Reviews 2016

 

Beards ! Beards ! Beards !

Assembly Roxy

For something absolutely completely different this Fringe, I would advise checking out this quick-witted and quirky musical rumpus by Trick of the Light Theatre (the company behind The Bookbinder). Highly recommended for all beard enthusiasts out there !

Beatrix lives with her two beard loving fathers (of course both sporting rather fine facial hair !) who run the ‘best barbershop in town’ but sadly can do nothing to help when Beatrix herself wants a beard. This desire stemming from her perception that all the important, wise and influential people in history have had beards. Beatrix then cuts her hair in a storm and inadvertently calls upon the Portuguese un-canonized Saint of Bearded women – Wilgefortis, who is the highlight of this rather eccentric performance. What follows is a madcap hour of musical madness and visits to various bearded historical characters…

Delivering the simple and important message that what’s behind the beard is what actually counts, this is a real gem of a show and will certainly brighten up anyone’s afternoon…

My mini review says :” I liked the Wilgefortis song and when Beatrix got her beard – her beard was cool”

Bedtime Stories

Underbelly Circus Hub

Imagine curling up under a duvet with a fluffy blanket and pillows and watching an acrobatic story unfold before your very eyes….well, that’s exactly what you can do with this imaginative production by circus performers Upswing. The audience are invited into one huge cosy bedroom, and can sit or lie in comfy beds and snuggle under blankets which clearly thrilled all the children present…shoes are most definitely removed as you relax and enjoy the show !

This is a gentle and evocative piece of physical theatre; beautifully choreographed, telling the story of a young girl who is obviously struggling to go to sleep and instead prefers to go on nightime adventures with her friend Three. We are immersed in their sensory, playful world and their adventures sailing, walking through forests and heading to the moon ! Clever and beautifully illustrated projections help us visually travel along on their journey and graceful acrobatics and silk routines add to the wonder. But hidden behind the whimsical escapades of the girl and Three, we see the other side of the tale- the busy, stressed Mother, struggling to keep up with her hectic life and drowning under the paperwork piling on her desk and we come to understand why bedtime stories are never quite being finished.

Whilst the narrative can at times be difficult to hear, this does not distract from what is ultimately a charming performance carrying the crucial message of ‘letting things go’ and spending more time with one another.

My mini reviewers say : ”The rocket into space was the best bit, and all the things she did on the rocket”

”I loved sitting on the comfy beds and snuggling..”

 

.Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs 2 : The Magic Cutlass

Pleasance

Les Petits Theatre Company return to the fringe with this fantastic sequel to Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs – featuring catchy songs, great puppetry and even a t-Rex’s Mummy !!

This time Flinn and his school-friends are preparing for a school play when they are kidnapped by Captain T-Rex and need to find a magic cutlass to escape…Fans of the well known books by Giles Andreae will not be disappointed with this show featuring all their favourite characters. Our dinosaur friends are brought to life with some clever puppetry and songs and the highlight for the younger audience is the massive (and just a weensy bit scary) Captain T-Rex…..

Whilst the narrative may be a little slow or jumpy for adult members of the audience, the children surrounding me loved the songs, puppets and weirdly -sausages !!

Fast paced and energetic, this pirate dinosaur adventure sprinkled with songs and puppets is sure to captivate younger children and fans of Giles Andreae’s fun books…..

My mini reviewer’s say : ”I liked it when the diplodocus was saying ‘don’t have bath time without me’ …”

It was funny when the T-Rex mummy came out and said ‘play nice’….

 

 

Celeste’s Circus

Scottish Storytelling Centre

Roll up, Roll up -What an enchanting and delightful adventure! After mingling among the audience and making sure all the little ones feel at ease -we are all invited along to the circus with Celeste and her rather magical handbag !!

The circus is filled with some very creative characters – a cheeky cat, talented dogs, a very lovable seal, an impressive tight- rope walking hippo and an enormous pants wearing elephant ! The hand crafted set is gorgeous and keeps everyone captivated as animals pop out, washing lines appear and balloons try and escape ! Celeste calmly leads us through this perfectly timed trip, adding her own elegance and gentle humour along the way…she understands her audience perfectly, providing them with enough colour, surprises, music and puppets to keep them fully engaged and entertained throughout.

