The dank confines of The Three Sisters isn’t exactly the dream venue for a kids’ show, particularly one marketed as being suitable for age zero and up, but Njambi McGrath works hard to conjure a cheery atmosphere in this whirlwind tour of the performer’s home continent.
It’s all pretty ramshackle—McGrath waves around pictures of her favourite tribes, animals and lakes printed on sheets of paper, and plays us songs from a phone plugged into the PA—but charming nonetheless. The Kenyan comic is doing 50 minutes of standup for adults elsewhere this Fringe, and a handful of gags—some silly, some gently satirical—can be found scattered through her stories about the dance moves of the Himba people, Rastafarianism, and Nigerian superstar musician Fela Kuti, providing parents in the crowd with the opportunity for a few gentle chuckles here and there.
The show contains plenty of interesting nuggets, but it’s McGrath’s openness and genuine enthusiasm for her topic that make Africa Weird and Wonderful such a pleasure. We’re up on our feet and dancing—the cramped seating and unfortunate layout of the room notwithstanding—on several occasions, and a moment of audience participation involving an ugly face contest ends up being far funnier than you might expect. That said, there isn’t much here for the under-5s really, so think again if you’re wondering about bringing smallies.
It’s a shame there’s no live music, and that the show ends with a whimper rather than a bang, but this is good family fun from an extremely likeable act.