“You’ll all have duties aboard the ship,” a pirate informs a crowd of curious small faces packed into the tent in the Underbelly Circus Hub. He then explains that they are required to clap and scream whenever they see anything they liked. He made them try it out, and then try one more time a bit louder and enthusiasm levels only went downhill from there.

A lack of flow and lulls during dialogue stopped the show from keeping more than half of the children engaged at any one time. Older children seemed especially unimpressed, but toddlers gleefully embraced opportunities to clap aloud to music or yell at silly pirates to alert them to danger. The show gleams with bright colours, physical gags and sound effects that the preverbal kids love, and, if anything, the attempts at a plot or character development only get in the way of the real appeal. Impressive acrobatic feats suffer only from repetition and poor timing: two of a number of mistakes resulting from an overestimation of youth attention spans.

For adults, this collection of quibbling, clapping and cartwheels stretches on and on. The confounding soundtrack choices were particularly grating. A culturally educational homage to Ghostbusters isn’t good enough to make up for an extended rendition of Benny Hill’s music and an even longer version of “The Girl from Ipanema.”

This show has all of the ingredients for a perfect children’s show, just not enough of them or the momentum required to pull it all together.

Words: Emily Hall

Arr We There Yet, Underbelly’s Circus Hub on the Meadows, Aug 17-26 (not 21), 2pm

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