REVIEW: Aliens Love Underpants (Underbelly Festival) ★★★
“Aliens love underpants of every shape and size; but there are no underpants in space so here’s a big surprise!”
Aliens Love Underpants, the children’s book by Claire Freedman and Ben Cart, has been adapted and directed by Adam Bampton Smith to bring it to the stage for the first time in the Spiegeltent on the South Bank as part of this year’s Underbelly Festival.
The Spiegeltent is more usually known for hosting stand-up comedy and cabaret shows yet works well for children’s theatre with well-placed seating and the stage at a good height so little ones can see the action. The ticket price, starting at £11.50 is more affordable than many children’s shows in the West End and there is plenty of space for storing buggies.
As is usual for shows based on children’s books, the story has been padded out to fill the 50 minute run time. Film clips and lighting effects are used as well as songs and puppets performed by a team of five actors kept busy playing multiple roles. Matthew Chase deserves a mention for playing Timmy, the boy at the centre of the story with high energy and enthusiasm.
There is some audience participation but not as much as in some other shows. There is interaction from the cast at the beginning when they mingle with the audience and speak to some of the children and a nice section where the children are encouraged to return the underpants handed out into the audience which could have lasted longer.
The book was published in 2007 and some of the references are now a little dated; the inclusion of Kylie’s hot pants seems less relevant in 2018.
I heard one child commenting afterwards that it ‘wasn’t like the book’ but this is a fun show that will entertain young children whether they know the book or not.
Reviewed by Rhiannon Evans