Credit to Howard Read for summoning so much energy for this afternoon, subterranean gig decimated by hot weather and the prospect of Andy Murray clinching his first Wimbledon title.
Little Howard and The Magic Pencil of Life and Death - The Stand, Glasgow
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Probably the UK’s foremost comedian-animator, Read’s reputation rests with a series of shows for adults, and later children, featuring his six-year-old cartoon sidekick Little Howard, which culminated in the CBBC show, Little Howard’s Big Question.
This live kids’ show features all the usual spirited banter between the pair, with Little Howard projected on to a screen, though amusingly resentful at being displaced in Big Howard’s affections by his real-life son.
Huffily accusing his creator of a kind of infidelity, the jokes are neatly delivered on different levels for children and parents. The show’s plot, in which Little Howard dreams Pinocchio-like of becoming a real boy too and escaping his screen, all the while risking obliteration from Cartoon Death, is inspired by Read’s adoption of 3D technology.
The audience is handed the requisite glasses but these sequences are never as slick as the two Howards’ previous interaction and the closing 15 minutes drag slightly. That’s not to say that Read shouldn’t explore such technological developments, as several of his gimmicks, including a routine in which kids are encouraged to throw a ball at Little Howard are riotous fun.
However, old-fashioned call and response games prove just as popular and this feels like an intermediate hour where he’s still trying to marry the cutting-edge and the traditional.