How to Be a Kid

Sarah McDonald-Hughes

Paines Plough

Roundabout @ Summerhall

From 04 August 2017 to 20 August 2017

Rating: ****

Review by Robin Strapp

It’s always good to see Paines Plough at the Fringe in the Roundabout, their delightful pop-up theatre.

Sarah McDonald-Hughes's new children’s play How To Be a Kid is an absolute little gem.

It explores mental health issues in a non-frightening, easily accessible way for 7- to 11-year-olds.

Molly, beautifully portrayed by Katie Elin-Salt, is twelve and her mother is suffering from depression following the death of Nan so she has to take care of her little six-year-old brother Joe.

Joe (Hassan Dixon) is the hyperactive Super-Boy who loves dinosaurs and is also missing his Nan.

At first, life appears to be normal and a routine is quickly established as the kids, “get up, get dressed, get fed, do teeth, catch the bus to school, make the tea, go to bed” and then it is repeated with high energy.

But things soon spiral out of control; Molly can no longer cope and decides to run away. Soon, Social Services become involved and Joe is sent to stay with his Dad who has remarried but they have a small baby called Liam. Joe gets in the way and is very unhappy.

Molly ends up in temporary care at Riverside where she meets a new friend, Taylor (Sally Messham), who also plays the other characters, each one skilfully created. So some stability returns to Molly’s life.

There is also a,"tremendous adventure" in Nan’s old red rusting car including a trip to McDonalds and the swimming baths.

The story is brilliantly told, with total commitment, by three superbly talented actors who perform with verve and vitality.

There are many funny, laugh-out-loud moments and dancing to Taylor Swift with the final message that it is always better to share your troubles with your family being poignant.

This is perfect start to a day at the Fringe, and this heart-warming story is sensitive, uplifting and great fun. This is storytelling at its finest.