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Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore review at the Unicorn Theatre, London – ‘gleeful’

A scene from Jeramee, Hartleby and Oogelmore at the Unicorn Theatre. Photo: Richard Davenport
A scene from Jeramee, Hartleby and Oogelmore at the Unicorn Theatre. Photo: Richard Davenport

Kids today don’t know how lucky they’ve got it. The Unicorn Theatre has created a supergroup by combining the twin forces of Gary Owen (writer) and Tim Crouch (director) for a colourful, gleeful show aimed at three to seven year olds.

Using only their names to communicate, three friends - Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore – spend a day at the beach. Amalia Vitale as Hartleby is bossy, and bouncy as a kitten, while Dorian Simpson’s Jeramee is the sensible one who keeps things under control. But it’s poor Oooglemore who gets the most laughs – and the most sympathy – because of Fionn Gill’s endearingly vacant expression as he loses his ball and his lollipop.

In its universal physical humour, innocent to the core, the show draws on a line of silent(ish) comedy from Mr Bean to the Minions, but adds the kind of self-reflexivity one expects from Crouch. This is a show about how we express ourselves, and how we communicate with other people. When Oooglemore can’t undo his button, he only needs to say Jeramee’s name and together they solve the problem.

It’s also about imagination, skilfully and almost wordlessly guiding the very young audience to turn a stage into a beach and three actors into characters. Just as theatre uses its own restricted language to tell stories, likewise Jeramee, Hartleby and Oooglemore use only three words, but with them they can say everything they need.

Crouch and Owen use the deceptive simplicity of physical humour and three funny words to answer that centuries old question: what’s in a name? For these three characters – and for the young audiences – the answer is that names can contain limitless languages, complex identities and big wide worlds

Verdict
Gleeful and innocent show for young children by theatre dream team Gary Owen and Tim Crouch
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