Reviews 2018

Attrape Moi

Assembly

We were totally and utterly blown away by this fast paced, energetic, playful and infectious show !

Flip Fabrique weave their magic through a tale of friendship, journeys and many shared adventures together. Stunning acrobatics, juggling, diabolo and hula hooping are interspersed with moments of humour and competitive games, which had the kids giggling away. Boundaries are pushed both physically and with the audience – resulting in audible gasps as performers flew across heads, narrowly avoided walking off edges and played with the limits ! And if you’ve ever wondered what happens to all those birth balls after women have their babies – you’ll have to see the show to find out! A spectacular and jaw dropping finale with a giant trampoline was the absolute icing on the cake ! – a stellar performance and I could go back again and again and again !!!

I wish I’d taken a picture of the kids’ mouths hanging open in wonderment – you’ll just have to go and recreate it yourself !

My mini reviewers say : ”Absolutely awesome…best show ever !”

”When they were throwing the big red balls – that was cool ! – and when they got brain freeze from eating ice pops !”

Image result for five stars

 

Better Together

Pleasance

A wait for the bus becomes something quite exquisite in this simple and extremely charming clowning adventure…

As the brightly dressed Tropizo, Doa and Squiggle each arrive at the bus stop, bringing along their own individual quirkiness, we are immediately aware of the distracting nature of their music and headphones and the isolation this brings. They slowly warm to each other, tumbling across the stage and playing games- the headphones are ditched , birdsong can be heard and friendships are swiftly formed. The ”people not screens” motto of the piece is achingly evident as Tropizo pulls out her mobile phone and switches off from all around her….it takes an abundance of silly acrobatic fun and a sprinkling of self realisation of her segregation and loneliness to discard the phone and join in the merriment!

Highlighting the positives of making friends and new connections, this loveable trio of clowns are sure to bring some sunshine into your day and encourage you to switch off and appreciate your surroundings !

My mini reviewers said : ”I enjoyed when one of them was sleeping and they wee pushing her around to each other”

”It was very funny and made me giggle”

Image result for four stars

 

Brainiac Live!

Underbelly

If you like loud bangs, explosions, things being set on fire and lots of smoke, then this is the perfect show for you !!

Jam packed full of science experiments, mind riddles on the large screen and folk in lab coats and goggles, this show has a little bit of everything including the science behind it all. We saw Brainiacs testing the strengths of various materials by running through them, saw Brainiacs voluntarily electrifying themselves, experimenting with liquid nitrogen, using rockets to fire socks into the crowd and my personal favourite was watching a Brainiac spin wildly in an office chair propelled by a fire extinguisher– something I’ll remember for quite some time !! Misheard song lyrics had us all giggling away and a fascinating exploration of our hearing made me realise I’m not as young as I like to think I am !!

Coming with it’s own warning, this is one large, LOUD and literally electrifying show, put your fingers in your ears and prepare for the brilliant Brainiac boom ….it’s absolutely addictive and we just want to see more !

My mini reviewers say : ”The whizzy, spinning seat was awesome..”

”The BIG bangs were the best..”

Image result for five stars

 

Chores

Assembly

An instantly lovable, dungaree wearing, dynamic duo take us through this absolute madcap hour of messy fun…

As the two boys grapple with getting their mess under control so they can get the ultimate reward – a bicycle ride – bedlam ensues ! Plenty of slapstick comedy ensures the young audience is giggling right from the start, and indeed the giggling barely stops. We are taken through a whirlwind of silliness as toilet paper is fired out among us, water sprays from all directions and pants, juggling batons and giant balls fly over the stage. The talented duo embrace the often unpredictable audience reactions and think quickly on their feet ! Add into this mix some impressive acrobatics, contortionism, funky dance moves, and clowning and you’ve got fantastic results !

Encouraging your kids to clean their room will never quite be the same again ! Younger children will undoubtedly love this – just make sure you sit near the front for full chaos….

My mini reviewers said : ”….I liked the toilet guns best….”

