Reviews 2019

All reviews written by Lizzy Treacy, unless otherwise stated.

360 Allstars

Assembly

Featuring brilliant basketball tricks, impressive breakdancing, spectacular roue cyr wheel and live beat-boxing – this show has something for everyone ! A jam packed hour of talented performers showing off their skills!

Right from the beginning, the performers are bounding on stage, bursting with energy and infectious enthusiasm. A live, loud soundtrack keeps up this momentum whilst we see incredible choreography with all things that spin ! Humour is expertly added into the mix as the performers challenge each other, get the audience screaming for more and use the whole stage as their playground. Each individual is world class in his field, and a graceful, elegant cyr wheel performance slips effortlessly into a high-octane medley of breakdancing, back flips, and juggling- proving why these guys are outstanding at what they do.

Exhilaratingly, energetically awesome….this innovative show leaves you with a huge smile on your face and eager to see just a little bit more!

My mini reviewers said :   “..I liked the bit where they were playing the game – dancing against each other..”

“…the music was very very loud and vibrating off me….it was fantastic and entertaining. My favourite part was when they all went inside the spotlight in the hoop.”

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Akala – In Conversation – Natives: Race and Class in the Ruins of Empire

Gilded Baloon

As anyone who has watched Akala on TV or You Tube knows, he talks rapidly and makes quick astute links to the present and past state of racism, effects of colonialism and growing up black and under-privileged in the UK. Again and again hitting the nail on the head with his brilliant analyses. This was like that too, but this time there was an imperative for him to hurtle through an explanation of his new book – “Natives: Race and Class in The Ruins of Empire” – from beginning to end, aided by powerpoint slides, leaving space at the end for the audience to ask questions.

The show started slightly late which meant there seemed to be an even greater sense of urgency for Akala to get through all his material fast -covering issues from Caribbean culture and democracy, to racism in London schools and the injustices and privileged assumptions behind the legacy of empire. He was brilliant, and it was fantastic to see such an iconic speaker of our time on stage. It’s just a shame it all felt a bit rushed

Our 15 year old reviewer said, “What an amazing speaker, liked hearing about his childhood. He talked about so many interesting issues, found it hard to keep up sometimes though!”

(Toni Dickson)

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Annie Jr

The Space

If you’re an Annie fan you will love this show. A full Edinburgh cast of children bring it to life in an endearing, faithful rendering of the story.

The venue was full to the brim – with many of the audience made up of adults. I believe that, far from being the parents and relatives one might have expected, they were in fact genuine Annie fans – the whole line in front of us were holding hands and singing along!

The choreography is great with Annie adorned by an enthusiastic curly red haired wig and hitting almost all the high notes. The orphans are particularly convincing as a wonderful bunch of raggled taggled children of varied ages, sizes and characters. The adults in the show are all played by some of the slightly older children with accents varying from classic Edinburgh to a quite convincing NYC.

My three year old loved the finale piece ‘Tomorrow’, singing along with the full ensemble and most of the audience.

Edinburgh Youth Theatre deliver kids and youth theatre training all year round with courses, weekly classes and summer camps. This popular production can be seen as a great success for a leading theatre group in Scotland.

(Katch Holmes)

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Blizzard

Assembly

Flip Fabrique have returned to the festival and once again we were left awestruck and giddy ….

Blizzard is the perfect combination of breathtaking acrobatics coupled with moments of complete silliness that generate ripples of laughter and gasps of amazement in equal measures. This infectious playfulness is something I love about this circus company and something which is greatly appealing for children. Watching performers having stacks of fun doing something they are truly passionate about is a total treat for everyone involved. Snow ball fights, hula hooping, giant trampolines, evocative live piano, stunning aerial performances and much more are squeezed into this hour of absolute joy !

The beauty, wonder and frivolity of winter are explored in this stunning piece – wrap up warm and go and immerse yourself too….

My mini reviewers say : ‘‘Everyone should see this show, I loved all of the stunts – they were super, super breathtaking..”