Captivating and charming, imaginative and fun….this circus adventure comes highly recommended for little ones….

My mini reviewer says : ”Celia the seal was really cute and I loved all the bubbles …oh and when the dog pooed-that was funny”

 

Children Are Stinky

Assembly

A daring and loveable acrobatic duo – ‘Kylie and Jason’, take you on a hilarious journey in this family clowning and acrobatic madcap hour of fun, and of course stinkiness !

From the moment of being seated, we are already giggling at random feet and balloons sticking out of the set, and we don’t stop laughing. Kylie and Jason lead us through a fluid and fast-paced hour of amazing acrobatics, brilliant balancing, hypnotic hula hooping and a smattering of stinky jokes all set to a great 90s soundtrack, sure to keep the audience moving ! Their belief is that children are scaredy cats, lazy, uncoordinated, unimaginative and above all stinky and it’s up to the audience to prove them wrong which promises for plenty of interaction and participation. These extremely skilled performers come up with some innovative and imaginative sequences using chairs, eggs, hula hoops and ridiculously a fast forward button to showcase their talents…

Coming to the conclusion that children are infact awesome and perhaps just a little bit smelly too, this is one show not to be missed- grab your tickets and prepare for a stinky, silly, superb adventure……

My mini reviewers say : ” I enjoyed being on stage and watching Jason walk on his hands over me..”  ”The hula hooping was amazing”

” I like the whoopee cushions ! ”

Glasgow Girls

Assembly

From start to finish, this is simply a superb and fantastic show….a total highlight of the Fringe this year ! Opening with a very catchy ‘Welcome to Glasgow’ song….this musical is based on events dating back to 1999 when asylum seekers were dispersed around the UK and Glasgow opened it’s doors (and housing schemes) to asylum seekers who came to settle there.

We see friendships forming in school and the rather fabulous Mr. Girvan with his new class of asylum seekers learning English. What follows is an emotive and inspiring portrayal of true events when one of the girls is taken to a detention centre awaiting deportation as her home country has been deemed ‘safe’ by the home office. As her friends process this news and decide to take action against it, thus the ‘Glasgow Girls’ are born – a group of seven feisty females and firm friends, determined to challenge the Home Office decision and bring their friend back home to Drumchapel. Among some energetic musical numbers and outstanding dance routines, we are shown the brutality of dawn raids, the rash, generalised decisions of the Home Office and the daily fear of deportation that asylum seekers face.

We are witness to touches of wit and humour and the fabulous character Noreen, who never wanting to be in a musical has ended up in one and we’re all very thankful – she adds Glasgow banter, charm and massive loyalty as she gets up in the early mornings to watch for the vans arriving for the raids, to be able to warn her new neighbours.

Proving that it is possible to enact political change, this brilliant production delivers a very powerful and inspiring message of hope that is so pertinent in our current political climate. Grab a friend and get yourself along, everyone should be seeing this show…

 

I Got Superpowers For My Birthday

Summerhall- Roundabout

‘We’re not kids Mr. Goblinman – we’re thirteen ‘. In this absolute stunner of a show we are taken on an incredible journey along with Ethan, William and Fiona as they each discover they have superpowers on the eve of their thirteenth birthdays. What follows is some spellbinding storytelling as we are whisked along with the terrific trio on their quest to save their families and the world against ‘the darkness’….

Located in this unique round venue, perfect for the audience to feel fully immersed in the story, it is easy to forget there are no props, no fancy costumes- just spectacular acting as the three convey not only the schoolyard heroes but also three rather nasty ‘baddies’ in the form of a wicked goblin, giant sloppy slug and a massive dragon. Impressive use of lighting and sound and of course our own imaginations which are free to run wild, mean that it was even just the teeniest bit terrifying !!!

Acknowledging that ‘it’s hard being thirteen’, the message of friendship and working together as a team may seem obvious but enclosed within the wider wild tale it’s a triumph and one well worth remembering.

