One can’t help but like Joshua Seigal. He is so full of bounce and yet completely unflappable, both key qualities when working as a children’s entertainer. By the end of the show, two children are lying flat on their backs in the aisle. Seigal did not let this unorthodox seating arrangement faze him, but merely remarked on how he wished it was socially acceptable for him to do the same. It is hard not to warm to someone with such an inner child in them.
Throughout this hour long performance of his poems, Seigal encouraged the audience to get involved, to make some noise. He has a variety of original and interesting ways to surprise and play with his audience, subverting their expectations, such as when he told them to give themselves “a great big…tap on the teeth”. At the start of the show, he distributed props throughout the crowd – an excellent way of keeping children involved during the waiting process – and took names which he later incorporates into one poem. Even the littlest children later look up when he says their name as part of his verse.
For Seigal, showmanship appears to be less about putting on the same performance day after day and more about really getting to know his audience and adapt to their needs. He not only attempted to remember the names of every child in the sizeable crowd but also recognised one boy who came to see him the year before. This is a man who really cares, we sense.
Perhaps there is a flaw in this air of spontaneity though. It lends itself too easily to rambling, particularly as Seigal had no coherent plot to hold the whole show together. As a result, there were moments between the poems when he lost the attention of some of the younger children who may find an hour a long time to listen to poetry for, no matter how wacky and witty it is. Yet he soon managed to regain their attention through one clever technique or another. A show worth going to see, if only so you can use the invented word ‘yab’ in a conversation.