Edinburgh Fringe: an A-Z of children’s theatre reviews

Kirsty Alexander has been up in Edinburgh with the Network of Independent Critics checking out some of the children’s theatre on offer at the Fringe. Here’s her round-up of reviews!

A is for Acrobats and Spandex
For better or worse, Lords of Strut are determined to change your life through dance in their family show at Assembly George Square Gardens this festival season.  The Irish brothers are back again as they take to the stage in a vision of spandex and headbands, ready to give acts of kindness to the audience in the form of cartwheels and dance moves. Read the rest of the review here
Lords of Strut: The Family Show | Assembly George Square Gardens | For ages 8+

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B is for B*Witched
Full of excitement (possibly a little too close for comfort for those very close to the front of the stage), this talented group of performers had audience members young and old entranced by each spin and song. A real mix of chaos, beauty and amazing skill which, despite feeling slightly disjointed, left me with a pang for the memories which had unintentionally been forgotten.
Read the rest of the review here
Silver Lining & Jacksons Lane: Throwback | Underbelly Circus Hub | PG

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C is for Children are Stinky
Circus Trick Tease are at Assembly George Square Gardens with Children are Stinky. Somewhere amidst the acrobatics, lifts and of course, fart jokes, the Australian duo challenge children to defy their statement that children are lazy, uncoordinated and, most of all, stinky. 
Read the rest of the review here
Children are Stinky | Circus Trick Tease | Assembly George Square | For ages 0-14 

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D is for dinosaurs
With a few puns on the side for grown ups, this performance may have been a little long and wordy for some of the children – roars of distracted minds filled the front few rows – but as the stage exploded with action and song, the storybook really came to life and everyone was on side for the final number.
Read the rest of the review here
Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutlass | Les Petits Theatre Company | Pleasance Courtyard | For ages 2+

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 E is for Earth, Fire and Water
Paines Plough have got a storming line-up at the Roundabout at Summerhall this year, and their slice of fun for children is no exception. I Got Superpowers For My Birthday is a collaboration between Half Moon Theatre and Paines Plough, and transforms the space into a battleground for monsters and an arena of superpowers as three school children get a little more than they bargained for on their thirteenth birthday.
Read the rest of the review here
I Got Superpowers For My Birthday | Paines Plough and Half Moon | Roundabout @ Summerhall | For ages 7+

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 F is for fairytales
Three is the magic number right? Three musketeers, three bowls of porridge, three witches, three meatloaf songs (even if nobody knows the third one!) – so much of life comes in threes and Wrongsemble are in on the action at Summerhall this year with their family show, Three, in the early morning slot.
Read the rest of the review here
Three | Wrongsemble | Summerhall | For ages 3+

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G is for (Secret) Garden
The Secret Garden by Frances Hodgson Burnett is a classic that played a big part in my reading collection when I was young, and this wonderful adaption brings to life the tale of discoveries and growing up. In the Wine Bar at Gilded Balloon, in a tucked away (almost secretive) venue, the Yvonne Arnaud Theatre company are at the festival for another year to show off their young talent.
Read the rest of the review here
The Secret Garden | Yvonne Arnaud Youth Theatre |Gilded Balloon | For ages 4+

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H is for hat
This tale translates brilliantly to the stage as two bored siblings on a rainy day are visited by a Cat with exceptional headwear intent on causing chaos around the house.  Sally and her brother watch in amazement as the cat performs tricks and teases them by riding a bike inside, balancing the goldfish on an umbrella as furniture flies all around. Read the rest of the review here
The Cat in the Hat | Paul Taylor-Mills | Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) | For ages 3+

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 I is for itchy feet
Proof that everyone feels small sometimes, this is a heartfelt tale brilliantly retold. The Snail and the Whale will leave audience members all warm and fuzzy as the wonderful father-daughter relationship is at the forefront of their favourite bedtime story. The show is transferring to the West End’s Apollo Theatre from 30th November 2019 – 5th January 2020.
Read the rest of the review here
The Snail and the Whale | Tall Stories | Pleasance Courtyard | For ages 4+

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J is for the jungle
Using puppetry as well as some basic aerial and silk work, alongside live music and songs, it appeared at times as if there was too much but not enough all at the same time.  It would have been brilliant to see more of the aerial skills as the moments they were used really brought the stage alive: monkeys span and flew, and snakes became tangled amongst themselves. The multi-talented cast really shon in these snippets as audience members young and old wondered where to look next.
Read the rest of the review here
The Jungle Book: Cobwebs and Moontalk | Strung Up Theatre Company in association with the Pembroke Players | C Venues 

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K is for King Boris
Molly Whuppie dance, Molly Whuppie sing, Molly Whuppie ran through the woods and she went to see the King. Lickety Spit are at Assembly Roxy this month with their much loved tale of Molly Whuppie and her brave adventures, and this full-of-heart production is definitely an early morning hit with its early years audience.
Read the rest of the review here
Molly Whuppie | Licketyspit | Assembly Roxy | For ages 3-12

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L is for laughter and chocolate goblins
Improv could be a really risky move for an audience under the age of 12, but the well-practiced Showstoppers completely pull it off in their Kids Show at Pleasance Courtyard. Something for the young and young at heart, the venue was packed to the brim and full of laughter as a brand new story was created with suggestions from the crowd.
Read the rest of the review here
The Showstoppers’ Kids’ Show |The Showstoppers/ Something for the Weekend |                Pleasance Courtyard | For ages 5+