This is fast-moving, energetic and exciting storytelling at it’s very very finest…get yourself a ticket and go join in the birthday party fun (just watch out for the slug juice if you can)…

My mini reviewers says ”I liked EVERYTHING, and especially the slug – urggghhh”

Lords of Strut: The Family Show

Assembly George Square Gardens

I am not sure who was enjoying the Lords of Strut show more today – the adults or the children? but it’s fair to say this fast paced, chaotic show is entertaining for the whole family.

Proudly exclaiming they want to ‘change our lives through dance’, Irish brothers Famous Seamus and Sean-tastic lead us through an hour of brilliant break dancing, amazing acrobatics and some really rather attractive shellsuits and glittery pants! Set along to some familiar 80s tunes that got the whole audience clapping along, this show is filled with wit and charm. The rapport between the two performers is fantastic and means there is never a dull moment, and of course, the audience are required to get involved along the way too..

Sprinkled with a few surprises, (I am not sure I will ever be able to look at a teaspoon in quite the same way for a while), this silly show is sure to brighten up your afternoon.

My mini reviewer says : ”I liked their sparkly pants and when they got a new dad.”

 

Mermalade

Pleasance

Three comically crafted life sized oysters welcome us in and set the scene as they banter and argue with each other to the soundtrack of Bob Marley’s ‘Every thing’s gonna be alright’. With a small and ingenious cast, beautiful oyster costumes and effective lighting and sound effects, we are delightfully transported into their world beside the sea. Together with the oysters, we watch Mermalade- our mermaid heroine of the show discover a box, a cryptic note and a necklace with one dangling pearl. The guileless curiosity of the oysters together with the feisty determination of Mermalade, quickly draw us into the story-eager to know how she will fair on her quest for an answer that makes sense of it all.

Our heroine, whom having used her wit, modesty and cunning to elicit an answer she wants to hear, is instead left thwarted. It takes the help of the Moon, Stars, Sun, and God of Thunder to collectively open Mermalade’s eyes so that she can see the beautiful shining truth in front of her.

This intimate piece of theatre performance effortlessly weaves in the complexities of the ‘big questions in life’ (as well as the big cosmic bodies in the universe), whilst keeping the younger members of the audience amused with traditional comic interludes.

My mini reviewer says: “I liked it when the oysters were being silly and when the stars came out”.

 

 

Michael Morpurgo’s King Arthur

Gilded Balloon at the Museumkingarthurfinal_printres-21

Story Pocket Theatre brings to the festival Michael Morpurgo’s adapted novel Arthur: High King of Britain. A drowning boy is rescued by a mysterious figure who claims to be Arthur Pendragon; as the old man tells his stories, he is transported back to the heady days of Camelot, the Round Table, Merlin, the Lady of the Lake, Excalibur, Lancelot and Guinevere.

This adaptation is a strong piece of storytelling; full of depth and quality. The production is sure to delight fans of all things Arthur as well as enticing new members along the way. Action is plentiful, with a number of exciting sword fights. The fully immersed cast and clever use of set design including a realistic puppet dog and sensitive costumes in keeping with the period all work seamlessly to hold the audience -whom were captivated throughout.

There is some fairly adult content to contend with – incest and adultery are not avoided but delicately handled. The emphasis is on traditional storytelling with a lot of dialogue which could have been difficult for younger audience members if the energy and clever use of set and song had not weaved through the piece in such harmony.

Story Pocket Theatre brings this well know story to a new crowd in an engaging and passionate drama for young and old alike. Romance, action and magic- what more could you want?!

 

Morgan and West’s Utterly Spiffing Spectacular Magic Show for Kids (and Childish Grown-ups!)

Underbelly Med Quad

Dazzling and extremely dapper – this time traveling Victorian magic duo have produced a fantastic show, perfectly pitched for the whole family to enjoy.

Morgan and West are able to fully engage and captivate the audience from the moment of arrival – greeting you as you take your seats in the venue and calmly proceeding to amaze and stun you with their sleight of hand tricks and illusions. Adding into the mix a good amount of audience participation; this show is creative and clever, peppered throughout with their own brand of quick-witted and quirky humour. The dynamic between the talented duo means the show moves along at a good pace, and whilst some of the tricks may seem simple they still manage to astound.

