over with a bubble machine? Mixed in with all the fun and games were sensible messages about how-to-not-get-sunburn and how-to-be-safe-when-you-go-swimming, as well as on the values of sharing.

The show doesn't advertise itself as educational, but the idea that "facts are fun" gets sold quite nicely, and knowing different types of (cuddly toy) sea creatures was a cool way of rewarding knowledge. It was nice not to hear that there were "rules" - kids could wander around, ignore the performers, use props in unintended ways, all in good fun. To ensure grown-ups were included, we did need to get into Gangnam Style, but as before, this was not mandatory, and could be ignored without any sense of disapproval if you didn't feel like having a go.

The strong mix of games and activities allow for plenty of moving around, development of hand-eye coordination skills, singing, talking and dancing. All in in, a hugely stimulating experience. Bells and Badwind don't put any pressure on any of their audience to perform, allowing the shyer participants to get involved in their own time, and any exhausted parents the chance to just have a bit of a sit, content that their child is safely playing nearby. It's very much a show which gives you at least as much as you're willing to give in return, and in most cases, even more.

When it comes to trying your hand at children's entertainment, often it's a case of sink or swim. Kids after all can be the harshest critics - if they don't like a show, they'll just burst into tears or scream at the top of their surprisingly powerful lungs. Bells and Badwind are however swimming confidently, there was never any risk of them sinking. This surely won't be the last that London sees of The Scoober Doobers.

The Scoober Doobers ran from 25th to 28th August 2015 at Kentish Town Community Centre, as part of the Camden Fringe.

Nearest station: Kentish Town (Northern)

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