Poet Simon Mole and musician Gecko have joined forces to write and perform a new show for children and families.

Mole & Gecko: The Show is coming to artsdepot on Sunday, March 17, and tells the story of a mole and a gecko, with the help of the audience. There are live songs, rap stories, instant poems and a weasel with a serious biscuit problem.

We sat down with poet Simon Mole, North London-based musician Gecko and director Peader Kirk to discuss their new show.

Tell us more about the show.

Gecko: Mole & Gecko: The Show is an adventure story down a river that the audience help us create. I’ve brought my guitar to add to the poetry table. Simon has a rap background so we musically gelled really quickly. This is the first material I’ve done specifically aimed at kids and families and I’ve found it such an exciting challenge, especially working out what is funny. Simon is much more experienced working with younger people so I’ve learnt loads from him.

Mole: The level of audience interaction in this show means it’s the first time I’ve come close to achieving on stage the same buzz that sometimes builds in a poetry writing workshop with young people. It’s the moment in that shared creative process when they realise they are already poets and can say whatever ridiculous genius thought pops into their heads.

Peader: Interactive shows are quite difficult for a director because part of my job is shaping and structuring the piece and the performances and when every show is going to be different that is hard. It is also fun – thinking about all the different ways that audiences might respond and the choices they might make. You have to make a structure that is a bit “Kung-Fu”- strong but flexible.

How has the devising process worked for this show?

Gecko: It’s been ridiculously fun. From the first time Simon and I decided to get together it has flowed really easily. We are both wordplay fiends so typically it’s been pun-demonium. As a singer/songwriter most of my work is as a Lone Ranger so it’s been especially refreshing to work on a collaborative piece with Simon and our director Peader. If your brain is a web of potential ideas, new brains make different connections possible.

Mole: To begin with we weren’t sure if we were writing songs for an album or a show, so the whole thing has evolved very organically. What we have now is a show and also an album with our favourite songs from it – win win! Writing with Gecko has been so much fun. It has really reminded me how much I love making music with other people. I used to be the rapper in a ten-piece live band, so it’s been a case of dusting off the cobwebs and getting in the booth to record again!

Peader: Working on this piece had elements of that but having the fabulous Gecko involved meant that he and Mole wrote a lot of the songs before we had the story or the piece so it was the songs that lead a lot of the process this time. We spent one great day thinking of all the names of biscuits that we knew and coming up with rhymes and puns for the weasel’s song. Just what rhymes with hob-nobs?

What would you say is the main take-home message of the show?

Gecko: I think the main message is to embrace people’s (and animals’) differences and learn from each other. Also, you can’t just focus on your little section of the river because it’s all connected.

Mole: Thematically I think we open space for children to think about friendship; by presenting two central characters who are animals of different species with different cultures and experiences of the world, we show that understanding and enjoying our differences is an important part of getting to know each other. Good friendships help people (or animals!) to grow and change, but also allow them to be accepted for who they truly are.

Peader: Not a great believer in messages – I think it is more that the piece invites audiences to think about things and see how other audience members think about those things. The interactive nature of the piece means that it models listening to others and hearing their point of view as well as encouraging you to articulate yours – and that feels quite important at this moment.

The show features plenty of audience interaction. Does that make the show tricky to rehearse?

Gecko: Luckily we’ve been privileged to work with young people in both Maidenhead and London whilst devising the show and their input was invaluable when trying out interactive sections. The audience interaction grows as the show goes on so hopefully their confidence grows with it. As the show comes to a close the audience have the final say on what action brings the piece to an end.

Mole: Our director Peader Kirk is brilliant at improvising a range of potential suggestions that could possibly come from an audience of 5-11 year olds, but really there is no substitute for testing material with groups of children. A big thank you to Wessex Primary and Salusbury Primary for their help!

The show features a weasel with a serious biscuit problem! What’s your favourite biscuit?

Gecko: Shortbread.

Mole: Number one: Bourbon. Number two: Bourbon. Number three: Bourbon.

Peader: Is an oatcake a biscuit? I would say an oatcake. An oatcake is not a biscuit. Oh ok, then a flapjack. One with lots of fruit.

artsdepot, 5 Nether Street, North Finchley, Sunday, March 17, 11am and 2pm. Details: 020 8369 5454 artsdepot.co.uk