Thursday, 12 June 2014

INTO THE WILD: Monkey Bizniz is a pleasantly diverting and rhythmic treat

IN THE SWING: Primates take the spotlight in an action-packed children's musical:

"Monkeys are the brightest and smartest of all creatures," declares troop leader Baboon (a terrific Dorraine Reid) early on in the new kiddie adventure musical Monkey Nizniz, the fourth instalment in the award-winning Anancy Chaptaz franchise, brought to rousing life by a hyperenergetic cast of youngsters who lend spark and exuberance to the Damion Radcliffe-Sabrena McDonald-scripted lyrics and language.

While the jury is still out on monkeys possessing weighty intelligent quotients, the creatures depicted here are nothing if not wild-at-heart mischief-makers as playful and precocious (in the case of the young'ns) as they are rowdy and rebellious. This is particularly true of militant ringleader Patch, who sparks an uprising on the grounds that it's time to do away with the old. According to him, it's time for monkeys to become men.

All the action unfolds in Storyland Jungle and takes fascinating turns, whether it's the appearance of a bespectacled primatologist and bumbling assistant on a primate-research mission; the ruthless soldiers who have other plans or the master ginnal Anancy (Amani Cooke) who earns the ire of the primates after making off with their precious 'luution', but ends up coming to their aid with a dose of movie magic as only he could cook up. And it's all intriguingly observed by the appealing young griot Tella (an engaging as narrator Christina Emmanuel).

As the saying goes, monkey see, monkey do, so it comes as no surprise that the show is full of dynamic energy and ribtickling antics (though you sense a lull in the second half) that lends the musical numbers, most notably "We're Trapped", stirring appeal.

Not that he's outshone by his primate co-stars, but Anancy (portrayed by a young lady, I might add) finds himself forced to share the spotlight for a change something he's clearly not used to, and not that its makes the sting of his craftiness any less potent. Tyrone's Verdict: B+ 

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