sat 02/03/2024

String v SPITTA, Soho Theatre review - rival children's entertainers battle it out | reviews, news & interviews

String v SPITTA, Soho Theatre review - rival children's entertainers battle it out

String v SPITTA, Soho Theatre review - rival children's entertainers battle it out

Old school versus the TikTok generation

Kiell Smith-Bynoe (left) and Ed MacArthur as MC SPITTA and Mr StringJames Deacon

Spoofs of children's entertainment is a rich area for comics – whether it's the permanently drunk Jeremy Lion (Justin Edwards), or the permanently disappointed Funz and Gamez (Phil Ellis) – as they create adult fun in a seemingly innocent world. And now Ed MacArthur and Kiell Smith-Bynoe take an interesting new tack with String v SPITTA.

We are at Anastasia's sixth-birthday party in her luxurious home in Kensington in London, where all the oligarchs live. Mr String (MacArthur) and MC SPITTA (Smith-Bynoe) are appearing as a double for the first time, as they had become embroiled in a turf war. For years String – with his silly songs and magic tricks – was the go-to children's entertainer in this lucrative West London patch, but lately SPITTA, hit of London's newly gentrified grittier postcodes, has been a hit with the kids who have found him and his grime raps on TikTok.

What follows is partly a children's party, complete with songs, call-and-response, magic tricks and other silliness, and partly the story of how the two men came to be here. They could not be more different; String – posh, privileged – and SPITTA, who has had a more difficult journey through life. "But we both grew up on estates," String sings brightly on their terrific introductory song, which melds String's tinkly verses with SPITTA's rhymes.

As the story's timeframe shifts back and forth, we see that when it comes protecting their territory, they fight equally dirty. Having argued over who should have this gig they decide to pair up to see how it goes, but when SPITTA suggests they improvise, String is unsure: “The last time someone in my family improvised it triggered a recession.”

They have cleverly updated some references to oligarchs in the light of sanctions against some Russians residing in London, and the audience participation (there's a lot of it) flows naturally in the show. On the night I saw it, though, the performers' improvisational skills were tested to the hilt by an overly refreshed member of the audience, there as part of a large office outing – from, would you believe it, a legal firm – who was labouring under the impression she was part of the show. MacArthur and Smith-Bynoe got through it, but oh my, how the rest of the audience wanted her to be put on the naughty step.

MacArthur and Smith-Bynoe have cleverly updated some of their references to oligarchs


Editor Rating: 
Average: 4 (1 vote)

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