MARKS OUT OF TEN‘
The British musical. which some might say has been going wrong tor some years now with human beings taking second place to cats. trains and high tech generally. now takes another step backwards. or rather inwards. . . into the human body.
That proliilc man who is partly responsible tor the one about trains. is wholly responsible ior BODYWORK. ‘the story ola day in the lite ol the various bits oi a male body'- Dominic's. to be precise. Richard Stilgoe's idea is indeed inspired. iivaguely distasteiul. with characters called dermotis. ampia and testosterone. And though it is quite imaginatively realised. it eventually runs out oi adrenalin (another character name). and cannot really sustain itseli to a lull length musical with interval.
Still. this is the iirst National Youth Music Theatre production I haven't walked out oi. Usuallytheir kids are nauseating, iartoo eagertg please and to steal the show tor themselves as individuals. They make an undisciplined tribe and are oiten virtually unwatchabie. This production is as overpopulated and chaotic as usual. but here itseems to work because somehow one imagines it's iustwhat the inside oi the human body is like. Among the various organs and bodily lunctions represented, Paul Grier is the prettiest piece at muscle on stage. lull oi arrogant. rippling conviction. It's a mystery. though. what it is aboutskin that makes it appearcamp. Though there are llaws. this boldly conceived show could become a delightiul chamber musical it it had a more streamlined cast (preterably comprising only
teenagers and not annoying kids) and a shorter running time, to prevent it overstaying its welcome. (Mark Shenton)
o Bodywork. National Youth Music Festival. George Square Theatre (Venue 37) Until 21 Aug. Times vary.
’- CHILDREN’S wonxsuops
Perhapsthe term playshop is a better description at what goes on at the many events tor children around the city. One thing inthelr lavour is that parents should lind children more exhausted when they come out.
These workshops have onetheme-varlety. And what makes them
successlul is the balance oi :
ingredients. It's rather like making a cake. Stick to an old recipe and you'll be alright. One olthe essentials is Audience
Participation. a phrase that 5
some children and a lot oi organisers dread. But it workshops are golngto work. everyone has got to join in. There's nothing
worse than a group oibored
children on the loose.
Both the workshops I saw I
had everything under
control. In Charlotte Square
at the Book Festival. TAG
Theatre Company workshop :
encouraged children to act lorage tor wood. draw water and cook lood. It was a story low on melodrama but everyone acted with gusto. At the Gilded Balloon. Art Action For Kids took a more
i traditonal line. Here llound
magic. dance. drawing. storytelling and
out a story oi a Highland lamily who, to escape their poverty. set all lirst to Glasgow and thento Canada. It was like a potted history lesson. We began by teaming about their everyday lite and then groups were sent oil to
, mask-making. All takes
place during a packed two hours. We began with a
. magician who borrowed a j lot oi young hands irom the
audience to help. Butthe highlightwas Mr Boxman. hash irom TV's The Last Resort who gave us a Bruce Lee impression and rounded oil by dancing Puttin' On The Ritz. it was the lunniest thing l‘ve seen all Festival. The children
3 and the parents were
ecstatic. We all went home clutching our hand-made masks ieeling it had been
more workout than workshop. (Hamish Bredin) 0 Art Action For Kids. Gilded Balloon Theatre and Studio (venue 38) 226 2151. 20-23 and 27-29 Aug. 3.30pm. £1.50.
0 TAG Theatre Company Workshop. Run Finished.
THE SHOW THAT NEARLY WASN’T
Iwas lucky. The eight year-old next to me did most oi the participating. But tear not: this showis irresistibly enioyable, and since everyone. yes. everyone, gets dragged onstage, you won't ieel like a wet lemon. Besides. Arthur, exuberantly played by Kathy Parry, needs your help to mount a pertormance tor her exacting queen. Aiterall. Ed and Zac. the cowardly crows are not much use. and they've gotthe trighteningly iat Grumgrum breathing down their necks tor a good bedtime story. Rejoicing in such locales asthe Stream 0t Consciousness and the Torrents 01 Abuse, THE SHOW THAT NEARLY WASN'T uses a variety oi techniques and ellects (some original and successiul. others rather hackneyed) to intrigue and involve the audience. Hampered by inetilclent scene changes but aided by an enthusiastic cast, this show should please children irorn live to eighty-live. (Andrew Burnett) o The Show That Nearly Wasn‘t. DUFTS. Canongate Lodge (venue 5) 5581388. Until 22 Aug. 2.30pm. £1.50 (£1).
PETER AND THE WOLFZ
a A vast impressive Baptist
‘ church was the rather
: appropriate setting lorthis
well-loved tale, laultlessly presented and a contribution to this Festival's Russian theme. Iwas lull ol admiration that one person managed to operate all seven puppets
, and keep the large number oi children spellbound. The : audience was aked to clap
and answer questions by the puppets- they shrieked and shouted at the woll without hesitation and the very real excitement inherent in this story was only too evident. (Honorah Perry)
, o Peterand the Well, ' Handyworks Puppet
Compnay. Run linished.
THREE BILLY GOATS GRUFF AND THREE LITTLE PIGS
, This show was very bravely
billed as the only showlor the 2-5 year olds and many parents obviously thought their under-2s qualitied. They proved to be an awiul distraction lrom the puppets. but not as much as the various tradespeople who wandered. muttering, in and out the venue (a ‘lashionable Edinburgh nheﬂe).
The show was late in starting which was extremely lrustrating tor the children who were invited to all sit togehter around the puppet theatre. The main point olthe story. the ‘trip-trapping’ oi the Billy Goats over the bridge was uniortunately completely drowned by the shouts oi ‘where's Mummy' when the troll appeared.