”..I liked the giant trampoline – that was coooool….”

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Bubble show: Milkshake and the Winter Bubble

Gilded Baloon

Big bubbles, small bubbles, square bubbles, smoke bubbles … no bubble is left unturned in this show! Bubble show had a great mix of puppetry, storytelling and, funnily enough, bubbles. The show followed the heart warming story of ‘The little matchstick girl’, and every audience member had the opportunity to take a print out of this story home with them which was a lovely touch. The big pull at the end was the opportunity for each child to get a photograph of themselves inside their own bubble! This is a pretty unique keepsake to take away from a fringe show, but be prepared to stand in a queue if it is something your little one wants as it was obviously popular with most of the kids there! 

I think it is probably worth pointing out that, in my opinion, Bubble show is probably more suitable for older children than my 1 year old (maybe 3 years and up would be a more appropriate age), as my wee one struggled to stay engaged throughout and it felt like there were a few other mums in the same boat. That being said, the finale was very impressive for all ages and it ended on a big high!

(Emma May)

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Comete

Assembly

If you’re looking for an energetic start to your morning – then this is the show for you ! An early morning rock gig, where the kids can dance their socks off and half the adults seemed to be nursing a coffee….

Comete has energy, enthusiasm and loud music in abundance. For me it lacked enough covers for the children (or myself!) to really get involved and sing along – but the extremely talented musicians on stage did their best – teaching us lyrics and encouraging clapping, dancing and jumping along whilst they entertained us. For any budding musicians out there, this production is all the inspiration they need !

A perfect introduction to a gig for children, I cannot imagine any child watching Comete and managing to sit still ! The early start is totally worth it….

My mini reviewers said:  “..it was brilliant, very good music – it totally woke me up!”

”..I liked the drummer and being able to dance was cool too ..”

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Dexter and Winter’s Detective Agency

Roundabout -Summerhall

Dexter and Winter are very best friends, with a special hand shake and everything; but their world gets abruptly turned upside down when Dexter’s Mum is arrested for a jewellery theft; leaving the two determined ten-year-olds on a mission to prove her innocence.

Paines Plough once again bring their incredibly dynamic storytelling to the awesome Roundabout venue, using the circular space to it’s full effect -so it becomes anything from a theme park, to a karaoke session and even a trampoline centre! While Dexter and Winter dance, jump and bound around, looking for clues in their investigation – Charlotte Bate plays the myriad of characters they meet along the way -accents and minimal props distinguish each one and it is seriously impressive. The energy, enthusiasm and curiosity of a childhood adventure are perfectly embodied by Dexter and Winter’s characters, and we collectively feel their weight of confusion when reality isn’t quite as they predicted.

Immersive, imaginative and enjoyably interactive…it is highly recommended you grab your binoculars and disguises and join the detective agency fun!

My mini reviewers said : “ ..I liked Granny Annie – the story was engaging and made me laugh..”

“ It was amazing and I was surprised by the plot twist…”

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Elements of Freestyle

Pleasance

High-octane, energetic and seriously awesome….there is so much impressive talent squeezed into this one hour, that at times it was difficult to take it all in !

The skateboarding, in-line skating, bmx riding, breakdancing, basketball and parkour are accompanied by an incredible live music soundtrack with two musicians on stage playing violin and cello – this was an unexpected added highlight ! The performers moved with grace and exquisite choreography, making this much more of a dance piece than them simply achieving tricks. Dramatic pieces of equipment add to the visual beauty of the piece when all the cast are simultaneously on stage, skating, swinging or jumping across it, and I appreciated the minimal colourscape too.

Skillful, spectacular and visually stunning, the ability to combine such dynamic urban arts and create something so captivating is truly inspiring.

My mini reviewers said : “ I liked the wheels when they lit up….”

