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Jo Across the Festival '12 - Aug 09

Jo Turbitt reviews The Magician's Daughter and Hangman.

Edinburgh continues to glisten and glow in the sunshine. The public are flocking to the open air venues and the ones which have 'a bit where you can sit'. Going to shows on your own means that while sitting having a coffee beforehand you catch snippets of conversations between people who have the Fringe in common, shows they've seen and those recommended—and those to swerve from. I think it's the only time of the year, other than the New Year’s street party, when I've seen strangers happily talk to each other. It's great!

The Magician's Daughter (Little Angel Theatre), Underbelly (****)

A fantastical adaptation for kids of one of Shakespeare's most magical plays, The Magician's Daughter takes the central ideas in The Tempest and crafts them into a simple, beautiful retelling of the story. Little Angel Theatre use songs, magic and inviting warm energy in their piece set in a world which is like 3D watercolour pictures brought to life. Charming puppetry aids them in bringing Caliban and Ariel to life in a spritely mischievous fashion which compliments the nature of the performers. Ages 3+ on the flyer, I'd say 5+ due to the text, the audience participation and the storyline, which, even though it's been simplified, still holds a lot of plot. It's a brilliant way to introduce kids to Shakespeare and his bounty of stories, his gorgeous words and his world of characters.

Hangman, Assembly Roxy, (**)

On the outset this show looks promising: newspaper decorates the stage and sleeping bodies slump on furniture lulled to sleep by the clattering of a typewriter. The loose storyline of a writer and several situations depicting different ways of meeting your match in a film noir fashion is a very very "loose" skeleton, with the flesh of the performance not really clinging on to any bones at all. The physicality of the male dancers and the contact work between the two female dancers was gorgeous; I could have watched them dance together for more of the show. The other brilliant aspect of this piece is the lighting: it's dynamic and sculptural, providing an excellent partner to the choreography. That for me is where the two stars come from. The rest of the show is lost in translation, with a lot of the physical comedy in both the transitions and the scenes not really making any relation to anything. There are genius moments which faded away without exploration, leaving me feeling bereft of a full show; thank goodness for the movement and the lighting.

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