‘I thought the big bicycle was super cool…”

Image result for four stars

 

Circa : Wolfgang

Underbelly Circus Hub

Being alone on your birthday can be very lonely indeed, so when someone suddenly arrives to come and play, you’re extremely excited– even if they are Mozart and they are a little bit silly…

Within this loose storyline, we are treated to an hour of playfulness as the two friends twist and turn their way around the stage, tumbling over each other, chairs and even bicycles ! Mozart’s music is obviously the soundtrack, and a somewhat oddly placed accordionist provides extra live musical accompaniment ! Circa are extremely talented performers and this production is far too dampened down for the children I bring with me- there are moments of fantastic acrobatic skills but too much time is spent on sections like playing with a light beam that felt too slow and clumpy for us and quickly lost children’s attention. The venue being unbearably hot added another distraction from the show itself, and I can’t imagine how the performers were coping?

A slow motion fight scene delights and elicits much giggling, along with some rather slippery batons – reminding us that Circa have managed a piece that can introduce a young audience to both physical circus and classical music , and that in itself is quite some feat.

My mini reviewers said : ”The slow motion fight scene was funny…”

”Riding the bicycle in his pants and getting dressed – that looked tricky…”

Image result for three stars

 

Circolombia

Underbelly

For something truly, truly spectacular, that has you biting your nails with tension and then feeling overwhelming relief and awe, you must go and watch the astonishing Circolombia….

It’s hard to describe in words what this circus manages to achieve ! With a fabulous live music soundtrack keeping the rhythm and pace, the performers flip and toss each other across the stage gracefully, making it all look so deceivingly simple – and that’s just for starters ! Each individual shows extreme skill, strength, trust and daring – the bond between them hugely evident as they push themselves to the limit. Moments had me wondering how on earth they decided to even attempt what they were doing ?? A highlight has to be the giant swing, which was so carefree and exhilarating in equal measure whilst also reinforcing the message of being unique and wonderful!

Breathtaking, stunning and completely unnerving too – do not miss out on a chance to experience this celebration for yourself …

My mini reviewer said : ”I LOVED it, the swing, the see-saw and the ropes were the best…”

Image result for five stars

 

David Baddiels’s AniMalcolm

Gilded Balloon

Malcolm wakes on his 11th birthday and doesn’t quite get the present he was hoping for, instead of a brand new, super duper laptop, he gets a pet Chinchilla …and we are treated to a fantastic musical, filled with tons of humour and sharp wit!

For Malcolm it gets worse -he doesn’t exactly share in his family’s love of animals (a result of an incident called ‘monkey moment’) and is therefore less than excited at the prospect of a school trip to a farm. However after meeting a rather magical goat, and finding himself transformed into a tortoise, the fun really begins !! Malcolm befriends his fellow tortoises, Benny and Bjorn who are hugely entertaining and finds himself on a journey of discovery as he turns into a host of other animals….these changes are performed seamlessly with clever lights and perfect costume enhancements to bring the animals alive ! Each one imparts some wisdom along the way, and as Malcolm slowly learns to love the various creatures he spends time with, he also learns that appearances aren’t important – it’s what is on the inside that counts, a message that resonated with the children I brought along….

A marvellous, energetic show that stands out for being extremely slick and professional and keeping everyone fully absorbed. Join Malcolm in his adventures and  in being around a lot of the things he really rather dislikes….

My mini reviewers said : ”I liked how the moral for the tortoise was it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, it matters what’s on the inside …”

”Calling the pig Fatty Bum Bum made me giggle..”

My mini reviwers said : ”I liked how the moral for the tortoise was it doesn’t matter what you look like on the outside, it matters what’s on the inside …”

”Calling the pig Fatty Bum Bum made me giggle..”

Image result for four stars

 

Denim : The Denim Juniors

Assembly

For something spectacularly different and altogether fabulous, join Denim as they remind us all to be ourselves, sing loud and proud and add a lot of glitter and sparkle in the process…

These five drag queens inspire and motivate, telling stories of little fish embracing who they are and making friends along the way, singing reworked hits such as ‘Mothers Just Wanna Have Fun’ and ‘I’m not a Barbie Girl’…Their voices are astounding, their costumes colourful and the Piccolo tent is quickly filled with adoring fans of all sizes !! This is truly a drag show for the next generation, the perfect ‘place to scream, dream and become a queen’. With opportunities to have a drag queen makeover and advice to raid your mother’s wardrobe – this is a child’s wonderland….

With plenty to keep the adults entertained too – don’t miss out on this bold, bright and brilliant reminder of being yourself and being sensational!

