‘Bundles of energy’: YOU CHOOSE – Edinburgh ★★★

In Children's theatre, Regional theatre, Reviews, Scotland, Touring by Thom DibdinLeave a Comment

Festival Square Spiegeltent, Edinburgh – until 5 January 2019

There is plenty of choice and bundles of energy at Nonsense Room Productions’ adaptation of the children’s picture book, You Choose, for Edinburgh’s Christmas at the Festival Square Spiegeltent until early January.

The book, with words by Pippa Goodhart and bold and inventive block-coloured illustrations by Nick Sharratt, is a simple piece of family fare. Across boldly coloured double-page spreads, it details tens and hundreds of alternative settings, friends, jobs and even pets. You can be what you want to be – all you have to do is choose.

It is a favourite for young children to read alone or with an adult – the sort of book that sparks ideas for imaginative flights of fantasy so the wee one can end up creating a story for their grown-up to listen to.

Nonsense Room’s adaptation is equally simple. Eve Murray’s set and Gilchrist Muir’s projections use Sharratt’s drawings while Goodhart’s words are added to by Simon Beattie and Nicola-Jane Brown then set to music by Matthew Brown.

All the while, the audience is invited to choose a place to go, a character to have an adventure, a job for them to have, a suit of clothes and an event to take part in.

Paul Beeson and Carrie Mancini prove affable hosts, if not quite of the level of boundless enthusiasm of the presenters of what you might expect to be comparable shows – CBeebies’ Let’s Play or even improv musicals where the audience get to choose the plot and subject matter.

In reality, while both improv and Let’s Play are related by the emphasis on their being a choice, the focus here is on the actual choosing not the resulting story. Beeson and Mancini,’s job, then, is to make that process as fun as possible. And they do.

Paul Beeson and Carrie Mancini. Pic: Ian Georgeson

To that end there are games not unlike (shh!) Top Trumps, a race of inflatable animals through the audience, voting by acclaim and others, all designed to ensure that every young audience member gets to take part at some point, even if they don’t get to go on stage.

From the very start with a ping-pong ball vote on the overall setting for the final story, it is very much the creation of the environment for the final story which counts. The story itself is confined to an eight minute spot at the end of the show – and is probably its weakest part.

choosing is fun

Which doesn’t really matter, to be honest, because the choosing is fun – at least for younger audience members – and you wouldn’t need to be a fan of the book itself to have an enjoyable time of it.

In fact, the book’s fans will be at a disadvantage because they will expect all the fabulous choices available on its pages – when time and space mean that the choice is, by necessity, relatively small.

This engaging hour which will be of most interest to two to six year-olds, while giving just enough to parents to allow them to engage as well.

A solid production which does just as much as it should do to bring the page to the stage – but not a lot more.

Running time: one hour (no interval)
Festival Square Spiegeltent, Festival Square, Lothian Road, EH3 9SR. Phone booking: 0131 510 0395
Friday 30 November 2018 – January 5 2019
Daily, not Mon, at either 11am or 1pm. Check website for details.
Tickets and details: Book here.

Paul Beeson and Carrie Mancini. Pic: Ian Georgeson

ENDS

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Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. He tweets from @AllEdinTheatre and, personally, from @ThomDibdin.
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Thom Dibdin on FacebookThom Dibdin on Twitter
Thom Dibdin
Thom Dibdin has been reviewing and writing about theatre in Scotland since the last millennium. He is currently Scotland Correspondent for The Stage newspaper. In 2010, he founded AllEdinburghTheatre.com. The city's only dedicated theatre website, it covers all Edinburgh theatre year-round - and all theatre made in Edinburgh during EdFringe. Thom is passionate about quality in theatre criticism and is a member of the Critics' Awards for Theatre in Scotland. He tweets from @AllEdinTheatre and, personally, from @ThomDibdin.