Touring – reviewed at Assembly Roxy, Edinburgh
Built in a flurry of snow Flutter, from Tortoise in a Nutshell and Freshly Squeezed at the Assembly Roxy and then on tour, is the charming story of young sisters who venture out into the garden after a snowstorm.
Hindered – as much as helped – by their toy penguin Philip, they zoom around in the snowy garden, battling its hurricane winds, sliding across its glaciers and generally triumphing in the face of all adversity. Even a hungry penguin and a bumped knee can’t stop them.
Flutter is perfectly attuned to its two-to-six year-old audience. A magical fairy light tunnel leads into the show. It is lined with tiny houses and inside are sleeping animals, hiding away for the winter – although there are clues that they might not be as committed to a full winter’s sleep as you would have thought.
There is just the right balance of interest in the miniature and the lure of the big white stage to allow children to go at their own pace and avoid the parent-led rush to the front which can mar even the best-organised shows for children of this age.
The adventure is very much guided by Jim Harbourne’s music. From the first tingle of surprise in the snow to the terror of traversing slippy paths, it gives an extra zing to the quite natural performances from Christie Mitchell and Arran Howie, as directed by Matt Addicott.
The narrative follows the natural exploration of any child confronted with snow. The simplicity of chase, exploring and throwing snow around soon develop into something more structured. Howie has just the right amount of assertiveness as the initially more adventurous bigger sister, while Mitchell, initially timid, adds a more clowning, tumbling side to the adventure.
a life of his own
Then there is Philip. The cheeky toy penguin who takes on a life of his own when the girls aren’t looking – grabbing at their sandwiches, jumping on their backs for piggy back rides and, when he runs off, magically disappearing and appearing from different parts of the stage.
Flutter. Pic Richard Frew Photography
Not a huge amount happens, but there is still time for a falling out, reconciliation and a great deal of fun on a set which has been designed by Howie to allow those dormant animals which so delighted at the beginning to come out and appreciate the snowy playground.
Andrew Gannon’s lighting helps set the tone of the adventure, although a pre-finale sequence of wonderment is just a bit too subtle when everything else points to it being a moment of magic under the Northern Lights.
The sleight of hand in ensuring Philip’s appearances and disappearances might be a bit too obvious to older children, but in everything else, Flutter has elements for everyone. Even, thanks to the music and physicality of the performances, babes in arms.
There is also time to explore the set a little at the end and, if you are lucky, rub Philip’s fluffy tummy. All told, a delightful treat of a show.
Running time: 40 minutes (plus time to play on stage)
Assembly Roxy, 2 Roxburgh Place, EH8 9SU
Sunday 25 – Thursday 29 November 2018
Sun 25: 2.30pm, 4.30pm; Mon 26 – Thurs 29: 10.30am, 1.30pm; Mon 26 & Wed 28: also 4.30pm.
For tickets and details: Book here.
Flutter on tour:
Sun 25 – Thurs 29 Nov
0131 623 3030
Sat 1-Wed 5 Dec
0141 276 9696
Sat 8-Fri 14 Dec
Lyth Arts Centre
01955 641 434
Tue 18-Sat 22 Dec