Having a whale of a time are, clockwise from left: Shaun Acker, Dylan Esbach, Stefan Erasmus and Jason Potgieter.

GET KRAKEN

DIRECTOR: Kim Kerfoot

CAST: Jason Potgieter, Stefan Erasmus, Dylan Esbach, Shaun Acker

VENUE: The Intimate Theatre, Hiddingh Campus, 37 Orange Street

UNTIL: May 4

RATING: ***

Cape Town - THIS family friendly little work is a great reminder that you do not need to dumb down a play just to get kids into the theatre.

The ensemble piece sees four actors play multiple characters and tell a story above and under the sea, about Jay and his oupa who have a whale of an adventure in search of the mythical kraken.

The set is bare (with only four black boxes for some elevation every now and then) and the actors create their own props, such as boats, a submarine, sea fronds and foam, a whale and, of course, the hinted-at kraken.

Jay takes his first steps on his path to figuring out what he wants to do with his life while his grandfather learns to respect his grandson’s instinct for preserving marine life, so it’s not just children who will take something away from the theatre piece.

The basic plot is very simple, so that’s a score for little ones even if the adults can see where this is going. Still, it’s fast-paced and the saving grace for the big people is that the actors are all very much vested in characterisations.

Actors adopt crazy clichéd accents and give us all the sound effects of a cartoon on speed. Stefan Erasmus and Dylan Esbach are both convincing as young, naive Jay and slightly cynical though very protective grandpa respectively. Jason Potgieter makes a great henchman who is evil though a bit useless and then goes in a totally different direction with his Russian cosmonaut; Shaun Acker’s robot captain is silly and scary at the same time.

Written by Jon Keevy when he took part in the Assitej SA’s Inspiring a Generation programme, the play is imaginative and very much encourages the stretching of the imagination.

Under Kim Kerfoot’s direction this cast bravely goes into a totally different direction to most of what passes for children’s theatre in Cape Town. Instead of sticking to staid, safe fairy tales with bright primary colours and seriously old ways of looking at the world, Get Kraken is a comic-book adventure with references from the now and speech patterns borrowed from TV and film.

This all makes for a fun play which might even work in the foyers of our bigger theatres during school holidays, instead of the hoary old chestnuts that always get trotted out. It couldn’t hurt to try it out.

• Get Kraken makes a welcome addition to the Assitej Family Theatre platform in Grahamstown when it travels to the National Arts Festival, which takes place from June 27-July 7.