International Children’s Festival: Mummpitz from Germany hits Monty Python on the Head!

Reviewed by Alvina Ruprecht

Categories: Professional Theatre

The Terrific Adventures of  Brave Joan Woodsward takes us away on an initiatic trip through the imagination of an intense little girl called Joanna who loves to read about witches and knights and devils and dragons and all the mythology of the Middle Ages.

However it all plays out essentially  as a  comedy with three musicians who fill the space with the nostalgic sounds of guitar, melodica and drums. There is also a  wide eyes actress who becomes the little Joanna. She is  fed up with school and wants to escape into her imaginary world of books.

It is all set off by a punishment. Joanna broke a window, she owes the school a lot of money and when the principal sends her home with a letter that her father must sign and she is terrified. She will be grounded for 12 years!  Joanna is devastated. and   from that monent on, her imagination takes over and whisks her away to escape her punishment. She head for the world of   Joanna the Brave, a girl  who will liberate France and put the Dauphin, Charles VII  on the throne. Fascinated by the period of heroes and faire maidens, she  obviously  focusses on the Maid of Orleans and so she is off, with a helmet  on her head,  a wooden sword and  a bicycle in lieu of  a handsome steed. She  goes plunging down the street, tossing clothes asside, seeking an audience with the Dauphin and the whole  context of Joan of Arc’s world  is recreated  by the thee musicians who take on various roles, play jokes, create  the funniest characters imaginable and turn the adventure  into a most playful German focussed version of Monty Python’s physcial comedy with a lot of  antics  associated with the  ever so popular Flying Circus brigade. .  There is no doubt that the long,  lanky legged  John Cleese, has given a  lot of impetus to the actor who played the Dauphin…because he moves just like his English counterpart!

At times they were a bit difficult to understand because their voices faded away. They might  try to speak up. Also before the Battle of Orleans something happened to the energy level of the performance  and it dropped enormously. That was when the teenagers around me started whispering and fidgeting and no longer  paying attention, but the Battle brought them back.

There is no question that it is a bright and original conception of history that would make for an excellent history lesson.

For children  8years old and over.


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