Festival Kids

where to look. Cynical older heads might find the whole package a bit earnest and cheesy, but it’s all delivered with such infectious energy and panache that even the most stony- hearted will be bopping along to the frog chorus by the end. (Allan Radcliffe) Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 31 Aug (not 19, 20), 11am, £7.50–£8.50 (£6–£7).

IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY NIGHT Engaging storytelling for all ●●●●● Midway through telling the story of Antonio, a little boy kidnapped and held in a cave, Danya Miller hands three very chuffed looking girls in the front row some ‘precious jewels’. It’s actually just fresh air she’s giving them, but the storytelling performance is all about

letting the audience fill in the gaps with their imagination. Five minutes later, when the angry chief wants his ‘jewels’ back, the kids won’t hand them over to Miller. ‘That’s not in the script,’ she laughs,

slipping out of character for a split second.

It’s proof of how engrossed the kids

are in the show, which besides a couple of props, is made up of mime, physical theatre and character voices put on by Miller (a trained mime and improvisation artist) and Louise Coigley (a speech and language therapist). Their performance of Janet and Allan Ahlberg’s book is an old fashioned yarn, full of crocodile infested swamps, haunted castles and wild bears. Stripped back to the script, with no bells and whistles, just two captivating voices, it’s a slick, likeable show, great for firing up little imaginations. (Claire Sawers) Scottish Storytelling Centre, 556 9579, until 14 Aug, 1pm; then at Valvona & Crolla, 556 7800, Aug 15, 21 & 22, 10.30am; Aug 16–20, 1pm, £7.50 (£5).

schools and nurseries to raise awareness of bullying, Edinburgh- based Hegarty has now brought her story to the stage. The musical version is a multi-

coloured, sugar-rush of a show, where song and dance numbers, shadow puppets and glittery, neon sets create the underwater world that Crabbit causes havoc in. Hermie the Hermit Crab must learn to stand-up to his cruel cousin, and gets pep-talks from his friend, Michelle the Scallop. Stella the Starfish steals the limelight with her tap- dancing, star-jumping dance moves and camp, gossipy ways. Although the chatting-up scenes he/she (Stella is played by a man) has with Crabbit seemed to confuse a few kids, not quite clued up on cross-dressing. Carrying a nice message about being brave in the face of confidence-sapping playground demons, this energetic show, with a great panto-style baddie, also throws in cheeky asides for the parents. (Claire Sawers) Gilded Balloon Teviot, 622 6552, until 31 Aug, 12.15pm, £7–£8 (£6–£7).

FROG Amphibian tale that puts a spring in your step ●●●●●

RAPUNZEL AND THE TOWER OF DOOM Puppet king still rules the Fringe ●●●●●

Pity poor Max. He’s moving house in the morning, and is terrified of leaving behind his friends, his school and his teacher. The only thing his mother can do to reassure him is read from his favourite picture books all about a kindly, inquisitive frog and his best friends, Duck, Pig and Dog. Theater Terra’s weaving together of

several popular stories by Max Velthuijs enchants with its mix of giant-sized spongy puppets, upbeat songs and a lovely, generous-spirited message about friendship and acceptance. While the story opens quietly, with little Max alone in his bed, the quartet of performers quickly fill the space with colour, sound and movement. The inventive use of scenery and props means that a scary haunted wood is created from stacked, painted boxes, while a beautiful snowscape appears by the aid of blankets and feathers. There’s so much happening on stage

at any one time, all of it carefully choreographed, that it’s difficult to know

Each year, Bedfordshire-based storyteller and puppeteer, Andy Lawrence packs up his bag of tricks and heads to the Fringe. And each year, on arrival, he unpacks a five-star show filled with unique surprises. Happily, this year is no different. Rapunzel and the Tower of Doom follows in the beautifully-crafted

footsteps of Lawrence’s previous masterworks, The Kings Got Donkey’s Ears, Three Billy Goats Gruff and The Elves and the Shoemaker. His storytelling manner is warm and friendly, peppered with a few good jokes and some intentionally groan-worthy puns. But what really sets Lawrence apart are his sets. Using a fruit and veg market as his starting point, he has built a hugely

inventive collection of boxes, which open up to reveal all manner of people and places. Rapunzel’s family home, the witch’s garden and, of course, the tower itself are plucked from hidden pockets and folds until you start to wonder what’s going to come out next and from where?! The Rapunzel tale can easily be told in under five minutes, but Lawrence

embellishes and extends it for another fifty without any hint of padding. Re- named characters, always with a fruit or veg spin, keep the audience chuckling. As does the three-pronged approach Lawrence takes to most of the puppets, giving us a small, medium and large version (the last being Lawrence himself).

Although aimed at ages 4+, the imagination and skill which goes into the Theatre of Widdershins' sets would surely be admired by all ages. (Kelly Apter) Scottish Storytelling Centre, 556 9579, until 30 Aug (not 17, 24), 11am, £7.50 (£5).