Justin’s Band

April 1, 2018 | By | Reply More

★★★☆☆    Tumbled

Edinburgh Playhouse: Sun 1 April 2018
Review by Natalie Walker

Love him or loathe him there is no mistaking Justin Fletcher. As one of the BBC’s top children’s TV presenters Fletcher – aka Mr Tumble – is one of the most recognisable faces in the land.

As such, you could sense the thrill in the Playhouse on Easter Sunday morning waiting for his live tour, Justin’s Band. Kids merrily munched their chocolate eggs and talked about Justin or Mr Tumble as if he was a family friend. The excitement was real and sweet to see.

First on are the backing dancers, all very theatre school with cheesy grins and over emphasised dance moves. But there is not long to wait for the star attraction…. and when he appears in loose jeans, funky waistcoat and flashing trainers the kids go wild, chanting his name and giggling.

The show begins with Justin looking to create his own band. He meets several friends who conveniently all play a different instrument. First there is Miles and his accordion followed by a drummer, pianist, guitarists and saxophone players. Each gives a wee performance as Justin introduces their different instruments.



To keep the youngest ones entertained – average audience age is probably around three – there are bonus comedy capers.

In an obvious nod to his alter ego, Tumble, Justin dons a spotty jacket and daft chef’s hat then proceeds to try and splash his pals with custard pies – inevitably landing up with them on his face instead. It’s a bit on the long side, but the kids love it.

Then comes a quiet and calming version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star when a giant glitter ball created thousands of lights around the room – which many of the young ones clamber about to catch.

nursery rhymes

The second half is singing and dancing from Justin’s newly formed band. What really works are the nursery rhymes. But what misses the mark are less known, pretty forgettable, adult-orientated rock’n’roll songs, during which the kids visibly lose interest. The band and dancers are average but all are able to play the kid’s show game by pulling silly faces and doing the odd leg kick or air guitar move.

The show is like Justin’s House in format with the eponymous leader seeking audience participation and reaction – and giggles. The set is more basic than the TV show’s with a sign and a few flashing lights, but that is all that’s needed as there is always action from his colourfully dressed dancers on stage.

There are touches of Something Special, as he signs some of the show and brings the curtain down with the show’s famous end song Goodbye goodbye.

Although many kids had turned up expecting Mr Tumble the show was clearly a hit with them. There is plenty of audience participation when it comes to singing the known songs and when Justin asks specific questions about what has just happened.

banter

But there is a sense that Justin’s heart really in’t in it. None of his banter is particularly warm or fun or original. It’s all scripted to an inch of its life, which makes it all a bit dull and lifeless at times. And one of the most annoying sights is Justin hitching down his waistcoat every few minutes or so, clearly his nervous habit.

Most parents will have got the sense the main man is far more at ease in front of the camera in scripted work. He does not come across as a natural live performer and does not appear to be particularly himself. But this is an adult talking – what really matters is what the kids thought. And they clearely loved seeing their hero up close and personal.

For about 30 seconds during a song in the second half Justin comes down and mingles with the front of the audience – one young one just mouthed the word: “Wow!”. That really says it all.

Running time: One hour, 50 minutes (including one interval)
Edinburgh Playhouse, 18 – 22 Greenside Place, EH1 3AA. Phone booking: 0844 871 3014
Sunday 1 April only. Run ended.

Justin’s Band website: http://justinsband.com.
Facebook page: @justinsband

Justin’s Band on tour 2018:
Sunday 1st April Edinburgh
Playhouse
0844 871 3014 Book online
Tuesday 3 April Oxford
The New Theatre
0844 871 3020 Book online
Wednesday 4 April Torquay
The Princess Theatre
0844 871 3023 Book online
Friday 6 April Salford
The Lowry Theatre
0843 208 6000 Book online
Sunday 8 April Sunderland
The Sunderland Empire
0844 871 3022 Book online
Tuesday 10 April Birmingham
Town Hall
0121 780 3333 Book online
Wednesday 11 April Portsmouth
Guildhall
0844 847 2362 Book online
Friday 13 April Plymouth
Theatre Royal
01752 267222 Book online
Saturday 14 April York
Grand Opera House
0844 871 3024 Book online
Sunday 15 April London
Theatre Royal Drury Lane
020 7087 7760 Book online

ENDS

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