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M is for a majestic kiss
Fairytales are all over the place in Edinburgh this year and Brush Theatre company have brought their production of The Tiniest Frog Prince in the World all the way from Korea. Up in the loft of C Venues, the group instantly welcome the audience by inviting them to plant flowers in to the garden as everyone takes their seats.
Read the rest of the review here
The Tiniest Frog Prince in the World | Brush Theatre | C venues | For ages 2+

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N is for Nonsense Room
There seemed to be more pushchairs than parents as the sold-out crowd descended on the George Square Theatre this morning for Shark in the Park. Nick Sharratt’s popular books have been adapted for the stage by Nonsense Room, ABA International Touring and Macrobert Arts Centre, and the end result is a performance which is almost the mirror image of the illustrated storybooks. 
Read the rest of the review here
Shark in the Park | Nonsense Room Productions | Assembly George Square Theatre | For ages 0-8

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O is for onesies
A beautiful calming hour in the Circus Hub; despite feeling a little long and lacking pace at times, this is an afternoon treat for young ones and their grown ups. Bedtime Stories is an endearing and touching blend of children’s theatre and circus, making the outside world quite a shock when the lights come back on.
Read the rest of the review here
Bedtime Stories | Upswing | Underbelly Circus Hub on the Meadows  

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P is for peril
Billed with a family audience in mind, for the over 9s, in the 10am slot, Us/Them portays the events of a horrific terrorist attack through the eyes of two children in a enlightening and highly relevant piece of theatre.
Read the rest of the review here
Us/Them | BRONKS |Summerhall | For ages 12+

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Q is for quality facial hair
Beards are everywhere. The hipster movement has taken the world by storm and Trick of the Light theatre company are right on trend with their production of Beards! Beards! Beards! at Assembly Roxy.
Read the rest of the review here
Beards! Beards! Beards! | Trick of the Light Theatre | Assembly Roxy | For ages 8+

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R is for Radish
Tackling a brave subject matter, The Suitcase Kid is well-directed on the whole, although some of the songs could be slightly more convincing. There are too many in the ensemble and the scenes with a lot of them onstage are overcrowded. However, Hermione Leitch as Andy really shines and her natural ability has the audience completely on side as she gets batted from one house to the other.
Read the rest of the review here
The Suitcase Kid | Emanuel Theatre Company | theSpace on Niddry Street | For ages 7-14

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S is for stories
There’s nothing better than losing yourself in a good book, and that’s just the case in Trick of the Light’s The Bookbinder in the Cellar at Pleasance Courtyard this festival. A one-man show, this performance is a bit of a hidden gem – the kind that you’d find right at the back of an old book shop. 
Read the rest of the review here
The Bookbinder | Trick of the Light Theatre | Pleasance Courtyard | PG

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T is for twins
With a live guitar on stage, upbeat songs and adorable puppets made of recycling, the audience are kept intrigued from start to finish and hopefully will all take away a new outlook on looking after what will be left for future generations.
Read the rest of the review here
Erin, Errol & The Earth Creatures | Modest Predicament | Scottish Storytelling Centre |
For ages 5+

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U is for urban pirates
Although not what I expected, this performance was definitely not short on energy and the young pirates in the audience were more than up for joining the dance on stage (even if some were slightly early to the party!) An upbeat and fun production, pitched at just the right duration for its demographic.
Read the rest of the review here
Pesky Pirates: A Hip Hop adventure | Let’s All Dance | theSpace @ Surgeon’s Hall | For ages 2-9

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V is for very large fruit
With some brilliant moments of shadow puppetry and some humorous characters, this performance makes for an enjoyable hour but unfortunately doesn’t quite do the book justice.
Read the rest of the review here
James and the Giant Peach | UCLU Runaround | The Zoo | For ages 6+

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W is for Into the Water
Although this production could do with dropping 10 minutes somewhere and losing some of the repetition throughout, it’s great to see a dance piece for families which isn’t your standard ballet, and the rhythms and clapping keep the energy of the piece at an appropriate level. An enchanting piece kept alive by the hypnotising soundtrack. 
Read the rest of the review here
Into the Water | Up & Over It | theSpace @Surgeons Hall | For ages 4+

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XY is for Xtra mischief for the Young ones
This cheeky magical performance is a wonderful escape and the onstage musical accompaniment and rhyming songs really add to the overall imagery. With the chance for the little ones to interact and play on stage at the end, Barrowland Ballet have pitched this just right, making this a treat and a wonderful introduction to dance for the under 4s.
Read the rest of the review here
Poggle | Barrowland Ballet & Macrobert | Dancebase | For ages 0-4

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Z is for a zesty Grimm
The space is too small for the cast and their set, but the direction is clear and works well for the most part. Stuffed to the brim with puppetry, rapping, larger than life costumes and some straight talking story telling, the energy is high and this taste of the darker side of Grimm makes a change from the fairy tales and conventional happy ever afters.
Read the rest of the review here
The Grimmest of Grimm Tales | Avva Laff Productions | theSpace @ Surgeons Hall | For ages 6+ 

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Kirsty is based in Cardiff and works in the arts. She is part of the Welsh Young Critics’ scheme, and you can read more of her reviews on her blog. Follow Kirsty @chaotickirstyy


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