Paul Dabek’s new version of his I Hate Children Children’s show added all the noise and energy of a Rockstar concert to his already successful formula of children-loathing wit and comedic magic. Starting the show with a very funny rollicking western-style Daddy’s on the naughty step with me, the lyrics had parents and kids in fits of laughter.  The following routine involving a showdown between a Dad and kid from the audience left no doubt in our minds that this show was as much aimed at entertaining the parents as well as the kids.

Audience members were not only invited onto the stage to participate in most of the acts, but parents and kids were treated to Paul’s razor-sharp humour and ability to involve, interact and draw us all in with his crazy (perhaps manic) behaviour. At one stage, he pulled a child onto stage, only to tell him he looked like Ed Sheeran and Ron Weasley’s lovechild.  This had me in stitches, while my kids (and perhaps the love child’s real parents) didn’t think it as funny.  But there was lots to like for all in this show.

The backing band was tight and loud, although it was clear that for a couple of them, reading off music meant they weren’t as at ease with the songs like most rock bands would be. The backing dancers were flexible and nimble pulling some interesting moves in the final acts. The only disappointment was not seeing Paul perform any magic of great profundity. Having heard of Paul’s talent as a magician, I was looking forward to some awe-inspiring displays. Instead, we were treated to a magic hat of disappointment and some inventive balloon animals. This didn’t matter to any of the kids there, because this was a show with originality blended with slapstick, rock and pop all with a vibe of children’s TV entertainment about it.

For someone who professes to hate children, Paul Dabek sure has a wonderful knack with them.  He made the kids feel at ease, all the whilst being asked to do the silliest things on stage in front of their parents who were just ever-so-slightly daring to laugh at, and of course, with them.

Four Stars

Fringe Review by Kim Burley

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