Cabaret for kids: would it work? It was with some trepidation I ventured out with my eager four-year-old to see Still Awake Still! at the Adelaide Cabaret Festival. But as soon as Miss Ivory Tinklefinger, Queen of Sleep, entered the stage, the fears subsided.
She is an artist in absolute control over every facial muscle and she knows how to use them to elicit pearling laughter from the children in the audience who she is there to sing to sleep. Along with her two sidekicks, Miss Tinklefinger sings, performs magic tricks and clowns around for the best part of an hour, without the slightest lull.
Her voice is strong and interesting, and the opening-session audience was mesmerised, especially by the way she made things move by waving her hands.
Based on much-loved songs from the bedtime book I’m Still Awake Still! by Elizabeth Honey and Sue Johnson, this reimagining for the stage is wonderfully inventive and very entertaining. When Miss Tinklefinger shines her torch at the audience to check who hasn’t gone to sleep, the kids are in stitches. Yet the performance also manages to have a slightly dangerous undertone through the bear that’s hiding in the grand piano but only ever shows its feet.
When I asked my little boy afterwards, he was utterly convinced that the bear was real and still living in the piano. This is a piano that also spits out table-tennis balls and houses a double bass, so the assumption isn’t quite as strange as it might sound.
Still Awake Still! is a brilliant example of how to engage a young audience and make them want to come back for more. My son had only one negative thing to say. As the light came on he looked at me, slightly bewildered, and said: “Is it finished already?” It was so fabulous, we could have done with a little bit more of Miss Tinklefinger’s antics, but in the scheme of things, this is a minor complaint.
Still Awake Still’s season at the Dunstan Playhouse is now finished. The Adelaide Cabaret Festival continues until June 21.
For more stories and reviews, see InDaily’s 2014 Adelaide Cabaret Festival hub.
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