“Craig delivers exactly what he promises. A highly engaging and skilled performer and puppeteer with a generous personality, he has a delightful sense of humour and comic timing. He clearly understands, likes and respects his young audience, which is evident in his easy rapport with them. Insightfully appealing for children and adults alike, his approach, material and delivery is refreshingly knowing, charmingly silly and significantly, in no way patronising … whatsoever.”
Jo Belloli, Freelance Children’s Theatre Programmer, Watermans, London
Associate Producer & Early Years Theatre Programmer, Polka Theatre, London
“Since the Festival first hosted the Spiegeltent in 2013 we were keen to increase its family programme in this child friendly venue. We engaged two shows from Squashbox Theatre, The Sea Show and Curious Creatures, and were so delighted with both we have invited Craig back each year. His rapport with the audience, both children and adults, is fantastic, the puppets all have great characters and each show is carefully crafted to be informative as well as fun.”
Amanda McKean, Canterbury International Festival
Stones and Bones at Bristol Old Vic
"Stones and Bones is a one man whirlwind tour of prehistoric Cornwall, and is a must see for all Dinosaur lovers, young and old alike.
The fantastically engaging Craig Johnson led a fully engaged audience on an amazing journey featuring granite and volcano, Stone Age Man, a bearded druid, and a cameo from a Tyrannosaurus Rex. Playing to a full house, the show blended storytelling, slapstick, clever puppetry, cheesy magic and suitably loud music.
We were all fully immersed in the action: roaring with laughter, whooping and shrieking with excitement, and rocking out to the music. We even managed to drown out the loud drilling going on next door! It was slick, original and funny, children aged from about five upwards getting all the jokes, and like all good kids' shows, there were one or two asides for the grown-ups. This show would be perfect for a festival: imagine yourself in a field in summer rather than Bristol in a grey February half term. I promise you’ll enjoy it from start to finish."
Sophia Richards Guide2Bristol
"Funnyman Craig Johnson delivers everything and more that his website promises in his 45-minute slot at one of Bristol’s favourite theatres, a show perfectly pitched to children of 5+ years.
The audience is invited to use the power of imagination to travel back millions of years to a time when dinosaurs ruled the earth and volcanos raged in Cornwall. From the moment we are introduced to the first of Craig’s alter-egos, Archaeologist Dr Winifred Jones, it becomes clear that his set will be full of delightful little surprises.
The young audience remains fully engaged and their chaperones belly laugh as we meet a catalogue of characters, either in the form of Craig himself, one of his puppets or a model. Prehistoric facts are shared with us: did you know that dinosaurs didn’t eat grass? Or that the word Dinosaur means terrible lizard?
We learn about stone circles, the earth’s make-up, Arthurian legend, fossilisation, Druidry and … rock music. As the accordion-accompanied rock song prompts rows and rows of little people to bang their heads in rhythm to the music, we know that the content of this production has laid foundations that we, as parents, can build upon."
The Sea Show at Bristol Old Vic
"The Sea Show is the creation of Craig Johnson of Squashbox Theatre; a highly talented actor, musician and puppeteer. It is unsurprising to find he is a member of the wonderful Kneehigh Theatre as he cavorts and entertains the eager young theatre goers who have come to be mesmerised by the splendid array of characters that parade before them.
The one hour spectacle allows the youngest seafarer to join in the tales of Captain Pemburthy, Morwenna the mermaid and the show stopping Ruan the reformed Seagull, aptly named because he really did use to ruin everything.
This is a delightful, energetic and robust celebration of all the fun of a seaside puppet show. Johnson’s natural rapport and good humoured fun with the young people makes this an absolute celebration of all that is good about theatre for children; it is small scale but the commitment, talent and creativity is in abundance, always ensuring that everyone is listened to and included in the ebb and flow of the fun. Whilst there is great enjoyment and energy throughout the show, the various messages of “safe surfing,” “recycling” and litter on beaches are taken seriously without labouring the point to the young crew.
Johnson sings and plays the accordion well, inviting any willing little folk to join him onstage in a resounding finale of what must be a highly memorable trip for them, it is evident that for many it is not their first encounter with this most engaging and classic storyteller and I am sure if this standard is anything to go by then there will also be many new recruits for his next visit."