Audible gasps of wonder and surprise from the younger members of the audience add to the enjoyment of the show, which will definitely brighten up your afternoon. Though beware – watching magic tricks is very compelling and this is one show that left me wanting to see just a little bit more…

My mini-reviewer says:     “ It was very funny and I liked West getting sprayed with water”

Nick Cope’s Family Songbook

Gilded Balloon

For a lovely melodic and gentle start to your day, it’s well worth heading along to see Nick Cope and enjoy an hour of his beautiful, funny and inventive songs…

Featuring dragons named Keith, pirates, monsters and even poo; Nick Cope’s songs are pitched perfectly for little ones and the delight was clear to see on everyone’s faces. As the audience warms up, the intimate venue becomes the perfect place to host this family performance. The stage is soon crowded with kids bopping along and joining in all the actions, and a finale in which children are invited to come up and perform with Nick Cope is spectacular ! His talents lie not only in writing these engaging songs, but also in the delivery – his understated and calm manner mean everyone feels at ease and welcome in the space.

It’s clear to see why Nick Cope has such a strong following, his acoustic folk style songs are exactly what every parent can enjoy listening to with (and even without) their children! If you’ve never heard him before, please go and check him out – you won’t be disappointed ….

My mini reviewer said : ” He’s funny- I liked it when he sang the ‘poo’ song..”

Opera Mouse

The Space@Surgeon’s hall

One very cute little mouse called Tilly and some fantastic singing make for a hugely enjoyable morning in this engaging and enthusiastic show which is a perfect introduction to the rather intimidating genre of Opera !

We meet Tilly and her brother Tommy, both extremely cute mice, but whom have very different desires when out and about in the wide world outside of their tin can home. While Tommy is fixated on cheese and his belly, Tilly has stumbled upon music and is transformative powers – she is inspired and motivated to sing and to share her new found gift with the world. However, being a mouse, she must overcome the huge obstacle of everyone being very afraid of her first…

Using brilliant puppets, that she has embellished herself, Melanie Gall takes us effortlessly through this charming production. Inviting children on stage to sing with her, she embraces the audience and also astounds them with her incredible voice.

Melodic, moving and mousey…this is a real treat for all ages.

My mini-reviewer says : ‘I liked it because I’m called Tilly and so is the mouse ! The opera singing was nice and loud’

 

Shark In The Park

Assembly

Timothy Pope is looking through his telescope….and he will no doubt impress all who come to see this show which is perfectly pitched for younger audiences and those who are familiar with a phrase or two from the extremely popular books….

From Nonsense Room Productions (Hairy Maclary and Friends), this is another foot tapping, musical delight of a show. Moving seamlessly between the three ‘Shark in the Park’ books, we are whisked through Timothy’s birthday day and night and the following windy day out. Using a simple set, featuring illustrations from the books we are transported along with Timothy and his Elvis loving dad to the park and home again with a few visitors along the way. Featuring some fun dog and crow puppets too, this show has a little bit of everything…audience participation is strongly encouraged and we clapped, sang and shouted along with cast.

This is an entertaining show for younger children and any fans of Nick Sharratt’s fun rhyming books…some serious shark spotting is of course mandatory !

My mini reviewers said : ”I liked it when Timothy Pope pretended to be sleep walking ”

”I liked it when the shark popped out…”

The Bookbinder

Pleasance

Getting lost in a good book is just the tip of the iceberg in this enchanting production from Trick of the Light Theatre. Intricate papercraft, innovative lighting and a beautifully handcrafted pop up book all add to the magic and mystery of this captivating performance…

We are greeted by the softly lit sight of the Bookbinder, fast asleep at his desk, covered with his tools and a sign reading ‘apprentice sought’…lone performer Ralph McCubbin Howell already has us intrigued. As he wakes, we are invited into this fairytale of a young boy becoming a Bookbinder’s apprentice and, being keen to showcase his talents; takes on a repair of an old and eerie book. However he finds himself short of time and forgetting to ”never do anything that cannot be undone”, his final work is flawed. Thus follows a fantastical journey into an unfamiliar world within this curious book where the apprentice must repair the gap he has caused. Using the enticing pop-up book, clever lighting, shadow puppetry and simple props we too are carried away into this far off land along with the apprentice as he struggles to restore what he has damaged.

