Festival Kids PRIMARY SCHOOL MUSICAL! Singing to save the school

Faced with the potential closure of his children’s primary school, Angus Reid did all the usual things: went to meetings, met the Council and Scottish Parliament, wrote a musical. The last one on that list may seem a strange response, but as Reid says: ‘Where was the song ‘Save our School’?’ So he went off and wrote it along

with 13 other show-stopping tunes about primary school life. Meanwhile, the school fought a successful campaign to remain open, and Reid worked with pupils to create Primary School Musical!, the witty, gritty tale of a group of kids who save their school. Along the way they encounter the boy/girl divide, living with a single parent, tackling the powers that be, and a few tough kids down the road.

Once the show has been performed, Reid plans to offer it to primary schools across Scotland. ‘The attempt to close our school was nearly two years ago,’ says Reid. ‘And it has taken almost everyday since then to fashion an artistic reply. The show is edgy, funny, tender and a bit subversive. It’s a great message for every community, and a great musical for any school that has the guts to stage it.’ (Kelly Apter) The Big Red Door, Lady Lawson Street, 229 1480, 14 & 16 Aug, 7pm; 15 Aug, 2pm, £5 (£3).

GIRAFFES CAN’T DANCE Warm-hearted moral in the jungle ●●●●●

ROOM ON THE BROOM Musical storybook adaptation hits the right note ●●●●●

The coming together of Tall Stories theatre company and children’s author Julia Donaldson has already proved itself to be a winning formula, with the hugely popular Gruffalo and Gruffalo’s Child. There’s no obvious route for taking Donaldson’s enjoyable but relatively short stories and elongating them for the stage, but Tall Stories always seem to find the most imaginative way possible. The tale of a generous witch, who runs into trouble when she invites too

many new friends onto her broomstick, Room on the Broom is arguably one of Donaldson’s finest storybooks. So it’s no surprise that the witchy tale has turned out to be Tall Stories’ finest hour to date too.

It’s also their most ambitious, forcing the company to upgrade venues to

one of the Pleasance’s largest spaces. Not only does the stage have to incorporate a witch, her cat, a frog, dog, bird and dragon, but a large set and, to quote the script, a ‘truly magnificent broom’. Yet once again, the true secret to Tall Stories’ success lies with its talented team. All the factors come together: superb character actors, fantastically catchy songs, astute direction and some very cute puppets. Donaldson’s words find their way into the script, enabling young

audiences to hear the lines they know so well. But wrapped around them are witty one-liners, lively storytelling and a fleshing out of the characters that allows us to really get to know, and care about, them. A truly theatrical feast that leaves both adults and children fully entertained. (Kelly Apter) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 19, 20), 2.30pm, £8.50–£9.50 (£7.50–£8.50).

BURGLAR BILL Winning adaptation of kids’ classic ●●●●● This stage re-imagining of Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s much-loved illustrated fable, by Pandora’s Box theatre company, retains the offbeat humour and otherworldly atmosphere of the

Most children’s theatre companies endeavor to make their young audiences feel at home but Blunderbus always seems to go the extra mile. From the moment you enter the theatre, you feel welcomed. And, as the show unfolds, the cast regularly spill out into the auditorium, allowing children to get up-close and personal with an array of wonderful puppets.

Giles Andreae’s well-loved storybook, Giraffes Can’t Dance is populated by a wealth of colourful creatures lions, crickets, meerkats, some incredibly cheeky monkeys and, of course, the eponymous long- necked fellow, Gerald. Using energetic storytelling, puppetry and a smattering

of beautifully sung songs, Andreae’s tale of a clumsy, forlorn giraffe who learns to dance comes to life. The underlying moral, of doing things your own way, regardless of external criticism is subtly delivered but clearly received (‘just ignore them’ shouted one tiny girl, when two mean lions lay into Gerald’s maverick approach to movement). The Blunderbus team consider all-

comers, with children enthralled by the action, and accompanying adults chortling at the witty adlibs from this friendly and likeable company. (Kelly Apter) The Space @ Royal College of Surgeons, 0845 508 8515, until 29 Aug (not 16), 10.35am (9, 23, 2.35pm), £7 (£6).


original, while throwing in plenty of opportunities for audience interaction. As jovial, serial tea-leaf Burglar Bill

embarks on his night’s work, stealing everything from toothbrushes to cans of baked beans, and even a basket containing a baby, the two-strong cast create an entire swag bag’s worth of engaging larger-than-life characters, with brightly-coloured costumes and a nifty black-and-white striped set to match. As in the book, the moral that crime

doesn’t pay comes across loud and clear without being too preachy and condescending. The songs are catchy and easy to sing along and perform the actions to, and while there are plenty of slapstick moments for the wee ones to giggle at, there’s a smattering of humour pitched at wrinklies too. (Allan Radcliffe) Pleasance Dome, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 18, 25), 2.30pm, £7–£8 (£6–£7).

ANDY AND MIKE’S . . . BIG BOX OF BANANAS Fun and frolics in the fun pad

The power of children’s TV was always going to ensure that CBeebies presenter Andy Day found an audience at the Fringe and a big one at that. What’s pleasing, therefore, is that it’s thoroughly deserved. Day and his partner in silliness, Mike James have created an hour of off-beat mayhem that would appeal to pretty much any age. Finding a large box in their ‘fun pad’,

the guys set off on a journey to uncover the password which will enable them to open it, entrusting us, the audience, as house sitters while they’re gone. We’re also charged with monitoring their dreams which become increasingly bonkers as the show progresses in the hope of finding said password within them. And, of course, anything can happen

in a dream giving the duo license to turn the daftness up a level by dressing as air hostesses, pirates and contestants on ‘Ocean’s Got Talent’, an underwater TV show. The show’s structure may appear hap-hazard, but the duo’s rapport with the audience, witty dialogue, energy and drive is right on the money. (Kelly Apter) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 23 Aug, 12.50pm, £8 (£6).

CRABBIT THE MUSICAL Multi-coloured sugar rush of a show ●●●●● When the UK charity Beatbullying first read Julie Hegarty’s book Crabbit Comes to Stay, about a bully who makes everyone’s life a misery when he pays his shy cousin a visit, they asked Hegarty to be their Scottish patron. After doing book readings in primary