Even the most casual watchers of CBeebies children’s TV channel – voluntary or not – can’t fail to have been exposed to the Numberjacks at some point over the last five years.
It is a strange, almost hallucinatory programme in which ten number-shaped super- heroes are sent out from their sofa HQ to save the world from beastly blobs and the dastardly Number Taker.
Now the series, complete with its earworm of a theme tune, has left the safety of its sofa and mutated into a live theatre show, touring to the Festival Theatre.
By rights it should never work. As intriguing as the format might be to its target audience, who absorb its numeracy lessons without even noticing, it just isn’t designed for the stage.
And for much of the first half of this high-spirited production, it seems that it won’t translate.
Greg Fossard plays Jamie –a cleaner who is on stage looking after the set – with Alexis Terry as Astra, his friend who is a waitress.
They are enthusiastic and, importantly, hugely engaging – but there is little of the actual Numberjacks to their pantomime-style playing with the audience.
Sure, the set has got numbers and pictures of the baddies on it and there’s a video screen that displays the Numberjacks’ HQ when Jamie phones up because something has gone wrong.
Entertaining enough to pre-schoolers, but hardly the Numberjacks Live On Stage.
The arrival of Four, big and bulbous as he should be, helps.
And soon they are all doing battle with Spooky Spoon –about whom the really spooky thing is her balaclava-clad operator.
The second half actively takes off when Chanali Meir, as Three, leaves her costume to become a bubbly, dancing number-turned-person. Not to mention a bit more interaction with the huge white Number Taker – well-placed on the scary stakes to not be too frightening to the wee ones.
The Numberjacks’ youngest fans will say this is good.
However, their parents will notice too many little slips, such as numbers not placed in the right sequence and the performers getting out of synch with their backing track, to feel that it has risen above the average.
Run ends today