FESTIVAL KIDS | Reviews
N N Y L G C M N A C N U D
: O T O H P
P H O T O
M R S U A V E
MOLLY WHUPPIE Scottish folk tale brought to glorious life ●●●●●
When the house lights go down at the start of any children’s show, a small voice can often be heard protesting the darkness – the theatre can feel like a strange, alien place to a child more used to the bright glare of a TV screen.
Edinburgh-based theatre company Licketyspit head that feeling off at the pass, by setting the scene nice and early. Actors Amy McGregor and Virginia Radcliffe introduce themselves at the very beginning, explaining what theatre is and the parts they’ll play. It’s a gentle, reassuring approach that settles everyone down for the story about to unfold.
Licketyspit first introduced the bold character of Molly Whuppie in 2001, long before Brave’s Merida came on the scene. Whuppie is the original strong Scottish heroine, who takes on a huge giant and mean-spirited king to ensure her family has food for the winter feast.
Her tale is told with as much physicality and dynamism as
McGregor and Radcliffe can muster – which is a lot. Swinging over two horizontal bars, they dart around the stage as Molly and her sister, balance precariously on the ‘bridge of one hair’, or lumber across the giant’s bounteous garden wearing enormous feet. Based on a Scottish folk tale, the narrative follows Molly on her
quest to secure food and drink from the king, who languishes in his high castle with plenty of both to spare. Along the way she meets a giant who, unbeknownst to her, is as scared of Molly as she is of him. So many messages are gently shared here – about friendship,
caring, doing the right thing – and throughout the show, the audience is encouraged, and heartily agrees, to join in with songs and noises, accompanied by the beautiful sound of live harp and fiddle. (Kelly Apter) ■ Assembly Roxy, 623 3030, until 28 Aug (not 24), 10.30am, £12 (£9).
P H O T O
: J E R E M Y A B R A H A M S
THE MAN WHO KNOWS EVERYTHING Comedy, clowning and real character ●●●●●
It’s a shame to see this fun and beautifully well-executed comedy show crammed into a Grassmarket hotel’s meeting room which fits a couple of dozen at a very large push, because it’s most certainly worthy of a larger stage. A simple, silly two-hander, it features mime artist and clown Jack Stark as the title character, a man who tells us he knows everything – which is fine when he’s dashing off the number of months in a year, but not so much when an audience member asks how many trees there are in the world.
Stark’s role is incredibly physical, playing alongside Anna Larkin in an equal – and equally demanding – part as his foil. The pair work well together, building a rapport with spark, very visual action and a bunch of fun props and audience interactions when The Man decides to tell us one of his many parable-like short stories.
It’s unlikely you’ll feel particularly educated after being asked whether you’d rather know a fact about ‘insurance or bogies’, but amid all the excitement lies a nice message for young ones about what knowledge really is. (David Pollock) ■ Sweet Grassmarket, 243 3596, until 28 Aug, 11.30m, £7 (£5).
64 THE LIST FESTIVAL 18–29 Aug 2016
HOW TO BE A ROCK STAR High-energy dance workout with life lessons ●●●●● MIKEY AND ADDIE Friendship forged through bittersweet tale ●●●●●
Australian comedian Tessa Waters has clearly been backstage snorting lines of sugar before her rock masterclass for children kicks off. She’s outside the tent giving high fives as the crowd files in, then kneeling to bond with two-year-olds as they complain about the traffic on the way here. Her interactive show is an opportunity for shy children to show off and hyper ones to burn off energy, as she dishes out instructions on how to do power poses or create a signature dance move. Parents and carers (or ‘security’ as she’s calling them) can get involved or gaze lovingly from their seats, depending on their energy levels, but the majority can’t resist the draw of Phil Collins, Queen and Corona, and fill the dancefloor.
Her body positive message is subtle, fun and
welcome, as is her advice for young fans on how to deal with embarrassing situations. She clicks fast with the children, dishing out encouragement to the aspiring rockers as they practice fierce faces: ‘a couple of teeth missing, I love it.’ Describing Coldplay and Radiohead as ‘rock’ is maybe open to debate, but that’s hair-splitting in an otherwise infectiously fun show. (Claire Sawers) ■ Assembly George Square Gardens, 623 3030, until 29 Aug, 3.15pm, £8–£6.
Mikey hasn’t seen his dad for years, Addie wants to be the best playground monitor ever. They’re two 10-year-olds who, at the start of this engaging solo show, have yet to interact. But as Mikey’s long-held belief that his father is in outer space working for NASA starts to crumble, and Addie realises she was the one who planted the seed of doubt, the two strike up an unlikely but heart-warming friendship. Actor Andy Manley walks and talks us through their story, stopping occasionally by one of the large, black plinths that surround him to swap the item on top as the story unfolds. Gradually, as Mikey learns the truth, the space paraphernalia is replaced by more everyday items.
It’s a gentle, bittersweet coming of age tale about the lies grown-ups tell children in a well-meaning bid to protect them – and a child’s determination to see past it. Manley does a fine job of switching between the two protagonists, giving them clear voices and mannerisms so there’s no doubt who he’s being. There’s an awful lot of text to take in, however, and a little more physicality in the direction would help keep the target audience of 9 to 12-year-olds suitably stimulated. (Kelly Apter) ■ Summerhall, 560 1581, until 28 Aug (not 22), 11.25am, £9 (£7.50).