REVIEW: Sunshine, Stickyback Theatre Company (The Warren, Brighton Fringe)

Our gang at The Family Stage were very pleased to be invited to Brighton Fringe to see the latest offering from Stickyback Theatre Company. Mummy thought it ironic that we were watching a beach themed show called ‘Sunshine’ inside a darkened (and sweltering) shipping container not 10 mins walk from Brighton seafront. But whilst the room may have been dark the atmosphere was quite the opposite and Mummy defies anyone to leave Sunshine without a massive smile on their face.

Sunshine is billed as an ‘interactive clowning spectacle’ which tells the tale of the ‘inexplicable friendship of Mr Sea and Mr Sand’. Mr Sand is a sensible sort who cares about the environment and likes nothing more than to relax alone at the beach. Mr Sea is excitable and carefree, and has a poor grasp of personal space. So when he parks up his deckchair next to Mr Sand, chaos predictably ensues. Will the dry and irritable Mr Sand prevent Mr Sea from wading into his territory? Or will they learn to share?

Sunshine is aimed at under 7s and knows its market well, with much of the humour revolving around such hilarious topics as underwear. It’s highly interactive, keeping the attention of even the smallest audience members throughout. There is plenty of interaction with adults of the audience too, ranging from the suggestive to the downright silly. There is also predictably quite a lot of water involved and Mummy holds Stickyback entirely responsible for Crotchet soaking the neighbours with a hose on Saturday afternoon!

The double act between the Deadpan Mr Sand and the Slapstick Mr Sea works really well. Both performers are hilarious in their own way but also complement each other. They interact superbly with the audience, capitalising on the natural comedic timing of small humans and incorporating them into the madness. Mummy has seen several shows which have been derailed by stage invasions from small people. She has seen ushers stop the show and herd children back to their seats. She has heard puppeteers plead with parents to come and collect their wayward children. She much prefers watching two grown men in stripey bathing suits chasing children around the stage as they dodge a flurry of well-aimed beach balls.

This really is a shining example of clowning as an art form. Much like the tide, you can see most of the gags coming a mile off. Yet somehow can’t stop laughing when they eventually wash over you. One of the most enjoyable elements of this show is listening to the sound of uncontrollable laughter from audience members of both the small and larger varieties. Full of brightness and warmth, Sunshine is a family show that’s not to be missed. So if you missed it in Brighton, catch it when the sun comes back out again at Edinburgh Festival Fringe!

RATING: Raindrops, whiskers, kettles and mittens (aka four out of five of my favourite things).