Bibliophilia is not a vice…
By Myron My
Tansy Bradshaw is a library technician (because of the sexiness of the job) and in this year’s Melbourne International Comedy Festival show Child Safe? (Not Suitable for Children), Tansy looks at some of the messages these so-called children’s books are sending.
Things in the library start off smoothly enough until Paisley (Sean Collins) appears. Paisley is a fictitious character wanting Tansy to write his story but she declines because of the nature of children’s books. Her banter with Paisley is a high point and his mischievousness and excitability is the perfect contrast to Bradshaw’s sarcasm and cynicism. Furthermore, Bradshaw is very much at ease with the audience and for the most part, her delivery is smooth and at a great pace.
Bradshaw soon exposes Noddy’s relationship with donkeys and his secret obsession with guns, and Blinky Bill is not left unscathed when the whole town is revealed responsible for covering up a murder. Through exploring various other fictional favourites, Bradshaw looks at how stories for kids apparently promote body image issues, child labor, BDSM and even bestiality.
Towards the end the comedy seemed to be shifted to a back burner as Bradshaw’s material becomes social commentary about these stories and examines whether it is better to have a naïve childhood or a realistic adulthood. This leads into a discussion with Paisley about experiences of their own childhood and how it’s made them the person they are today.
Despite the seriousness of where we end up, it is still a happy ending all round and with help from Paisley, Bradshaw concedes that perhaps we should not be looking too much into children’s books and just enjoy them for what they are.
Bradshaw has done her homework but I felt like she could have gone a lot further with the stories to make her show that much more “unsuitable for children”. Ultimately Child Safe? is a unique idea that had a lot of potential but the development didn’t pack enough comedy punch.
Venue: The Bull and Bear Tavern, 347 Flinders Lane, Melbourne
Season: Until 1 April | 6:15pm
Tickets: $14.50 Full | $10.50 Concession