“My favourite bit was when they brought the trampoline in…and the ramps…”

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Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo

Underbelly

All young dinosaur lovers will enjoy a visit to this show – part palaeontology lesson and the rest marvelling at the incredible puppetry and realistic dinosaurs you see before you…

Whispers of ‘are they real??’, (our mini reviewer included), are testament to how amazingly life-like these dinosaurs really are !! This somewhat slow-paced production is more of a dinosaur lesson than a show, so come prepared for that. We are however treated to facts, history and loads more; the presentation is lively and engaging – plenty of audience participation means the children are delighted and as the dinosaurs get progressively larger – from babies up – the attention in the hall is ever more focussed.

Informative, interactive and hugely impressive – something that dino fans big and small will enjoy!

My mini reviewers said : ”…the t-rex was great, and the giant tooth was amazing…”

”..there were interesting facts, and the baby triceratops was super cute – I wanted to cuddle it !”

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Flamenco for Kids

C Venues

Flamenco for Kids is a wonderfully interactive show/ workshop where children get a chance to learn some simple flamenco dance moves, dress up and dance with the flamenco dancer on the stage. Unlike some kids shows might, this show does not compromise on artistic quality, featuring Ricardo Garcia on guitar and fully decked out flamenco dancer Miriam, direct from Spain. Both are excellent performers and they demonstrate this at the beginning of the show with a short guitar and dance demonstration. Its then straight into having all the children up to learn some moves.

Miriam was a wonderful teacher who clearly really enjoyed interacting with the small children. After practising some simple moves all the kids got dressed up and performed with costumes on. 45 minutes went by very quickly and most children, including my 3 year old, were very engaged. You can’t please everyone, however there was no judgement on little ones that weren’t taking part!

An excellent photo opportunity and I have to say, a great advert for the full flamenco show, I’d say this show is perfect for 4 to 6 year olds who love to dance and dress up.

(Katch Holmes)

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Fox- tot!

The Edinburgh Academy

If you are looking for a beautiful multi sensory musical experience for your baby, where they have the freedom to walk/crawl amongst the set, then this is the show for you! The thought and detail that went into creating Fox -Tot! is clear from the offset. The actors, musicians and singers were all set at ground level, interacting unobtrusively with the audience, and there are additional small details like tree cross-section cushions to sit on and thousands of beautifully coloured autumnal leaves to play with. As soon as the music and singing began, my little one was mesmerised. I was initially worried that as he had only just turned one he may be a little young for the show, however he loved every second of it and was entranced the whole way through. The musical score was a wonderful and gentle introduction to opera for tiny ears and the story struck the right balance of simple yet imaginative, perfect for its target audience.

Throughout the performance parts of the set came alive or were taken apart and brought out for the children to touch or play with. There was also a lovely opportunity at the end for little ones to play with all of the sensory props, as well as meet the characters from the story and parents to take photos.

Apparently this was only the second time Fox -Tot! had been performed to a paying audience, with the first one being earlier that day, but you would never have guessed as it was all performed so naturally and without a hitch.

My mini reviewer and I would definitely recommend taking the extra walk away from fringe madness in the city centre and immersing yourself in the magical world of Fox- Tot! 

(Emma May)

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Hotel Paradiso

Underbelly Circus Hub

It’s extremely hard to combine a coherent story and exciting circus acts all within one show, but Lost In Translation manage this with ease…

We are ushered in and immediately welcomed to this quirky hotel…the charming concierge busies himself introducing us to the eclectic staff, the owner Madame and with narrating this sprightly tale. Whilst Madame and her staff are scuttling around, trying to come up with enough money to avoid being evicted – we are treated to delightful displays of juggling, acrobatics, shadow play, hula hooping and much more. Pitched for children and families, this show performs at a slightly slower pace than I might have liked, but my mini- reviewers said it was perfectly awesome !

Bold, bustling and bighearted, we thoroughly recommend you pack your bags and enjoy your stay!

My mini-reviewers said : “I liked it when the lady was stuck on the chandelier and doing super cool tricks.”

I enjoyed the bit at the end when they were passing the case to each other…”

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How To Be Brave

Summerhall

Watching Sian Owen managing the in-the round stage, as well as holding the space all by herself for an hour was both dizzying and awe-inspiring.

