This quite breathtakingly subversive children's show is not for the faint of heart
A quick scan through summaries of shows for young kids throws up a lot of puppets, a lot of moral fairy tales, a lot of anthromorphic animals with preternatural talents for recycling. ‘Double Double Act’ is so unfathomably, hilariously different that it’s almost hard to imagine how it was allowed to happen. Think ‘Eurotrash’, but for kids.
It’s a collaboration between two grown-up experimental stars: Jess Latowicki (one half of Made in China) and Chris Brett Bailey (best known for ‘This Is How We Die’, a gleefully twisted beat poem about a road trip). I wasn’t sure how all this dark energy would translate to a kids’ show. As it turns out, it works brilliantly. They very reluctantly cut out the swearwords, but leave in the madness, culminating [spoiler alert] in Brett Bailey vomiting green slime onto a small child’s head.
The basic premise is that Latowicki and Brett Bailey are campy telly-style entertainers, unleashing a very self-aware collection of puns, wordplay, and routines onto a rapturous kiddy audience. But their show is gatecrashed by two kiddy doppelgangers, who heckle the audience (guessing one unfortunate woman’s age as 87) and deliver messed up versions of their pit-pat patter.
Oh and there’s also some gross potion making, a giant cardboard fist, a lot of running around and shedloads of weird visual gags. So, yeah. This is a show that elevates the what-the-hell-am-I-looking-at? moment to an artform. But at its heart there’s a slightly more serious message about the gap between what kids want, and what adults need. And about the cruelty that comes with good old-fashioned violent hilarity. This seriousness bubbles up sometimes, eventually flooring its two adult stars like tired parents at a year three sleepover. But with this much fun to be had, they’re back up on their feet in no time – and ready to party.