The company's version it the Goats Grutt was rather insipid; my small companion. who loves the story. lrequently asked to go home and prelerred to count the multi-coloured optics behind the bar. The Little Pigs had a much more appreciative audience. (Honorah Perry)
0 Three Billygoats Grutt and Three Little Pigs. Buster Browns (venue 60), 27 Market Street. 228 4224. Until 21 August (not Sun— 11.15am.1adults.1.50 children.
This show has a terrilylngly loud beginning—children be warned - incorporating lairy story ingredients: the tlash. the pull olsmoke, and the bang which heralded the arrival at the company’s adaptation oi this liens Andersen story.
The cast oilive shared eleven parts and sometimes itwas dliiicult to guess exactly who was playing what. There were no doubts though about the Snow Queen, a tall inposing person in silverwho storms on and oil. howling and snarling and even donning black plastic sunglasses at one point. She sings a lttle ditty at the top at hervoice and ‘Freeze irame, total brain drain' is an oil-repeated retrain.
This was an incongruous mixture oi slapstick panto. titties rock and more. but in all it was a little too larirom the original story.
The company tried hard which was no easy task on the lirst day with onlya partially tilled theatre and the music. though tremendous. was much too loud.
Children can enterthe Snow Queen's Magic Mirror Competition and there are stickers and badges on otter. (Honorah Perry) Snow Queen. Red Rose Theatre Company. Royal Pharmaceutical Society,
York Place (venue 80) 556 4388. 17-29 August. 4.30pm. £2.
CHILDREN’S BOOK FAIR
The Children's Book Fair is an exciting ailair. It is thrilling to think oi so many writers and illustrators 01 excellent and extremely important children's books being so accessible. The events are many and varied; a children's orchestra. a magician. a story-teller. plus a larger-than-lile Postman Pat and his van. Aileen Paterson's Maisie who were only two oithe characters who ‘become real'.
The Pullin Club Fun House and Wooden Playhouse ior children entertain long-suttering youngsters waiting tor absorbed parents. There is a tree creche this year too. a terrilic idea.
(I want my Potty. Towser). Shirley Hughes (Allie. (Jagger) and Eric Carle (The Very Hungry Caterpillar and illustrator ol Brown Bear. Brown Bear. What Do You see?) in their individual sessions held their audience spellbound. Each at them told how they ‘made thierbooks' which was tascinating. Tony Ross drew requested pictures tor his samll audience -a lovely
thing to do and eventhough
we lett clutching the ubiquitous tractorthere were cries oi horror whenl rolled up the paper. Shirley Hughes' audience varied trom one year oldto 15 year olds and cleverly she was able to encompass them all. Eric Carle gave a dellghtlul talk on his collage-like creatures and how his books were born. Anthony Browne should not be missed on Saturday 22 August. The creatoroi Gorilla. Walk in the Park. Bearwiih the Magic Pencil and Willy the Wimp. he is an important iigure in children's literature today. Valerie Bierrnan. recent winnerol the Eleanor Fargeon award. must be
congratulated on achieving
such success in her organisation at the Children's Book Fair. (Honorah Perry)
0 Children's Book Fair. Edinburgh Book Festival. Charlotte Square Until Sunday 23 August.
This excellent company oi young people once again periorrn splendidly. Angel istheir ninth Fringe production and is a new musical by Ian Macdonald and Iain Fraser, veteran writers the company. Angela McBain, alias Angel. is the leader ola gang oi rebellious pupils in
their last year at school. They pledge neverto go to school and NEVER to wear unilonn. despite the iact that they look identical in their regulation denims.
Scenes alternate between another set 01 pupils within the classroom. pristine in their white shirts and red ties and the plotting oithe rebels without. Gradually they begin to mingle, Angel and Co go to school and their dillerences evaporate asthe agenda is mutually agreed: what's the point at learning; where do we go irom here.
The dancing is good, the dialogue clever and the singing hard to beat. There's a lot oi talent inthls company; they deserve great credit. (Honorah Perry)
0 Angel, Forth Children's Theatre Company. lnverleith Church Hall (Venue 120). 40 lnverleith Gardens. Until 22 Aug (not Sun), 7.30pm. 2.50 (1.50); matinee Aug 22. 2.30pm.
An all-day children‘s event at the testival is a new idea and in theory a good one. This event has notbeen terribly well attended so tar. but it should be ior it is dilierent. potentially an exciting day out tor school children and deserves support. There are three acts each momlng. a lunchtime puppet show and workshops in the altemoon.
As part oi the momlng session, Theatre Seanachaldh (Gaelic tor storyteller) present iolklore and legends dressed in traditional costume. The stories were told beautilully -children in the audience were actively encouraged to be part oi the tales
which were just the right length tor a wide age range. Although there were low children there. making it harder tor the actors. their enioymentwas total.
Best oi all were the marloneites who put on a little show to crackly background tapes at things like Ugly Bug Ball, Big Spender and the Octopus's Garden. A clown marlonette was brought out by his clown puppeteertothe children who were entranced - the whole ettect was magical.
The workshops inthe aitemoon are tun. there isa caie tor those who mayiind the day a little long and the caompany spend time there too, entertaining the restless ones.(Honorah Perry)
0 Kids Kabaret. Artlab UK and Control Suite T.l.E. (Venue 102). Scottish Society iorthe Mentally Handicapped. 95 Causewayside. Until 29 Aug. (notSuns) 10am £4.
24 The List 2| Aug — 3 Sept