Pteronarcophobia. That’s the fear of flies. And it’s what drives this intelligently staged co-production between master storytellers Les Enfants Terribles and family-focused theatre company Pins and Needles.
Dennis is scared of flies. Terrified, in fact. So much so that he’s got to see a therapist about it. That he’s prepared to seal up his home and stay indoors forever. That he’s prepared to board a flight to Antarctica – a magical, no-fly zone.
Under Emma Earle and Hannah Drake’s ceaselessly inventive direction, Oliver Lansley’s play is a fluid examination of Dennis’ phobia, from its origins to its eventual defeat, littered with little skits and sketches, and accompanied by a twee electronica score courtesy of Kid Carpet.
We get a young Dennis horrified by a classmate’s dissection of a live insect. We get Dennis freaking out on a flight to the South Pole. Best of all, we get Piers Hampton as a shape-shifting fly.
In a white tuxedo, Hampton smarms and oozes his way across the stage, taunting Dennis and taunting the audience with his sinister, sleazy vibes – it’s a wonderful, wrong-footing performance throughout, aided and abetted by Harry Humberstone’s multi-roling hype-man. In fact, the whole thing is a little bit brilliant.