REVIEW (From a distance): Oh No, George! (Can’t Sit Still, Half Moon Live)

One problem with living in (pre-lockdown) London is we are rather spoiled for choice when it comes to theatre. With so many family productions visiting the capital, often for just a handful of performances, we inevitably end up missing some of them. So one good thing about lockdown is being able to catch up on the ones that got away. Can’t Sit Still theatre company were in the middle of their tour of Oh No George! when lockdown started. They decided to continue the tour virtually, and are making it available to all the cancelled venues. We didn’t manage to make it to their sold-out performances at Half Moon Theatre back in March, so we rectified that this weekend via Half Moon Live.

Oh No George! is the playful tale of a dog who wants to be a good boy but just can’t resist temptation. Adapted from the award-winning Chris Haughton picture book, it’s a delightful show filled with music, clowning and acrobatics. Perfect for ages 3-8 but fun for all the family.

Oh No, George! teaser promo

Rosy Roberts is a fantastic George, clearly conveying the mannerisms of an excitable dog while remaining on two legs for most of the show. (A shout-out here must also go to animal movement consultant Craig Edwards.) Dog lovers will undoubtedly recognise the scenes in which George plays fetch (with an increasingly large ball!) before trying to stop owner, Harris (David Insua-Cao) leaving the house without him. When he does finally head out, Harris issues George with three important rules: 1.Don’t eat the cake; 2. don’t dig up the flowers; and 3. don’t chase the cat. You don’t have to have read the book to know what happens next…..

With each new temptation comes another hilarious piece of physical comedy from Roberts, with the multi-talented Insua-Cao providing a suitably frentic accompaniment to the chaos from the drum-kit (when he’s not popping back on stage to puppeteer the cat). Particular highlights include George getting stuck in a chair and his demolition of the cake, followed by his hopeless attempts to make amends for his loss of control. It’s also great to hear the excited squeals of the young audience members and listen to (all but one of) them snitching on George when Harris returns. The munchkins were laughing along at home, although they did get into an argument over whether the blame for the ultimate carnage lies with George or the cat!

After some canine grovelling (and tidy-up time), Harris and George head out for walkies, which is an opportunity for the pair to show off some more partner-based dance and circus skills. There’s also tons of audience interaction here, which is a little bittersweet when watching from the sofa, but it’s hard not to smile as George runs riot through the audience (thankfully managing to control his urge to go to the toilet until he is safely back on stage!) It looks like Harris finally has George back under control but then George spies a rubbish bin. What will George do?…… Oh, no George!

It’s a fantastic adaptation which vividly brings the book to life and elevates it into something even more engaging. Inevitably watching from behind a screen is not quite the same as being in the audience, but it’s such an entertaining and energetic show that it easily kept the munchkins’ attention for the full 45 minutes. And Mummy loved it too!

Oh No, George is doing a virtual tour of the venues it was booked in to visit. It is playing via Half Moon Live until Wednesday 13 May. Check here for full tour dates. You can also find more information about the show on the Can’t Sit Still website, including some really useful accessibility guides.