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Poet Simon Mole and musician Gecko have joined forces to write and perform Mole & Gecko: The Show, a new show for children and families which comes to Half Moon on Saturday 16 February.
Ahead of the show, we spoke to Simon to find out more about the interactive rap musical – rather aptly about a mole and a gecko – that the audience help create.
Tell us about this new show and your own involvement and role in it?
It’s called Mole & Gecko: The Show. It’s an interactive rap musical for children and families about a Mole and a Gecko who make a show (as well as being about a mole and a gecko who go on an adventure quest in a nameless boat with a downcast duck). I wrote it in collaboration with singer songwriter extraordinaire Gecko, and we perform the piece together too. At one point, I get to do a double time rap as a gangster weasel who sells bourbon biscuits, which is definitely a long-term life goal ticked off.
The level of audience interaction in this show means it’s the first time I’ve come close to achieving on stage the same buzz that sometimes builds in a poetry writing workshop with young people. It’s the moment in that shared creative process when they realise they are already poets and can say whatever ridiculous genius thought pops into their heads, and it will be heard, valued and quite possibly sung or rapped or shouted as part of an actual proper thing.
How has the devising process worked for this show?
To begin with we weren’t sure if we were writing songs for an album or a show, so the whole thing has evolved very organically. What we have now is a show and also an album with our favourite songs from it – win win! Writing with Gecko has been so much fun. It has really reminded me how much I love making music with other people. I used to be the rapper in a ten-piece live band, so it’s been a case of dusting off the cobwebs and getting in the booth to record again!
The audience plays such a creatively important role in the show every time we perform it, some of the most important (and fun) parts of our process have involved collaborating with groups of young people.
Do you have a favourite scene or line in the show?
I very much enjoy playing the evil weasel with a biscuit problem, especially since I’ve been wearing the costume that the brilliant Amanda Mascarenhas made for us.
I absolutely love rapping some of the lines in the songs. Off the top of my head, a favourite is when I’m trying to encourage Gecko to find a big cow poo and poke it with a stick.
What would you say is the main take-home message of the show?
One major take-home message of the show comes in how interactive it is; we want children (and grown-ups) to go home knowing that poetry can be fun – it’s not just something you do because you have to at school, it’s around us every day in songs, books, comics, and the funny anecdotes we tell each other. Hopefully people will realise we all have a poet inside us, and that bringing that side of us out to play is good fun!
The show features plenty of audience interaction. Does that make the show tricky to rehearse without them? Without revealing any spoilers, what kind of thing are you hoping they will join in with?
If you come to the show, to begin with you might only be contributing the odd word or two when Gecko and I need a bit of help, but before long you’ll be creating entire songs and deciding what our characters should do at the key moments which determine the final outcome of the show.
The show features a weasel with a serious biscuit problem! What’s your favourite biscuit?
Number one: Bourbon. Number two: Bourbon. Number three: Bourbon.