My mini reviewers say : ”It’s hard to describe, I can only say awesome, fantastic and amazing !”

..the snow was cool and I liked the glittery beard !

Image result for five stars

 

Duckie

Summerhall

What a total treat of a show this is! Le Gateau Chocolat takes us through a whirlwind of emotions in this utterly charming reimagining of Hans Christian Andersen’s The Ugly Ducking…

Duckie’s start in life is a little flat; unable to quack or dance like the others, he sets out on his own path of discovery. Within the animal circus, Duckie attempts to be strong like the lions, walk tightropes like the flamingos and even join in elephant acrobatics, but all without any success. It takes a mystical fortune teller and ultimately an unlikely friend in a tiny mouse for Duckie to finally realise his inner strengths and talents. I’ll admit to shedding a tear or two during a highly charged rendition of Nothings Gonna Harm You, and flipping full circle to feeling heartburstingly happy during the song I am What I am.

Messages of identity, discrimination and inclusiveness thread through this heartening tale which sparkles with little bits of creative magic – making it perfect for wee ones and big ones alike.

My Mini reviewers say : ”I loved each animal having a different song – the flamingoes were the funniest ….”

”…(singing..) Flamingos just wanna have fun…”

Image result for five stars

 

Fun Kids Radio’s Epic Roadshow Adventure

We were really excited to head to the Fun Kids show as we are active listeners of the radio station so it was great to see the presenters live and on stage.

The concept was good and it was interesting to help them make a radio show and to think that it would be going live across the UK. They had structured the show well, actively involved the audience and children and parents were on stage, shouting out ideas and volunteering their help. It brought the audience together and to be honest I think the adults had more fun than the kids at points. During the show, a small boy who was learning to read was given the opportunity to participate. He sounded out the words on the cue card and read very well – the Fun Kids team were fantastically patient and really supported his efforts.

The presenters had lots of energy; however for some of the children the plot was a little long and they lost their initial enthusiasm by the end. Would only really take those 6 years or older and only those who have listened to the radio station, otherwise not sure they will get the plot or have the connection. Fantastic effort from Fun Kids, but probably not going to appeal to all.

 

How To Spot An Alien

Summerhall – Roundabout

So your Mum has mysteriously gone missing in the middle of the night, and you’re now living with your Aunt who you think might be an alien…what to do? What to do indeed …..

Twelve year old Jelly and her brother Jonjo have got themselves into a serious pickle, and we are taken along for the star studded ride ! Fighting off the sluggish effects of too much daytime television and delicious sponge cake, Jelly and Jonjo set themselves the challenge of escaping from their Aunt Leena and getting back to their Mum. Paines Plough once again prove that you don’t need fancy props or an intricate set behind you to set a scene or tell a story – the three actors use the immersive Roundabout space and the fluid boundaries to full effect – crawling, jumping and spinning around the stage whilst the hundreds of lights on the ceiling impressively convey an alien spaceship when needed ! It is absolutely captivating, filled with plenty of humour and when the story starts to wander off a little in a bizarre direction, the acting and energy on stage still manages to hold it all together…

Whimsical and just a little bit wacky, older children will love this slightly gruesome tale – just be sure to always keep a shiny spoon handy and keep asking questions along the way !

My mini reviewer said : ”I liked the victory flossing dance, oh and the driver with eight eyes was super cool…”

Image result for four stars

 

MamaBabaMe

Pleasance – Part of the Made in Scotland showcase

The first show I have seen in the Fringe this year has inevitably brought up the issue I grappled with last year – deciding how much weight to place on the merits of the artistic side of a performance and how much on its basic entertainment value. I imagine this is a problem with all art/entertainment, it just becomes more important with a kids show. At its most basic I want my 2 year old to remain engaged – not wriggling, complaining or looking around for something else to do. Remaining engaged is vital, however is there something to be said, as children get a bit older, in a show asking for a little bit more from the audience. Providing opportunities for children to pay attention to work that is not immediately grabbing may help nurture appreciation of more complex work as an adult. It all depends on what you’re after.

