It's axiomatic, isn't it? You put a bunch of adult actors in funny animal costumes, throw in some bouncy tunes, and what have you got? Why, children's theater, of course!
Don't get me wrong. I love the genre. But there's children's theater that talks down to kids, done by amateurs, and there's children's theater that is so good, so expert and so damned funny that adults in the audience are just as respected, just as enthralled and just as entertained as their kids. That's the kind of kids' theater that directors Christopher Leavy and Laurel Clark have fashioned from Ned Wilkinson's book, music and lyrics in the fantastically sly and amusing Fosgate, Ferret Loan Officer. This is a terrific show – the songs are tuneful, the lyrics witty, the acting precise and the comedy sharp and intelligent.
Now, I'm not suggesting that Wilkinson and crew actually set out to do children's theater, per se. In fact, the story line in Fosgate has a decidedly adult theme – one spoofing the financial shenanigans that have devolved from late-stage capitalism's seamier side. But it's hard to see Jason Wood's devious ferret, Matt Horohoe's friendly pig or Holland Hayes' forlorn horse as anything but bright stars in a children's theater presentation. And that may be the reason that for the show's entire 60-minute length, I could not wipe the goofy grin off my face. I was as delighted as if I were a child again, seeing theater through eyes that lost their innocence years ago.
There are dozens of wonderful shows at this year's Fringe Festival, and of course, I've not seen them all. But for sheer theatricality and professionalism, I heartily recommend Fosgate. It demonstrates why theater is such a universal pleasure – for children of all ages.
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