REVIEW: The Misadventures of David & Sam, Al Dente Theatre (VAULT Festival)

This weekend marked our inaugural visit to VAULT festival (minus Mrs Mummy who had declared herself to be “showed out”). After transport troubles courtesy of Storm Ciara, we were glad to take refuge in the arches below Waterloo station and were soon hurling soft balls at the velcro-clad head of a farmer. And that’s before the show had even officially started! This set the tone for the following hour of madcap mischief and mayhem that makes up family comedy The Misadventures of David & Sam.

Liam Cullen (David), Michelle Pittoni (Granny) and George Wing (Sam) somewhere in the Vaults, with no sign of Daisy the Cow.

Al Dente Theatre Company prides itself on creating accessible and affordable comedy for all ages. The Misadventures of David & Sam is billed as neither a children’s show nor a show for adults. The aim is to attract everyone, regardless of age, and to have them laughing their pants off together. And it certainly achieves this aim. Through a mixture of visual comedy and groan-worthy wordplay, this show has big kids and little kids laughing alongside each other as they listen to brothers David (Liam Cullen) and Sam (George Wing) recount a true(ish) tale of time gone by, with a little help from their Granny (Michelle Pittoni).

After some initial squabbling over the script, and a well-aimed welly to wake up a sleeping Granny Barbs, the brothers take us back to where the story begins, on a farm in 1914. With David called up for national service, Sam sees no choice but to stowaway in his rucksack and join him on a journey to war. Obviously Sam has to take best mate Daisy the Cow with him too. But when David discovers Sam and sends him home, Daisy gets lost in the process. What follows is the story of Sam’s quest to reunite with his bovine bestie on the outskirts of No Man’s Land.

It’s delightfully daft and full of surprises that will have the adults of the audience roaring with laughter throughout. With gags on everything from wartime rations to speed cameras, there is something for everyone and it’s all executed incredibly well by the talented trio. It’s hard to pick a stand-out moment, although Liam Cullen’s turn as David’s ill-fated love interest Helga (and her father) is particularly entertaining.

Liam Cullen playing about 3 characters simultaneously.

As with all intergenerational entertainment, some of the humour inevitably goes over the heads of the small humans, particularly the puns and the deliberately dubious magic. There were a few moments where Crotchet questioned why all the grown-ups were laughing. But then there was also one ‘magic trick’ which genuinely impressed her! The visual comedy works well for the children, and there is plenty of (the good kind of) audience participation to keep them engaged. The performers also feed brilliantly off the audience, with George Wing in particular paying careful attention to the kids and including them in the action wherever possible (although adults are not immune from his witty asides). He also manages to make quite a meal out of a Werther’s Original, much to the delight of Quaver, who had to be restrained from picking up the remains of the sticky sweet at the end of the show!

Jam-packed with japes, The Misadventures of David & Sam truly is a comedy feast for the whole family. So grab your Granny and get on down to VAULT festival to see them before the tractor trundles back to the farm.

RATING: Raindrops, Whiskers, Kettles & Mittens (aka 4 out of 5 of my favourite things).

The Misadventures of David & Sam is playing every Sunday at VAULT Festival between 2 and 23 February. We were invited to review the show on 9 February.