Them with Tails
Tall Stories/Network of Stuff
Part of the Royal Bank of Scotland Children's Theatre Festival
Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, and touring
For anyone who missed Them With Tails at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival, it's lucky there's a chance to catch it again at this year's Children's festival.
Hannah Broadway's set is cheerful and cartoonish, something of a cross between illustrations from Dr. Seuss and Monty Python. Our two storytellers, Andrew Paton and Tom Banks, exude an exuberant and welcoming energy from the moment the auditorium starts to fill, weaving their way through the audience and chatting with the children who've come to watch them. Part of their warm-up includes shouting how boring it is to have to wait and asking where the performers are - an irony both children and adults in the audience could giggle at.
Aside from being hysterically performed - the story of The Fool and The Mule had this reviewer laughing so hard she nearly fell out of her seat (literally!) - Tom and Andy (as we're introduced to them) encourage children's creativity and confidence by talking to them on their own level and taking every suggestion, no matter how factually correct, and turning it into a part of the show.
Nowhere was this more evident than in their final story - a skilfully performed improvisational exercise where the kids contribute to the final story, which, on our night (and remember, this is entirely based on suggestions from their audience and will vary from one show to the next) could have been titled:
The Story of Two Stupid Great Pandas, Or: How Ned the stupid Good Panda who lived at the top of a very skinny tree had his magic golden bamboo that he could use to flush people down the toilet stolen by Jim Bob the Evil and also stupid Panda who lived at the bottom of the tree, but got it back by chopping Jim Bob's head off with an axe.
And if that doesn't just about sum up Them With Tails, nothing will!
"Them With Tails" is touring nationally until November
Reviewer: Rachel Lynn Brody