The play touches on many themes; the need to look both back and forward through the generations to seek our strength; the trauma that comes from bullying and lasts into our own adult/parenthood; the kindness of community and the terror that comes from mothering -the fear of the damage that one may or may not do. Sian Owen was amazing, and is clearly very talented, though sometimes the humour seemed a bit too buoyant for the chaos that the character was going through. The script was funny and thoroughly enjoyable but at times didn’t reflect the reality of the characters nervous breakdown. Overall though, a great one woman piece of theatre that holds your attention all the way through.

Here’s what the young reviewers had to say:

12 year old Eden, 4 out of 5 stars : “I was crying and laughing at the same time the whole way through. I enjoyed this immensely”

15 year old Jack, 4.5 out of 5 starts: “How to be brave is witty and full of emotion and full of character all the way. Every moment has a feeling. It is a constantly evolving story told by a constantly evolving character”.

(Toni Dickson)

 

I Piano

Pianodrome

If you want a break from the loud shoutiness of the frenetic Fringe, here is your antedote! Upon entering the delightfully quirky and truly intimate theatre of the Pianodrome, (the world’s first amphitheature made solely out of pianos, a magnificent sight in itself to check out), you are immediately plunged into an enchanted world where anything is possible.

As the lights dim, a sleeping figure hidden underneath a grand piano, begins to stir. We discover he is the spirit of the piano, but something is wrong! “I Piano” has lost it’s music! The fun starts as Piano and his companion a little girl, invite the audience to join them as they set off on a magical adventure in search of the music.

Through charming and mesmerising shadow puppetry, together with exceptionally talented musical accompaniments, any audience big or small will be won over by this engaging and unexpected story telling. The deceptively simple cast of two, skilfully draw us into lands inhabited by flamboyant characters who help in the search for the missing music, which children in the audience shape with their suggestions. A musical carrot and an ink squirting octopus are part of the eclectic cast. You will be swept away by their charm and ingenuity backed by familiar classical favourites.

Subtle and appealing, this calming and gentle show succeeded in winning the children’s attention. It will appeal to children from 4 – 94. Full of musicality and vitality this is a little gem; and is very highly recommended. Grab it now, ends Sunday!

My Mini reviewers said, “I liked it when Piano disappeared; that was funny’               “I liked the shadow puppets”.

(Fenella Hodgson)

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Knock Knock

Assembly Roxy

This is a charming piece of theatre for family audiences. Knock Knock combines beautiful touches of physical theatre, clown, mask and synchronised routines to tell the story of a woodcutter, Harris and a botanist Pepper. Awaiting the start of the show I marvel at the elaborate and beautifully made set; a forest and a cottage share the stage evocative of a fairy-tale world. Although a deep earth magic is beautifully suggested through in a Green Man carved in an old oak tree who receives the characters offerings or fairies lighting up the night, this story centres around human relationships.

We meet the delightful Harris, sporting a truly fantastic beard, and Pepper a passionate collector of plants. The performers have a lovely connection with the audience throughout with expressive faces and direct eye contact. The story follows their burgeoning relationship from meeting to falling in love to marriage. But social expectations and gender roles as husband and wife soon put pressure on their new relationship which begins to unravel.

The company, Hot Coals, have developed a unique visual and inclusive style; with a musical soundtrack but no words the piece is classified as d/deaf accessible. But in fact it is accessible and welcoming for all audiences. My favourite moments are the simple, comedic routines which are classically clown, like failing to find each other as they walk around a tree. That however is just one of the beautifully sweet moments you’ll find in this show. This is visual feast that will tug at your heartstrings.

My mini-reviewer said : “I liked it when it rained rice from a watering can.”

(Robyn Hambrook)

 

LE COUP

Underbelly Circus Hub

I usually find circus is much more atmospheric when there is a live band playing and this is no exception. As you walk into the space the music alongside the performers interacting in the audience with sideshow tricks draws you into what feels like an edgy circus cabaret.

