This breezily silly new show for ages five-plus is at heart a fairly standard plea to youngsters to be themselves etc that follows Alex Stedman’s well-behaved homebody Pirate and Teegan Hurley’s adventure-craving Princess as – long story short – they swap places and discover that it’s okay to be a little of everything.
What hugely lifts writer-directors Daniel Clarkson and Richard Hurst’s show is the largely inexplicable presence of Platypus. Played by Australian Josephine Starte, it’s a wise-cracking monotreme who none of the other characters either a) understand or b) know what it is. Tagging along on the Pirate’s adventure, her presence brings a sort of offbeat weird quality to proceedings. From a recurring sight gag about her being attacked by an octopus to the other characters' constant suggestions as to what she might be (‘hairy duck’ and ‘fluff puffin’ were two of my favourites), she adds a delicious random quality to proceedings.
I don’t think she’s quite enough to make the play a classic: the show essentially feels not dissimilar in tone to a family pantomime with a comedian in the cast, and the mix of wholesome ‘be yourself’ messaging and the sharper, stranger platypus-derived gags doesn’t always feel particularly coherent. There is some fun business with the Princess and the Pirate’s batshit parents (the Princess’s is literally a frog), but the show as a whole leans heavily on the Platypus to keep things ticking over. Still, it’s fun and funny, and certainly if you’re looking for an hour of platypus-related gags for kids then it is pretty much in a league of its own.