Brighton Fringe 2011
Street performer, trickster, jester and prince of fools, Tim Bat, delighted the Old Courtroom audience with juggling, balancing, ropework, yoyos, and much much more.
With twelve children and three adults (including a granny) in tow, I wondered if the promise of "A funny exciting show for children of all ages" would be fully kept. Well, I’m glad to say that the children of all ages (including the granny) were delighted.
Tim Bat Trick ranges the repertoire with ease, without a breath, with easy banter, just enough winks in the material to the adults in the audience to keep them linked in, and almost an overload of diverse circus skills, clowning and a real Vaudeville feel to light up the Old Courtroom for just over an hour..
Actually it was a nice surprise to see the sombre feel of the Old Courtoom transformed and warmed up so well. (It was also done with Kemble’s Riot and Trial by Jury during the Fringe). Lighting here was bright and warm and Tim Bat Trick took to the stage in a space that focused the attention well. Music enhanced rather than distracted from the show, and Tim’s banter with his technician worked well comedically.
But what worked well most of all was the breadth of physical material, the panorama of skill, comedy, the flow of the piece. When Tim finally sat back to enjoy a well earned balloon we were in comedy gold territory. He suddenly plunged us all from out-of-breath trick upon trick upon stunt, into stillness and the ecstasy of puffing upon a balloon. Very clever theatre!
In many children’s shows, the performer is a two or three trick player, and often stretches out the one or two routines beyond their energy value. In this show, Tim Bat covers such a wide range that we not only feel we’ve got more than value for money, but we are genuinely impressed at how many different things he can do. And we do really believe he loves playing with all these "toys". Diversity here becomes a virtue as well as a spectacle in its own right. The Japanese spinning tops were nicely different (he trained at the feet of a Japanese master), and there was a fluidity and ease to it all that lifted the show into something special.
Sometimes the adult jokes were a bit overdone and references to "health and safety" could be toned down.
In some ways it is all rather traditional. References to television shows were thankfully thinner on the ground than in many children’s shows these days, and the courage to be traditional but pull it off by keeping the attention trained on him fully through diversity and pace, is an outstanding feature. And it is never not highly engaging. Also, Tim gives himself permission to fail a bit – not all of the tricks were perfectly executed but this just created a bridge between audience and the vulnerable humanity of the performer. Sometimes an obsession with technical perfection can over-strengthen the fourth wall and create an unnecessary aloofness and coldness. Tim’s a performer, but also a likeable person.
Overall, all of the children we brought (for a birthday party) loved the show, the audience participation, the many, many tricks and stunts, the comedy, the banter, the music oh, and the flying eggs. Probably one of the best children’s shows on the Fringe for under tens. Go see Tim, wherever he is, and, judging by his web site, he gets around a bit!