This show is centred around these eccentric characters going head to head in rounds, with interludes from the superb band who add in other dark and kooky elements. The level of acrobatics and aerial tricks is excellent. The level of trust they display with each other especially in the final piece is edge of the seat stuff.

The characters manage to engage with the crowd to varying degrees and we especially liked the facial antics of the Ugly Hungarian. Some elements of the performance are perhaps not so polished as other circus acts in the fringe but the combination of physical feats and excellent music throughout this show make this a fantastic way to spend an hour.

Our 13 yr old reviewer said, “Those people on stage were exactly who I want to be. Loved it!”

(Toni Dickson)

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Little Top

Pleasance at EICC

This is probably my favourite baby show of the fringe so far!  After gathering in a pre-show room to take off shoes and leave all of your belongings in a safe space, we were lead through to a magical, beautifully recreated circus tent. Babies and parents were asked to sit on the floor around the perimeter of the performance space allowing for wonderfully natural interactions between the performers and babies throughout the show. Little Top had a gentle mix of juggling, acrobatics, yo yoing, tumbling and physical theatre perfectly targeted for 0 – 18 months, but don’t let that fool you as it is equally engaging for adults! All the performers in this show were incredibly talented and obviously very experienced working with babies as they played upon their reactions throughout.

At the end of the show, various circus props used were brought out for little ones to play with and interact with the performers. My mini reviewer had to almost be dragged away as he played with one of the jugglers who was so captivating and patient with him. I would definitely recommend heading to the Pleasance at EICC to see Little Top, and even take some time at the end to enjoy a coffee in the super baby friendly cafe afterwards.

(Emma May)

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Moon Dragon Babies For Under 1s

Pleasance

When it comes to interactive, sensory baby shows, Moon Dragon ticks all the boxes! With everything from singalongs and music making, to a giant blanket fort filled with magical light up wands and glowing stars. On arrival we were greeted by relaxing harp music, a gorgeous dragon puppet curled up asleep on stage, and a sensory bag full of surprises for our wee one to explore during the performance. One thing I do have to warn you about this show however, is that you will be humming all the songs for days to come! 

Our little reviewer loved Moon Dragon, especially the chance to play his tambourine and clap along to all the music. The musicians and puppeteers have beautiful voices and were so engaging to watch, not to mention the extra special dragon, unicorn and frog puppets which wee ones have the opportunity to get up close to. 

I would definitely recommend getting to this show in good time to get a space on the floor at the front as being close to the action made our experience all the more magical.

(Emma May)

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Moon Dragon for 5 and Under

Pleasance

This highly interactive show is run by the same team as behind the popular Edinburgh music classes Monkey Music. Like the classes, the show is theatrical, full of song, interactive music opportunities and fun props for the children to play and engage with throughout.

Moon Dragon is a puppet who sleeps, wakes, is joined by his unicorn and frog friends and then eventually by the moon. All characters sing their way through the show accompanied by Corina on harp ,with the audience given a chance to lend their own voices. The original, live music is a treat, where the majority of children’s shows have recorded music.

Rachael and her young sidekick, who is particularly popular with the children, do a great job keeping their audience entertained throughout. The energy and enthusiasm that all three characters have for the performance and their young audience shine through – plus flashing lights, starlit canopies, wings and maracas (spoiler) never fail to engage the little ones in my experience!

A well spent morning for smaller ones.

(Katch Holmes)

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Morgan and West : Unbelievable Science

Assembly

We are huge fans of Morgan and West and were therefore delighted they’ve returned to the fringe this year, branching out and spreading their unique Victorian charm to all things science…

Colourless liquids transform before our eyes, optical illusions dumbfound us, heads are able to grow and shrink and the humble atom is given centre stage. Science is made ever more appealing and engaging when delivered by this dynamic duo, all presented with the slightest touch of their usual trickery, so we are left suitably bewildered with what we are observing. My curious young science fans were instantly enthralled, and I’ll admit I’ve never seen gravitational forces explained quite so spectacularly !

