Everyone’s got the jitters in JitterBugs

"JitterBugs" is entertainment for both children and adults. Photo: Sam Spiller.

Ninjas, aliens, pirates, monsters made of confectionery, and wish-granting cereal all form part of a kaleidoscopic cast of characters to be found in the Family Fare show JitterBugs.

JitterBugs is the creation of the folks behind Jittery Citizens, a comedy ensemble group from upcountry whom you can also catch this Festival. Directed by Claudine Ullman, JitterBugs is a unique addition to the programme, being a collection of comedic improvisational stories written by none other than the target audience themselves: children.

The show is a dive into the imaginations of the youth, exploring the limitless possibilities of what could be visualized. Add a pianist for the musical accompaniment, and the chance for the kids in the audience to direct their own scene, and you’ve got a pretty well-rounded show.

Now, adults reading this are probably thinking that a suspension of disbelief is needed for this kind of performance. I would actually challenge you to watch on two fronts. The first being to engage the show as a dive into some surrealism (because frankly, it’s just better to embrace the madness happening on stage). The second is that both the dialogue and the physicality of the show does contain some genuine comedy for us elders. It’s a common belief that all comedy is derived from some sort of misery or suffering, and while that may be true, it does not mean that cynicism is the only source of laughter.

In a time when children as young as three are given access to an iPhone, and when a child’s thought processes are being governed by popular culture and social media, Jitterbugs is a nice reminder that not all is lost. Kids can still make up fantastical stories by themselves, and go on the most magical of adventures.

JitterBugs will be on again on 4 July at 1pm at the NELM theatre, and 6 July at 10am at the Nompumelelo Enrichment Centre in Joza.

By Samuel Spiller