For me and my two year old her remaining engaged is still my main priority, however, more than last year with a one year old, I have higher hopes that either one or both of us is inspired, challenged or moved. By this set of objectives MamaBabaMe delivered well. Touching and playful it is in the main a dance piece, with live cello, backing tracks, some voice, theatre and prop work. Two female dancers roll and leap about a carpeted, enclosed circle, cuddling, crawling and dancing, emulating baby and young children’s movements and expressions using contemporary and contact improvisation dance forms while a man playing a cello presides. The dancers interacted with the little ones on the outside of the circle. At the end they brought out balloons and invited all the children to come inside the circle to play with the balloons and each other.

The audience comprised of young babies up to speaking 3 year olds. My daughter was quiet, still and intently engaged for most of the performance. Every child is different however and when the show slowed for too long the audience noise overall rose and threatened to mutiny over the circle’s barriers. Each time the pace deftly picked up just in time to save the day.

For a show entitled ‘MamaBabaMe’ and which moved me personally as a (still relatively new) mum it was interesting that not one of the performers was a mother themselves. This could have been humorously picked up on near the end when each performer put a balloon under the shirt and asked ‘mama’? ‘baba’? ‘me?’ repeatedly of each other and the audience.

If you’re after flash lights, thrills and all the frills this show is not for you. If you and your little one enjoy something more reflective, moving and a little more introspective I think you might highly enjoy it. We did.

Image result for 3 1/2 stars

(Katch Holmes)

 

Roald Dahl’s The Twits

theSpace

The Twits are about as horrible as you can imagine, and for those familiar with the book, this production brought them vividly to life !

Mr. Twit’s long bushy beard is filled with nasty bits of food and Mrs Twit is hunched over and moaning a lot – a group of colourful narrators help us navigate this well loved tale and encourage audience involvement and participation along the way…Mr. Twit has stolen a group of Mugglewump monkeys from the rainforest and their friend the Roly Poly bird attempts to save them before they end up as a mere circus act! In between some rather gross and gruesome pranks the Twits play on each other, we are able to see the mischievous monkeys plot their escape and with a little bit of help, play the ultimate trick in revenge.

An amazing adaptation of a much loved tale, these young actors are truly superb- great storytelling with enough silliness, dancing and a touch of terrifying terribleness to keep everyone utterly absorbed !!

My mini reviewer said : ” When he ate the worms – that was funny and everyone being all upside down.”

Image result for four stars

 

Splash Test Dummies

Underbelly

The Dummies are back in town and we’re all kinds of delighted !! The talented lifeguarding trio take us on an almighty splish splashingly awesome adventure …

Squeezing a whole host of of bizarre antics into this very lively hour, we experience moments of Baywatch style lifesaving, impressive unicycling, brilliant beach volleyball, underwater shenanigans and proving there’s not a lot they can’t turn their hand to, even a dusting of shadow puppetry. The trio of clowns surprise and delight the adoring crowd expertly and as you’d imagine there are some interactive moments involving just a touch of water too – someone had ingeniously thought to bring their own swimming goggles along!! We are constantly reminded of the talents the Dummies possess too, expert acrobatics, juggling, balancing and slapstick are all made to look relaxed and easy in their unique style.

”Splash Test Dummies – we’re awfully fond of you !..”

My mini reviewers said : ”I liked the skeleton bit and the water pistols of course!”

”The best bit was when they saved people -‘save me..’ arggg”

Image result for five stars

 

The Amazing Bubble Man

Underbelly

Bubbleman was a packed show and for good reason. From the very beginning the audience are transfixed by Louis Pearl’s bubble skills. He begins with smaller bubbles and works big before creating bubbles that rise to the ceiling, smoke filled bubbles, bubble sculptures and even fantastical hat creations.

Audience participation is strong with both children and adults being invited up and entire children encased in bubbles at one point!

Part of what makes the show is the live music, provided by Bubbleman’s sidekick Jet Black Pearl. Live on accordion, flute, vocals and loop pedal she loops, sings and plays, building the show up in suspense, reflecting the bubble movements and providing a one woman show in herself.

As the show can get quite almost quite technical in what Louis achieves with bubbles this show will be especially appreciated by older children. At an hour it is quite long for the younger ones, however there were more than a few who remained in their seats throughout the show so it probably depends on the child!

Between Jet Black Pearl’s live music, Bubbleman’s chat which more than entertained the adults as well as the children and of course the spectacular bubble creations this show will be enjoyed by the whole family.