Best enjoyed by slightly older children, this is informative and fun – definitely educational entertainment at it’s very finest …

My mini reviewers said:  “..I liked the experiments with the liquids at the beginning – it was super cool – all the colours and the fire..”

“..I liked the electricity bit and the potion that glowed in the dark..”

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Mustard Doesn’t Go With Girls

Pleasance

In this whirlwind of a musical, mystery adventure, we discover ‘there is no place like home – or is there ?’..not when you live in the town of Bow-On-Tie and the Cabinet is made up of animals with a rather villainous Crocodile as Mayor, ….(sorry, I should be calling her Croc Madam…)..

Bric a Brac theatre have brought us this delight of a show, where we follow the quest of Abigail, (who harbours dreams of becoming a rocket scientist), and her best friend (who would rather no one found out he is a skilled baker) to solve the riddle of the disappearing children who were last seen entering detention. In Bow-on Tie you see, boys and girls cannot be friends, fairy tales are studied at school, everyone must absolutely stick to the rules, and that is how it must be.

Abigail however, is not just going to sit about and let this happen and she sets out to prove that a girl can indeed save the day ! A hugely talented cast whisk us along on this inspiring investigation, fully engaging the audience with their colourful characters, brilliant songs, touches of humour and just enough menace to keep us all on our toes ! The intimate venue works fantastically for this production, involving us all in the action and enabling the performers to weave through the audience and get up close and personal !

With the ultimately uplifting message of we should be free to be whoever we want to be, this warming, witty and melodic show is not to be missed….

My mini reviewers said : “..I didn’t like it – I LOVED it..”

..I liked Croc Madam – she was scary…”

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Ogg ‘n’ Ugg ‘n’ Dogg

GIlded Baloon

This show starts out informing us all that the two main characters Ogg and Ugg are not cavemen but hunter gatherers. Despite ‘primitivizing’ hunter gatherers this does give Ogg and Ugg lots of opportunities to discuss food, collecting mushrooms, battling with snakes and asking the audience what their favourite foods are.

The wolf is a motif that children are both fascinated and scared by so it is a clever choice for a show. The wolves gradually become less scary through the show as we see things from their perspective. They become allies with Ogg and Ugg and eventually have doglike puppies. Though not all the children are convinced, by the end most are happy to stroke both the wolf parents and domesticated dog puppies.

The two characters are very engaging. Good songs (and singing), wolf puppets, enthusiasm, lots of chances for children to come onto the stage and good use of lighting liven up the relatively simple set and keep the young audience interested throughout.

The show doesn’t earn educational points for factual accuracy however I’m sure that won’t bother most children. I can’t see many not enjoying this friendly, well meaning, heart-warming show.

A simple message from my 3 year old: ‘I like the wolves’!

(Katch Holmes)

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One Duck Down

Pleasance

“With enough love in your heart, anything can happen…” so says the cheerful Billie as he sets sail on a quest to find all 7000 rubber ducks spilt from a capsized cargo ship in order to win Cecilia’s heart….

And so this delightful seafaring tale begins….Billie meets a host of colourful and creative friends on the way – a huge whale with a digestive problem, nip-nipping crabs on a island of rubbish, a rock and roll loving polar bear and some pirates in training. Each charismatic character is adorned with rubbish, their costumes imaginatively upcycled from our everyday waste. Upbeat songs and plenty of jokes enhance this production with an important message at it’s core – the seas are full of plastic and it certainly isn’t fantastic !

Captivating and charming, this endearing nautical adventure is sure to inspire….

My mini reviewers said : “It was a good story; funny, sad and happy in some places and it taught us to care for the oceans..”

I liked the pirates in training – they were funny..”