Innovative and intimate, with superb storytelling- the attention to detail is astounding. Arrive early to get the best view of the magic unfolding before your eyes…
My mini reviewer says : ”The pop-up book was cool – and I liked the little people too..”

 

 

The Many Doors of Frank Feelbad

Pleasance at EICC

Wowsers…this is an epic piece of children’s theatre – immersive, brave, heartbreaking and emotional. It is so refreshing to see a challenging topic such as bereavement and loss being dealt with so beautifully, sensitively and ultimately gently.

On arrival, children are issued with jackets and invited by the lovable duo Gary and Barry to become ‘little locators’ for the Lose-O-Porium where we meet Lucy Lose-alot and is the place where all lost things live. It’s a pretty magical space filled with cushions and hosting a myriad of doors, cupboards and little surprises! We get to meet Frank, who is looking for his Mum, and we are invited along on his journey through ‘Castleton’ town trying to find her…featuring gorgeous puppetry, lots of interaction for everyone, some singing and a host of brilliant, vibrant characters who try to help Frank find his Mum or offer advice on the feelings of sadness and frustration Frank is experiencing following his loss.

An intimate performance and honest too; dealing with big feelings and offering powerful messages of memories and love. It is simply exquisite….do make sure you bring a tissue or two !

My mini reviewer says : ”I liked Sir Dancealot….and plucking the chicken..that was fun !”

The Snail and the Whale

Pleasance

“A tale of a snail ….with an itchy foot” Julia Donaldson fans are in for a treat this year with Tall Stories returning to the Fringe, bringing with them an adaptation of the fantastic book ‘The Snail and the Whale’..

With live violin accompaniment,the audience take their seats to get settled and the atmosphere is set – this coupled with an excellent and enchanting stage set make this watery tale extra special. Tall Stories do not just re-tell the original text, they imaginatively perform it within the context of a father heading off again to sea and reading his daughter her favourite bedtime story. In this way, a little girl’s bedroom furniture magically transforms into a humpback whale, and a small cuddly toy called ”Speedy” becomes the snail. We are whisked off on their journey,sailing round the world through a perfect ocean of words and song – and even a little bit of audience soaking interaction !! Visiting icebergs, volcanoes and then ultimately losing his way, the whale takes the tiny snail on a whole host of adventures.

With the pace of the original text lost in this creative adaptation, this performance works best for those children (and adults!) very well acquainted with the book, and consequently children who are slightly older.

Captivating, inventive storytelling along with beautiful live music and songs- its highly recommended that you climb aboard and set sail !

 

snow queen_0014_photo by steve ullathorneThe Snow Queen

Gilded Balloon at the Museum

A beautiful fairytale is retold and comes to life in this endearing production by Shanghai based Theatre Anon. It is a tale of powerful friendship and of love overcoming some immense obstacles…

A merry musical maestro helps guide us through the well loved Hans Christian Anderson story of Gerda and her best friend Kay, whom is hit in the eye with a shard of glass from a magical mirror and thus changes overnight with a frozen heart- becoming withdrawn and unfriendly. Gerda commences on an immense journey to save her friend, stopping to talk to friendly flowers, polite princesses and even revelling with ravens, robbers and reindeer along the way ! A small and talented cast are able to seamlessly transform into these colourful characters, and along with some singing and shadow puppetry have the audience completely captivated. The sight of the Snow Queen herself results in some audible gasps from the audience, clearly enchanted by her costume and presence….

Suited perhaps to older children who can appreciate this more ‘traditional’ and longer performance, it is a engaging piece of theatre, sure to inspire all who come to escape within the magic of the tale…

My mini reviewer says : ”I liked Gerda and Kay growing their roses and the lady with the pretty flower garden ”

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