-by Kathryn Ford
The Money Bin
Saturday 22 March
Actor Simon Binns’ enduring childhood dream came true in front of a transfixed audience on Saturday when a victorious and very human Binns morphed into an animal. To be exact, Binns magically transformed into an adorable nose- twitching, cuddly-wuddly bunny rabbit in the Money Bin as part of the You are Here festival.
Animorphed, written and performed by Binns, explores Binns’ obsession as a child in the 90s with the young adult sci-fi book series, Animorphs by K.A. Applegate. This one-man show is a clever, charming, nostalgic piece of theatre about growing up and what happens when an adult attempts to recreate or look back on golden childhood experiences.
The Animorphs series is about a group of teenagers in America who discover that evil mind controlling aliens (the terrifying, slug-like Yeerks) are steadily invading Earth. At the start of the series, one of the good aliens (Elfangor, a blue centaur-like Andalite for those playing at home) gifts the teenagers with the power to morph into animals in an effort to help win the war.
Binns is a brilliant storyteller who quivered with nerdy delight for the entirety of his production. A large portion of Animorphed involved Binns reading out excerpts from the books whilst effortlessly interjecting with his own comical commentary. He drew attention to parts of the story that disturb or delight him now, like the reinforcement of racial stereotypes and parts of the ridiculous but highly enjoyable teenage dialogue. I only wish we had been able to hear Binns read excerpts written by characters other than Jake, the leader of the alien-fighting crew, but that’s probably just me wanting to prolong story time.
Even if you didn’t read the Animorphs series as a kid, Binns articulately explained everything that you needed to know to enjoy the show. If you were, or still are, a dedicated Animorphs enthusiast then it’s likely that the show stirred up a ton of hilarious memories. Binns remembers pretending to morph into animals in the school bathrooms with his best friend and working out that the mean teachers at school were obviously being mind-controlled by Yeerks.
The audience was so invested in Binns and his love of Animorphs that we all let out a collective gasp when Binns revealed his recent devastating discovery that ghostwriters were responsible for many of the books, and not his literary hero K.A. Applegate. This betrayal of trust broke his fanboy heart.
Even so, this painful discovery can’t erase the joy that Animorphs brought Binns as a child. Reading the series fuelled his love of animals, books and reading and nothing can take that away from the little Binns who loved morphing into a rat in the loo. Not even a ghostwriter.
She is stoked to check out some YAH events and see how this city moves during an arts festival. She is confident that YAH will leave us all equipped with the ability to defend ourselves from parasitic ear-entering Yeerks and gifted with mad dance skillz that can only be learned from dancing in the dark.