Duncan Ball (text), Craig Smith (illus), This School is Driving Me Nuts! and other funny plays for kids [revised edition], Christmas Press (Second Look Publishing), 1 March 2016, 112pp., $18.99 (pbk), ISBN: 9780994234032
This is a collection of nine plays for children, ranging from a monologue to a play that could include the whole class as cast. This is a revised edition (originally published 1988) with an extra play included. There are some very funny acting instructions that go with the play texts, such as: be sure to pause after a joke to give the audience time to laugh, and if they don’t laugh, repeat the joke. There is a detective play with many execrable puns that are sure to garner groans if not laughter. There are some deeply funny observations of the sorts of desperate resources teachers can draw upon. I am thinking that in the audience there would be many teachers and parents who would laugh a lot at themselves as long as the lines are delivered halfway to competently. Many other jokes will only be funny to children because a child always likes a smart alec, and there is plenty of the smart alec in these scripts. There is a good dose of vaudeville in many of the jokes too, including an especially adventurous extension of the fly in the soup joke. Lots of word play. There are plays set in gangster worlds, in royal palaces , in a Mongolian Yak tent, there is a Dracula parody and much more. This book is more fun to read than you expect it to be, and once you’ve read it, you will be wanting to see some of these plays up on a stage. They constitute a thorough course in how to do comedy. Highly recommended for the theatrical, the demonstrative, the budding comedian, and anyone who enjoys a joke. 9 to 13 years.
Reviewed by Kevin Brophy