Review by: Anne Bokma
With all the mature-themed shows typical of Fringe festival schedules, parents with young kids may be wondering what, if any, options there are for the pint-sized crowd. ROCKgarden Party! is the only show on this year’s lineup promoted exclusively for kids. Suitable for children under 10, it’s a lively interactive show with lots of singing, dancing and an environmental message that isn’t so heavy handed that it leaves you feeling as though you’ve been thumped hard on the head.
Written and starring Charlie Kert, an arts educator and former competitive skateboader who has released three children’s albums, ROCKgarden Party! introduces us to SkaterDude, a cynical cool cat urbanite who gets lost in agarden in a forgotten forest. SkaterDude thinks the forest is boring—where’s the concrete for skateboarding?—and is eager to find his way back to the big city. Then he meets Earth Angel, a sweet and wise creature (played with childlike optimism by Angèle Morgan), who helps him appreciate the garden’s natural beauty. Both of them are hungry and thirsty because of a recent drought and devise various methods—most of which involve singing and dancing—to bring on the rain. They also attempt to dig a well to find water, but instead find objects such as dinosaur bones and a giant rubber mat in the shape of a foot, which presents the opportunity to work in concepts like extinction and carbon footprints. Eventually they enlist the support of the Forest Pixies (the kids in the audience) and the GardenGroms (the adults) to help make the rains come so thegarden can flourish once more. Isn’t it amazing what can happen when everyone works together? They end the play with a high-energy celebratory concert in the garden.
Kert and Morgan have a natural way with children– enthusiastic without being patronizing. The kids I saw in the audience were definitely into it, clapping and bouncing along during the lively bits, and attentive when the message got more serious. The grownups had smiles on their faces too, pleased no doubt that their kids were learning about why they need to care for the earth, while having plenty of fun in the process.