A tall story about the wonders of being small for 4-9s
Justin is the smallest boy in the whole town. So small that he can swim with goldfish. So small his sister takes him to school in her lunchbox. So small the class bully, Bother Boots Bradley, wants to catch him and keep him as his new pet.
Justin just wants to be like his giant Dad, but when he finds out his Dad is not the Big Wow, he sets off on a journey to find who – or what – the Big Wow really is! Can the Big Wow help Justin to be tall in time, before Bradley puts him in a cage ready for the school show and tell in assembly?
With the help of a pigeon, the mountain and the World Ant Weightlifting Champion, Justin soon realises that being big might not be all its bigged up to be.
Told with huge helpings of humour, poignant poetry and original music, this was a tall story about the wonders of being small.
A Justin Coe production that toured nationally as part of Half Moon Presents.
“Young people relate to tiny characters, feel superior to someone smaller than them, and are fascinated by the ins and outs of life in the little lane. Big Wow Small Wonder appeals through a combination of all three, as titchy Justin negotiates everyday life, comes under threat from big bullies at school, and searches for the Big Wow in a desperate attempt to grow…and (Justin Coe’s) trust in the audience’s patience for performance poetry pays off.”
Children’s Theatre Reviews
“Epic and intimate at the same time, brilliant.”
Audience member @ Half Moon
“Justin’s performance was slick and professional, magical and inspirational. Poetry has never been more popular!”
“Poetry, storytelling, and sheer charm emanating from the personal magic of Justin himself.”
Brighton Festival Fringe
Londonist: Big Wow Small Wonder preview, 1 December 2016
Docklands and East London Advertiser: Big Wow Small Wonder preview, 12 May 2016
Children’s Theatre Reviews: Big Wow Small Wonder review, 16 January 2016
East End Life: Big Wow Small Wonder preview, 11 January 2016
Press release: Bog Wow Small Wonder
What is Big Wow Small Wonder all about?
Big Wow Small Wonder is all about me when I was very small. When I was a boy I was small that I used to go school in my sister’s lunchbox. It was hard being that tiny, especially because my Dad was a giant. I looked up to him a lot (I had to, otherwise I would have been talking to his trouser legs all the time). Also, there was a boy called Bradley Bother Boots (that’s not his real name, I’ve changed it to protect his identity) who wanted to take me home and keep me as a pet. I thought the only way I can escape his clutches was to grow and to grow fast. I heard that there was something called the Big Wow that could help me and so this is the true tall story of my search for the Big Wow.
What was your inspiration for the story?
I’ve always enjoyed stories like Mrs Pepperpot, Gulliver’s Travels and The Borrowers, but this story really is about my life as a child. Ok, there may be some exaggeration. I may have enlarged some people and made other people smaller. But I really was the smallest boy in school for a very long time and right up to the end of my school life, I was always the smallest in my class.
How did the piece come to fruition?
Three years ago I was involved in making a piece of spoken word theatre with Half Moon Theatre and two other poets (Rosemary Harris and Sophie Rose) called One Way Ticket. After this toured very successfully, I asked Chris Elwell from Half Moon if he would be interested in helping me create my own one person show, and luckily for me, he agreed. I work as a poet regularly in schools and have created many other spoken word theatre shows before but this is the first time I have had the chance to make my own show with a professional theatre.
So what can audiences look forward to?
Audiences can look forward to some amusing re-enactments of some of the most disastrous moments from my life as a little person. Like the time I swam with my pet-fish, Well-fed Wilfred. They will also get the chance to meet my Little Nana and my Big Nana, two very big inspirations behind the show, especially Little Nana, funnily enough. And also some original music by composer Pete Coates and an amazing set made by designer Verity, complete with a talking pigeon and an ant circus.
Audience Participation is very important to the show. What was the thinking behind this?
I always love to get my audiences to join in as much as possible, even when I perform to adults. It means I can make sure all the Mums and Dads are still awake, if nothing else. But actually on this show, we wanted to invite the audience to come with me into another world and feel like they could join in a bit if they wanted to but not feel forced to. So you can pretend to swim with Wellfed Wilfred with me if you want to, but on other hand, you don’t have to bring your trunks and a towel.
What was it like to have a mini-Justin model?
It’s a bit strange. But I think we have bonded quite well. It feels like I’m talking to my younger smaller self – which I am. Unfortunately I can’t tell you what my younger smaller self thinks of the experience as he doesn’t actually have the capacity to talk. I have to talk for him, so you just have to take my word for it that I have recorded his experience as faithfully as possible.
Describe the show in three words?
Adventure. Humour. Wordplay (I think that’s still three words!)
What would you like audiences to take with them after seeing the show?
Hopefully not the mini-Justin. But apart from that, I hope people enjoy the show and have a giggle but also understand better what it is like to be the smallest, or the tallest, or a little bit different in some way. As I’m sure mini-Justin himself would say, if he could actually say anything himself, “No matter if I’m down low and you’re up high, the feelings inside of us are the same size!”