It must be incredibly difficult designing a show for children which is simple enough to keep the little ones amused but also contains enough comedy to keep mum and dad chuckling in the audience. Certainly DADO’s “A Frayed Knot” does its best to transcend these boundaries – the one-man show contains plenty of winks, double entendres and mutterings designed to sail directly above the heads of our little darlings, and with plenty of physical theatre and clowning intended to make you – and them – laugh out loud.
Yet despite this, “A Frayed Knot” somehow falls flat. The show seemed somewhat confused – is it circus? Is it mime? Is it musical comedy? Is it all of the above? – and this caused a disjointed feel which was perhaps best summed up by the young audience member behind me, who asked “Mum, is this part of the show?” Many of DADO’s gags are very clever and well executed. Others, however, failed completely, even on second and subsequent attempts, which detracted from other hilarious tricks which were performed outstandingly. Similarly, some went on for so long that short attention spans began to wander, with one young audience member choosing to spend her time picking confetti off the floor and another one (admittedly, mine) beginning an embarrassing push for revolution in favour of ice cream. So it would be inaccurate to say that the young audience was enthralled or mesmerised throughout the show.
Nonetheless, the one-man hunchback show feels warm and intimate, no doubt aided by the tiny size of La Petite Grande, possibly the world’s smallest circus tent. Despite its many failings, watching “A Frayed Knot” feels like watching a favourite uncle performing magic tricks after Christmas lunch. Is it breathtaking or spellbinding? Well, no. But could you find a worse way to spend an afternoon with and a few dollars on the kidlets? Absolutely.
If you are only planning on watching one family-focussed show this Fringe, I wouldn’t recommend this one. But if you are planning on soaking up atmosphere and keeping the little people reasonably entertained for just over half an hour, “A Frayed Knot” could be right up your alley.