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Rocket girl

Underbelly

What do you want to be when you grow up ?….Maisie knows, she wants to be an astronaut…the year is 1969 and she is going to be the first woman to walk on the moon…

Rocket Girl is a hugely captivating, emotional piece of puppetry and theatre – Maisie expertly comes alive in the hands of the cast and takes us along on her space themed adventure. The physicality of the performers is mesmerising and they worked fluidly together to create underground mines, cosmic journeys, cruel playground taunts and even a bug jungle! At the heart of the piece are the relationships that surround Maisie – with her loving father, her rather stern Aunt, unkind school peers and finally an unlikely friendship with a budding entomologist. Maisie encourages us to be ourselves, push against boundaries and follow our dreams…whatever they may be.

Sprinkled with details about space, this emotive piece will surely inspire and motivate all those who strap themselves in and prepare for take off….

My mini reviewers said : “It was great when Maisie made a friend and they explored all the bugs…”

I liked it when Maisie and her Dad were on the rockets…”

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Sparkle

Summerhall

A gentle, heart warming start to anyone’s morning this Fringe ! Sparkle delights in all the right places – leading us through the emotional highs and lows of self expression and identity…

Sparkle loves his tutus, his twinkly shoes, his glittery notebook and, more than anything, his pet caterpillar Gerald. The first day of school is always a mixture of excitement and nerves, and while Sparkle is determined to spread his glitter and magic amongst his new friends, others are anxious – watching from afar to see how the days will unfold. Sparkle forms brilliant first friendships but also faces confusing discrimination and anger. Inventive puppetry, limited dialogue and simple props help the story to unfold at a perfect pace for a younger audience -allowing children to explore their response to some of the difficult themes and share in the ultimate joy and celebration.

Weaving messages of embracing our inner selves, respecting others and the importance of friendship – this show is sure to add a little bit of sparkle into our lives…

My Mini reviewers say :      ”..they expressed the story really well and I liked how they interacted with the audience too..

 I liked when Sparkle did his show and when we looked through the telescope to see the school in the tent – oh, and I liked Gerald too !

 

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The Showstoppers’ Kids Show

Pleasance

No trip to see The Showstoppers will ever be the same, and that is part of the magic they inspire…

Songs about mathematics, people being flushed down the toilet, trips to Diagon Alley and saying our goodbyes to a dying worm – it must be exhausting to be a Showstopper contending with everything that can be hiding in a child’s imagination on a daily basis! But they embrace it all willingly, melodically and with stacks of humour. These guys are the champions of improvisation, and know just how to hit the right notes with the children and adults in the audience alike. Plenty of participation keeps everyone engaged and I’m amazed at how many ideas can be squeezed into just one show !!

Creative, colourful and captivating – be sure to get yourself a ticket and see where the daily myriad of adventures will take you along for the ride…

My mini reviewers said : “….I liked it when they got flushed down the toilet…”

“It’s really nice how they involve you and you can pick the story.”

 

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Splash Test Dummies

Underbelly

We have a confession to make – this is not the first time we’ve seen the Splash Test Dummies, and we definitely hope it won’t be the last !!!! We are super fans as they are super fantastically awesome…

Returning with their aquatic themed adventure, the fun literally starts as you are welcomed into the venue by the goofy lifeguarding trio. Whether it’s giant beach volleyball, slow motion lifesaving, seriously impressive synchronised unicycle-swimming (that’s a legitimate thing right ?) or a ludicrous bath time number, the Dummies are drowning with talent. Acrobatics, juggling, slapstick and hoop work is all made to look effortless…..the interactions with the crowd ensure constant, hysterical giggling and I’m not sure my mini-reviewers ever got much time to take a breath ! There are very few shows that both children and adults will come out of, equally entertained and delighted – I can honestly say this is one of them.

Grab your towel, grab the family and join in the splash-tastic fun before it’s too late….

My mini-reviewers said : “.I laughed soooooooooooooooooo much, bath time was the best…”

“..I liked the life-saving bit with the slow-motion…it was awesome!..”

The Listies: Ickypedia

Pleasance

The Listies are snot-tastically fantastic! They have perfected making children laugh, and what is even better is that they make all the adults laugh too! If there is only one show you manage to make it to with your kids at this year’s fringe – it has to be this one….

