P H O T O :



THE SNOW QUEEN Hans Christian Andersen tale brought to life ●●●●● HEAD IN THE CLOUDS A hands-on early-years tale ●●●●●

Hans Christian Andersen’s tale gets a musical, child-friendly adaptation from Shanghai-based theatre company, Theatre Anon. Like the original fairytale, where a boy gets a shard of glass from a magic mirror in his heart, and becomes cold and nasty overnight, the story revolves around that very old chestnut: the battle between good and evil.

But as well known as the fairytale and that age-old

struggle is, the skilled company (directed by Arran R Hawkins who brought the Nina Simone-inspired Black is the Color of My Voice to the Fringe last year) create something fresh and entertaining. When Kay disappears with the Snow Queen, his friend Gerda becomes obsessed with finding him, and thawing out his frozen heart again. On her journey she bumps into squawking foreign language ravens, an enchanted bunch of flowers, a princess who rings loud bells of Miranda Richardson’s Queen in Blackadder, and a streetwise robber girl, who loans Gerda her pet reindeer to travel to Lapland. Watching the versatile cast morph from grumpy Americans to cosseting old Scandinavian women is good fun, and the live music makes for a nicely rounded, high quality show. (Claire Sawers) Gilded Balloon at the Museum, 622 6552, until 29 Aug, 1pm, £9–£10 (£7–£8).

Cirrus the dog has a serious job to do in Ipdip’s clever early-years show, minding the sheep of his flock. An easy job, given that there are only three of them. Easy, that is, until Yan, Tan and Tethera decide to float away to play among the clouds. Euan Cuthbertson and Sophie Rose McCabe tell Cirrus’ story with a lilting poetic script. Their audience of babies and parents sit right up to the edge of the grass mat of the performance space so they can come round, introducing the four inch- high Cirrus to his newly adoring public and giving him the most natural of mannerisms as he sniffs and lopes among them.

It is a touch which is only surpassed by the way the escaped sheep magically float tethered like a baby’s take on a Pink Floyd album cover. All the while, Cuthbertson and McCabe hand round toys that illustrate the sheep’s day the wind, sounds and smells which regale them.

And afterwards, everyone can crawl onto the mat to play with the props and learn how to carry on telling the story long after the play is finished. Clever, accomplished and engaging. (Thom Dibdin) Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, John Hope Gateway, 226 0000, until 27 Aug (not 24), 11am, 1.30pm & 3pm, £5.

CHILDREN ARE STINKY Acrobatics and banter as Jason and Kylie ponder whether kids really are stinky ●●●●●

This is a show that has it all: acrobatics, humour, juggling, dance, word play and audience participation. Oh, and hula hoops too. Jason and Kylie start off the show claiming children are unimaginative, uncoordinated, lazy and, above all, ‘stinky’. A child’s voice from the audience disagrees with this assessment, shouting: ‘No we’re not!’.

As the show progresses, kids are brought forward

to participate in some of the acrobatics and Jason and Kylie are forced to reconsider their list.

Popular hits from the last two decades bring about spontaneous clapping in time from the crowd, to tracks such as Black Box’s ‘Ride on Time’ and Reel 2 Real’s ‘I Like to Move it’ from Madagascar.

A section where Jason piles one chair on top of another, then climbs athletically on top of all five of them is nail-biting, but happily no children are involved in this particular stunt.

Kylie and Jason are a likeable pair and it’s hard not to feel worried as they quite literally put their lives in each other’s hands. But if you want to find out whether kids really are stinky, you’ll need to go and see the show. (Helen Fowler) Assembly George Square Gardens, 623 3030, until 29 Aug (not 24), 12.35pm, £6–£8.

THE STORY OF MR B A tiny tale, told with love in a giant pop-up book ●●●●●

Brave, tragic, compassionate and hilarious by turns, Shake Shake Theatre’s The Story of Mr B lifts its audience into its heart and holds them there. With great humour and a real sense of how the minds of youngsters over about three years old work while making sure any younger siblings won’t be bored it tells of life, love, forgiveness and regret.

Mr B is Mr Bumblegrum, a wonderfully dumpy puppet of an old man who lives alone, deep in the forest. Not even the mushrooms are his friends and he spurns the birds’ beauty. His job is to count the trees, and that is what he does. But where did he come from? And how did the once-friendly waiter in the restaurant car of a local train arrive in this lonely place?

If grown-ups will admire the daring with which The Story of Mr B addresses the big issues in life just as any great theatre show should, whatever age it is aimed at everyone will be fascinated by the intricate, cleverly constructed book through which the story is told.

Open it up and it becomes a forest where Bumblegrum’s

house pops up. Turn a page and a tiny train puffs over distant mountains then out onto the stage, big enough for young Mr B to climb aboard. Windows open to reveal his adventures told in crisp, precisely illuminated shadow puppets. Above, a giant parasol sun twirls in anticipation, singing to Mr B in a vain attempt to cheer him up. It is the telling, though, which is so engaging. Puppeteers

Jessica Nicholls and Pierre Filliez have a natural rapport which makes the theatre itself an easy place to be as their audience arrive before they gently take them into their world and reveal the many splendid things which happen there. (Thom Dibdin) Institute Français d’Écosse, 225 5366, until 28 Aug (not 22), 11.15am & 2.30pm, £8 (£6).

18–29 Aug 2016 THE LIST FESTIVAL 63