Petra Schofield, What’s On Stage
Nice things people
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“We have booked Squashbox regularly at The Acorn over the years, because we know how much our audience love their shows. Craig’s warm and approachable personality is ideal for a young audience, his storytelling is mesmerising and his jokes perfectly pitched, the puppets delightful and the characters highly entertaining. This is family theatre at its best: informative, engaging and hugely enjoyable for both adults and children. Every child (and adult) should see one of his shows!”
Vanessa Jackson, Programmer, The Acorn, Penzance
“The Poly regularly programmes shows from Craig Johnson’s Squashbox Theatre. He’s a performer who really understands how to create good-quality shows for family audiences, shows that entertain both children and adults. His versatility as a puppeteer, musician, storyteller and actor means that with Craig, a one-man show feels as if there was a whole company on stage, and children in the audience often can’t believe that he did everything. As well as being immensely entertaining, Squashbox shows dealing with the ecology or subjects such as astronomy are very educational, making them a great way of introducing children to these subjects in a fun way.”
Dot Peryer, The Poly, Falmouth
“Kneehigh member Craig Johnson uses the name Squashbox for his one-man children's shows, but Universarama! is so good it deserves to be seen by everyone.
A mixture of Johnny Ball, The Muppets and his parent company's anarchic wit, the show is a fact-packed exploration of the universe and our place in it, featuring many of the astronomers who have aided our understanding of Space.
So as well as Professor Johnson himself we are taken on an instructive yet side-splitting journey with Ptolemy, Galileo, Hubble and many others.
Among the highlights are intergalactic grocer Gilbert Godrevy using fruit of all shapes and sizes to show the planets' place in the universe, while Sidney Smith sings a couple of very funny songs like some psychedelic George Formby idiot savant. And let's not even get on to the subject of Uranus's pronunciation.
Among all this hilarity is the truly moving story of Launceston's John Couch Adams, a modest man who predicted the existence and position of Neptune using only mathematics in 1845. Due to a succession of calamities, he was just beaten to its discovery by Frenchman Urbain Le Verrier. It's testament to Craig's writing and acting that a story using a puppet as its emotional core should lend so much gravity (sorry...) to proceedings.
I came out marvelling at how Craig – a self-confessed astronomy nerd – can remember so many mathematical details and make them entertaining to boot. He would make an award-winning teacher and certainly enlightened my seven-year-old on the workings of the Universe (and, I have to confess, me as well).
This is one of those rare theatrical triumphs that makes you want to drag everyone you know along – do not miss it!”
Lee Trewhela, The Cornishman
Universarama! at The Tolmen Centre, Cornwall
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"Craig Johnson of Squashbox Theatre was the creator and sole performer of Universarama; he is one of the most skilled performers I have ever seen. Not only does this show combine education and drama effortlessly, which although sounds easy can be incredibly tricky to pull off, he also develops a great storyline, sings catchy tunes and creates lots of humorous characters!
His genuine enthusiasm for the Universe and Astronomy shone through. He performed with a real energy. His use of dramatic techniques to portray the different characters was so diverse; from great costume changes to wacky puppets and robots that were so believable adults and children alike were entranced by them.
Craig usually works with Kneehigh Theatre, and he said it was a big jump to work on his own, realizing that he couldn’t be off-stage while other actors were playing different characters. Craig said “When I was writing the show I would be thinking, right when Professor Heisenberg (a character in the play) is on stage I can set up this prop, and then suddenly I would remember I was Professor Heisenberg!”
He also confessed to his slightly geekish love of Astronomy and the Universe, which had fuelled his imagination to create this stunning show. He didn’t really have to learn a script because actually knew most of the of information and said he could of gone on for hours! Cutting the running time down was a real challenge. You could sense his excitement sharing the facts he had on the tip of his tongue and his unique way of sharing knowledge with his audience, I can still remember that if the Sun and Proxima Centauri (the Sun’s closest relative) were the size of cherries, the distance between them would be from Constantine to Bristol!
The show had a powerful environmental message that made me really think about how we need to take of our planet. Don’t miss it!!!"
Izella Hollida, Cornwall Young Promoters