Ickypedia is an hour of seriously silly, messy fun which attempts to answer some of life’s unimportant questions along the way. Rich and Matt take us on a whirlwind journey through a ‘werld of werds’, they song-splain anything we may not be familiar with, entertain us with a little banana drama and obviously squeeze in a quick list for old time’s sake. Whilst Rich and Matt use tricks of the trade to get the kids extra excited – water pistols, bubbles, silly string – these are all simply accessories to their incredible quick wit and rapport – which has us in stitches throughout – my stomach actually hurt from laughing so much by the end of it!

Our only complaint ? An hour is way too short……

My mini reviewers said : “…absolutely hilarious..the combined words were really funny, This is the BEST show ever at the fringe for kids..”

…so fantastically awesome…five thousand stars”

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Tom Brace: Brace of Spades

Pleasance

I feel like we were treated to a sneak preview of this fabulous show, when Tom impressed us with various tricks whilst he was out flyering….and I’m so very glad he did..

This is a magic show well worth seeing- infact it’s much more than just magic as Tom is such an excellent entertainer too! We were kept amused and bewildered by the array of creative magic squeezed into this show – everything from mind-reading, game-show style astounding card tricks, sleight of hand and a personal highlight – staple-gun Russian roulette!! Tom delivers it all in his hugely charismatic style, keeping the pace and the jokes flowing, so everyone stays engaged…

Audience participation is of course mandatory, and enhanced the show when you could watch the astonishment on people’s faces up on stage !! We would highly recommend you get along and check it out for yourselves…

My mini-reviewers said : “I have no idea how he did the staple-gun trick…it was super amazing.”

The guy on the phone to his Dad was funny…”

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Troll

Summerhall

Trick of The Light Theatre have brought their intricate magic to the fringe once again with this captivating, atmospheric fairy tale which is just ever so slightly scary….

Otto is 12, but likes to say he’s 13, he has recently moved home, and as we slowly discover, he is nursing his loneliness at school by spending time on chatrooms in the very middle of the night. One night however, he hears something that certainly isn’t a possum…..

We are instantly immersed in the story, and whisked away on this tale of an unlikely friendship between Otto and his Icelandic grandmother, who most definitely believes in trolls. This intriguing production explores the monsters that we may all be fighting within and the places we find support to tackle them. Computer cables become alive, smart phones are used to create cities on the walls and imaginative use of lighting and shadows means we are all fully engaged.

Blending the mythological and technological worlds seamlessly, with welcome touches of humour, Troll is definitely a story worth settling in for….

My mini reviewer said : ”..it was nerve gripping, sad and happy – I felt all of the emotions – it was epic..”

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Valentina’s Galaxy 

Royal Botanical Garden

This show takes as its starting point the first woman in space in 1963 – a Russian cosmonaut named Valentina. Which was probably news to much of the adult audience, let alone the kids. Actually it could be considered to be as much about the power of the imagination and a lesson in how to dream.

The show is set in a beautifully colourful kitchen, set with an equally colourful young lady. She seems to be very excited over a party she is throwing and while she is waiting for her guests she tells us about the first woman in space and shows us real footage on her 60s style TV. One by one her guests phone and cancel and it is then that her imaginary friend, the cosmonaut and dancer Maria, becomes more than imaginary. Maria joins the room in a dramatic way, from behind a chair whilst the girl’s back is turned, and soon disappears, but slowly becomes part of the action, returning to dance with the girl, take her to the moon and assuage her loneliness perhaps.

Though the story itself is a bit disjointed or non existent, it doesn’t really matter, as the music, set and props are so imaginative and beautiful. Surprises like smoke coming out the oven where burnt muffins transpire as meteorites and later a beautiful moment when Maria plucks the moon from the washing machine and dances through the crowd with it, more than make up for gaps in the plotline.

Always hard to know how much the little ones take from these shows but my 3 year old reviewer ‘liked the lady going to the moon’ so she clearly picked up on this positive message.

(Katch Holmes)

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