(Written by Katch Holmes)

Image result for four and a half stars

 

The Bear

Pleasance

Pins and Needles bring us this gentle and enchanting adaptation of Raymond Briggs’ much loved book, and we’re thrilled to be here when the Bear decides to pay a visit…

Tilly, wandering around in her onesie is hugely engaging and starts interacting with the audience as soon as we are getting seated…her musical numbers help the pace of the show, which as times does feel a little too stretched. While Tilly is safely tucked up sleeping we see a huge polar bear squeeze itself through her bedroom window and we are fully captivated ! Clever puppetry, especially the large Bear feet make this truly magical and as the Bear causes chaos in Tilly’s bedroom, the bathroom and kitchen alike we are all happily entertained. As the Bear retreats away again at the end of the day, a sense of sadness fills the room, immediately replaced by intrigue as a giant white parachute fills the stage – a finale of the Bear in its polar home is a little dusting of extra magic.

A thoughtful and considered piece, suited well to younger children who will enjoy the charm and appeal of the story…..

My mini reviewers say : ” I liked the Bear coming through the window..”

”The puppets were amazing – the baby bear was super cute…”

Image result for 3 1/2 stars

 

The Bureau of Untold Stories

Museum of Childhood

On a soggy and dreich Edinburgh day, this atmospheric and interactive performance is the perfect antidote…

It’s only a shame this wasn’t on for more than one day as we really enjoyed becoming detectives and putting some stories together to help Dexter Sharpe and Poppy Hasluck fight the evil Eraser, a mastermind criminal ! Using folders of beginnings, middles, endings and even just sounds we helped create some fantastic new tales….members of the audience are completely involved, invited to add words, places, names and characters into these narratives. Even dreams come alive as the two talented actors help us solve this mystery and become investigators too…

Innovative, imaginative and importantly fun – this is one mystery you will love helping to solve!

My Mini reviewer said : ”The noises one was cool and helping put stories together..”

Image result for four stars

The Dark Room (For Kids!)

Gilded Balloon

This comedy show primarily aimed at 11+ kids has a straightforward format. Set up as a large live action video game, members of the audience have to play to try and escape the “dark room”, and win one of the most random selection of prizes ever encountered.

The show at times feels a bit repetitive but the mix of different audience members directing the choices in the game with a well scripted baseline story and a good dose of funny ad-lib remarks keep this show from becoming staid. Judging by the audience and the loud laughter coming from most members,young and old, John Robertson, the cyberpunk gamesmaster of the show, manages to pitch the humour just right to entertain all ages.

The balance is kept skilfully between dark humour and kid friendly entertainment and our 14 year old reviewer laughed from beginning to end:

5 minutes in – ” I love it already”

10 minutes in – “This is so ridiculous and funny”

50 mins later  – leaving with a flamboyant potato! and a huge grin

If you’re looking for a nonsense, in your face kids comedy show, especially for   pre/early teens, this is for you.

Image result for four stars

 

The Gruffalo, The Witch and The Warthog with Julia Donaldson

Underbelly

Julia Dondaldson needs no introduction, she is a household name amongst all parents and her beautiful, rhyming books are things of wonder …

This show captivates all of the magic of the books and much much more….the stories come to life on stage before us and is very much a family affair with Julia Donaldson herself, her husband, sister, and two friends. Clearly a huge amount of chemistry between the actors! The well loved stories Room on the Broom, the Gruffalo and Superworm are enthusiastically shared, as are the newer, lesser known Magic Paintbrush and the Ugly Five. With an ingenious use of costumes, gorgeous puppets and sets based on original illustrations from the books, which open up to reveal more surprises it is evident why tickets to this show are the hottest in town !! Top tip – bring along your books to get signed by the lady herself after the show, and if you’re lucky enough like us you may get serenaded by Malcolm Donaldson too !!

And just when you thought this inspired and wonderful hour could not get any better – we all witnessed the Gruffalo flossing….

My mini reviewer said : ”It was super fun. I LOVED the Gruffalo and the mouse. I just love it!”

(Sophie Hug Williams)

Image result for five stars

 

The Lost Things

Pleasance

We are invited in to a small dark space, where we are seated low down amongst old treasures, bits and pieces that we soon discover are inhabiting a mysterious place; a place where all the lost things settle….

