Festival Kids

THE ECHO CHAMBER Underground antics 0000

Part history lesson, part scary story, this atmospheric show from En Masse Theatre is a great way to start your Fringe day. Descending down into the bowels of Edinburgh, you find yourself in one of the many caverns and passageways that run beneath the Old Town.

A brief introduction by our ‘tour guide’ tells us all about life in Auld Reekie, as Edinburgh was once known, and the horrible fate that awaited many of the occupants of these underground rooms. Cold, damp, unlit quarters that housed doomed prisoners, poor folk with nowhere else to go and bank vaults. Once deep inside, we’re left alone with the ‘ghosts’ of a family forced to live down in the Echo Chamber while they wait for their

luck to improve.

Despite the sinister setting (and be warned, if you’re afraid of the dark, this show isn’t for you) there’s a lot of humour in this site-specific play. And although it’s a shame they’ve fallen back on the cliche of the wicked stepmother, this is still an interesting tale acted with gusto. It’s also a great insight into 19th century Edinburgh, a place which, mercifully, you leave behind as you head back to daylight, and modern sanitation, above

ground. (Kelly Apter)

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Myths, music and monsters

If you were under the impression that the Scottish islands were formed by glaciers during the ice age. then think again. They're actually the humps and bumps of an ancient monster who curled his way around Scotland. Or at least that's what we're told in MlSiQfSlOtl/WO/‘lll. an exciting story re worked from legend by Stuart Paterson.

Having been released on CD and set



to a dramatic score by composer Savourna Stencnson. the tale has now been turned into a l ringe show. Stevenson's inusic forms the backdrop. while two storytellers act out the tale of a fearless i‘.(3l'(), mythical kelpie “crater horsei and the

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eponymous scary monster. But rather than try and replicate the beast onstage. the show takes a more creative approach.

'It's a piece of super-charged storytellrng.’ says Paterson. "Staged in a simple but inventive way using giant chairs and sheets. And I think that way you've got a much better chance of creating the story in a child's imagination.' (Kelly Apteri I Musical Theatre a; George Square Theatre. (562 8740. 12—25 Aug. 10.30am. 515.130 Il‘:3.:3()).


Evolutionary tales

Full of questions about the animal kingdom. two explorers set off on a journey down—ri\.ver. Along the way. they impart stories about how the leopard got his spots. the elephant got his trunk and finally. how the giraffe ended up with such an elongated neck.

Inspired by the discoveries of Charles Darwin and Rudyard Kipling's Just So tales. this is the latest in a long i!lt() of children's shows by Tall Stories

the company who brought us The Gruffafo. The Show Dragon and Them l'/rth Tt'i/i's among others.

As we've come to expect from this talented team. the acting is physrcally expresswe and strong. Else\.vhere. ho‘.'.re‘.er. it falls short of the mark. The catchy songs 'a Tall Stories trademark) are sadly missing. leaving the show lacking the dynamic pep we know and love. And at times it's Just too low-key to keep the audience fully engaged. iKelly Apteri I (I loo. 084.6 260/9511. MW (1):") Aug met 12). 3.20pm, l‘/’.:’3()-~5‘S).:3() If‘5>.:'>()i 571550;.


Fantastic feathery fun

This riotous show is the stuff of every stage manager's nightmare. When the action draws to a close. the floor is strewn with a sticky mess of flour. eggs. foam and burst balloons. Happily. the auditorium is filled with smiling children and adults making the clean-up operation well worth while.

Fed up with havrng their habitats ruined by human-induced global warming. the delegates at a bird conference decide to fight back. Lacking any man-made ammunition, the feathered friends use a far deadlier weapon to put their point across to the world poo.

Performed by a multi-talented cast all of whom can act. sing and play several instruments this is a wonderful hour of musical mayhem. A strong storyline keeps older children and adults happy. while younger ones can enjoy the sight of a trombone- playing flamingo. harp-playing penguin and a dodo on a Zimmer frame.

(Kelly Apterl I P/easance Courtyard, 556 6550. until 25 Aug, 72.500m, £8.50 (£7)


Three is the magic number

He's done it again. Andy Lawrence. stonyteller and puppet-maker extraordinaire. has created another perfect kids show. Back at the Fringe for the third year running. following the success of The King's Got Donkeys Ears and The Elves and the Shoemaker. Lawrence proves that gorng that extra mile makes all the difference.