Set in a unique dome structure, this simple production has all the potential of being something very special indeed…..beautiful, handmade puppets, lit by small torches are enchanting, a train that rumbles past spills smoke mystically into the dome and robots come frighteningly to life. Sadly for us though, something was missing- the pace and fluidity of the performance was lacking and the story became dark and confused. Whilst we could appreciate the intricate details of the set, a floor which inventively transformed into ladders and caverns and clever lights that illuminated hearts and faces, the piece became muddled. Young people will however appreciate being able to stay and explore the venue and play with the puppets after the show, getting a chance to make them walk, dance and even do the floss if they are able !!!

A fantastic concept, and one which vividly touches the imagination – a world of lost things, a place where the missing can be found in amongst the darkness and depths, just a shame the story was overwhelmed by the intricacy of the surroundings.

My mini reviewer said : ”..the train with the smoke was amazing, and I liked the hearts glowing..”

Image result for three stars

 

The Showstoppers’ Kids Show

Pleasance

Inviting all the children in the audience to create the story and ideas for a show may sound like a recipe for disaster for most people but the colourful cast of the Showstoppers Kids Show take it all wonderfully and creatively in their stride…

Whilst being seated, we are already being treated to improvised songs about various audience members and attractive clothing – this energetic and engaging start leads in to a somewhat bizarre hour of stories about itchy ballet dancers inevitably being covered in poo (the kids are getting to choose the ideas remember !) and a rather dangerous poodle named Pinky ! I love that the performers are ready to take on the challenge and embrace whatever the audience will come up with, and that the show becomes truly interactive and participative. The live musicians add to the energy and rhythm of the songs and bind it all together. I also love the fact that every day will be different, though I’d guess there would a few recurrent themes, namely around poos….

A sell out show and it’s clear to see why – grab your tickets and prepare to be enthralled by the weird and wacky places children’s imaginations and some talented improvisation can take you !

My mini reviewers say : ” I really liked how they used their imagination and interacted with the audience, getting kids on stage too…”

”I liked the poo dance best…”

Image result for four stars

 

UniverSoul Circus: Hip Hop Under The Big Top

Underbelly

Big, bold and definitely very very loud, this is a hugely colourful, energetic and vibrant circus that is sure to astound….

Featuring performers from the USA, Africa, Mongolia, South America and the Caribbean, this non-stop, action packed hour is truly different from any of the other Underbelly circus offerings this year! No music is too loud, no costume too colourful and there is always room to squeeze a few more performers on stage all at once !!! With no set story line as such, this circus just aims to entertain and it does that in abundance…We see tightrope walking, contortionists, stilt walkers, acrobats and even some very funny clowning – all of this is expertly linked together by the enthusiastic compères and some playful audience interaction which gets everyone on their feet !!

It feels as though the whole show could sometimes do with taking a collective breath as the pace is so swift which can be overwhelming at points – though my mini reviewer just thought this was all the more awesome, so who am I to argue ? !

My mini reviewer said : ”I liked looking at the people on the tightrope, it made you giddy”

Image result for four stars

 

Wilde Creatures

Pleasance

You don’t have to be familiar with Oscar Wilde’s fairy tales to enjoy this musical production, brought to the fringe by the well loved Tall Stories…

Four melodic storytellers bring these (slightly dark but immense) fables to life whilst considering who would be best for the new town statue, instead of the somewhat pompous Mayor who automatically thinks it should be of him – what qualities do we value enough to put on the pedestal ? We see the rich miller and his ‘friendship’ with a poor gardener, a well read student, whose ‘knowledge’ cannot help with finding him love and finally a spoilt princess, where her beauty does not necessarily bring kindness. Well paced and engaging, this is a thoughtful show, with added intricate details to captivate children’s imaginations – a beautiful bird puppet, a collapsible top hat and a simple set of wooden boxes that are open to reveal a surprise.

Exploring ideas of friendship, generosity and grace and with a simple moral message, this show charms and delights in all the right places…

My Mini reviewers say : ” I liked the Wilde Creatures song…”

”I liked the way they told different stories for each person who could be the statue, and then ended up using none of them and sharing the square with everyone instead..”

Image result for four stars

Advertisements