Reviews & features: Kids

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Longlist announced for the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award 2014

23 Jul 2014

The award recognises Fringe shows that encourage audiences to consider their environmental impact

The shortlist for the Edinburgh Fringe Sustainable Practice Award, which celebrates the greenest and most sustainable shows of the fringe that encourage audiences to take responsibility for their own environmental impact, has been announced, with 22…

Oliver Postgate’s classic Noggin the Nog comes to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

The Sagas of Noggin the Nog brings viking from vintage children's TV programme to stage

Some years ago, in an innocent time before the Game of Thrones hegemony, there was a converted cowshed in leafy Englandshire. Therein, two men created an animated fantasy adventure set in the craggy Northlands, starring a simple, kindly Norse prince…

Children's show Musical Mornings with Mil’s Trills set for 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe

15 Jul 2014

New York songwriter Amelia Robinson on her show that introduces music and instruments to all ages

If helping your little one discover the joy of music and language is high on your list of priorities, but one more rendition of ‘Wheels on the Bus’ might tip you over the edge, then a refreshing wind is blowing in from New York. Singer and songwriter…

Island of Lemurs: Madagascar

16 Jun 20143 stars

A beautiful but over-simplified family-friendly nature doc narrated by Morgan Freeman

At 40 minutes, David Douglas’ slender, family-friendly IMAX lemur doc is a hark back to the format’s days as a short-form edutainment outlet. Friendly, photogentic primates leap across the massive screen while Morgan Freeman’s subterranean tones…

Edinburgh International Film Festival 2014: Take a trip to the Island of Lemurs

10 Jun 2014

Writer-producer Drew Fellman discusses the IMAX doc, which is narrated by Morgan Freeman

It’s a cute, furry, animals-acting-like-humans narrative that could have been lifted straight from a Disney storyboard: a group of primates, fearing extinction on the mainland, board a naturally made raft and set sail for distant shores. ‘It’s the sort…

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Sam Rose in the Shadows

21 Aug 20134 stars

Warm, sensitive and uplifting tale about sadness from puppetry and theatre company Tucked In

It’s a strange feeling, coming out of a show about sadness with a smile on your face. Even before this piece from puppetry and theatre company Tucked In begins, a warm atmosphere is in the air, buoyed by gentle ukulele songs and pre-show chatter with…

Little Howard's Big Show for Kids

21 Aug 20134 stars

An enormously fun hour of technical wizardry and audience interaction

There’s an intriguing mix of the hi-tech and old-school about geeky comic Howard Read and his cheeky sidekick, Little Howard. Since arriving on the comedy scene over a decade ago, Read has been known for his work with screens, laptops and animation…

The Adventure

21 Aug 20134 stars

An interactive kids' show that starts (intentionally) weakly but improves steadily throughout

It’s not unheard of for a show to start well, then descend steadily downhill – but The Adventure does the exact opposite. From a fairly lacklustre start (intentional, as it turns out), it just gets better and better. In the interest of making it as…

YurtaKids: Unleashed

21 Aug 20132 stars

Scarlattine Teatro's dance piece for under-5s lacks structure

Given that human beings are said to develop more between birth and the age of five than at any other point in our lives, creating a show that appeals to everyone in that age bracket is a task-and-a-half. And sitting next to those kids, of course, is an…

Starbird

21 Aug 20133 stars

Mara Menzies' colourful puppetry and storytelling lights up the night

There are a few key ingredients you need to entertain young children, and this show has pretty much got all of them. An engaging storyteller, Mara Menzies interacts with the children as if they were sitting in the library at school, instantly taking…

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Esio Trot

16 Aug 20134 stars

Delightful Roald Dahl adaptation by Cambridge students

Roald Dahl’s tale of two lonely people brought together by a tortoise was adapted for the stage by Cambridge University’s Ryan Ammar and brought to Edinburgh by the Uni’s ADC Theatre. The script bolsters the slight story by amping up the villainy and…

My Brother the Robot

11 Aug 20134 stars

Futuristic family fun

The technology in Tall Stories’ new show may seem far-fetched, but with robotic carers for the elderly already in development, it’s closer than you think. Little Bobby lives alone with her father in the year 2042, eating fish and chips from a…

Rumpelstiltskin and the Wheel of Fortune

11 Aug 20134 stars

Puppetry that spins pure gold

Perhaps it’s his funny name. Or the fact he can spin straw into gold. Whatever the reason, Rumpelstiltskin has remained a perennial fairytale favourite for over 200 years. Storyteller and puppeteer Andy Lawrence knows that, which is why apart from a few…

Handmade Tales

11 Aug 20134 stars

Young company, Tap Tap Theatre, excels at storytelling enchantment

Tap Tap Theatre sprung into existence last year, created by University of Bristol students, and has quickly garnered an enviable repuation. This year they have three shows at the Fringe: Captain Morgan and the Sands of Time, Men and Handmade Tales…

I Believe in Unicorns

9 Aug 20133 stars

Storytelling with a serious message

The former children's laureate and writer of over 100 books, Michael Morpurgo returns to two of his recurring themes – the horrors of wartime and the majesty of the equine breed – in this 2005 story about the importance of storytelling. The action takes…

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The Red Tree

9 Aug 20133 stars

Sensitive meditation on childhood depression

Refreshing isn't quite the right word to use, but seeing a children's theatre piece open with the bleak torch-lit sentence ‘sometimes the day begins with nothing to look forward to’ is a welcome move towards tackling head-on the feelings of childhood…

Feral

8 Aug 20133 stars

Lovely puppetry, inventiveness and enthusiastic puppeteers makes up for some thematic shortcomings

Tortoise In A Nutshell are a multimedia company who build puppets from scratch and project them onto large screens. Feral takes a serious look at social problems: a controversial new 'supercade' has opened up in an Anywhere town, creating an…

Superhero Snail Boy

8 Aug 20133 stars

A zig-zagging emotional journey through comedy and tragedy

Penned by Elizabeth Muncey for Vertical Line Theatre, Superhero Snail Boy is a multi-headed beast. After an upbeat start we are introduced to a cabal of troubled characters in a series of vignettes. There's the bullied boy, the neglected girl, the…

I Knew a Man Called Livingstone

8 Aug 20133 stars

Historic Scot recalled from an African perspective

Victorian celebrity, Scotsman, missionary doctor, abolitionist, capitalist and explorer of Africa, 2013 marks the bicentenary of David Livingstone's birth. Toto Tales specialises in African forms of storytelling and presents some of the notable episodes…

Hairy Maclary and Friends

8 Aug 20134 stars

Old school literary adaptation of New-Zealand's canine hero

Hairy Maclary is the titular canine hero of some 12 books by New Zealand author Dame Lynley Dodd. In the book he is a small black hairy creature of indeterminate breed, in the show he’s a 5’5” hairy costumed creature of indeterminate gender. He also has…

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Fringe 2013 Bribe of the Week - I Believe in Unicorns

7 Aug 2013

Wizard Theatre's custom creativity just tops The Dead Secret's vintage treasure

Week two of our 2013 Fringe Bribe project brought with it a challenge: do we reward people who craft us personally-relevant pieces of creativity, or those who send us the coolest-looking stuff? In the end, we went with the latter: week two's Bribe of…

Showstoppers' Family Hour

6 Aug 20134 stars

Funny, silly, uplifting and ridiculous improvised children's show

As the audience entered, the Showstoppers cast was already on stage, crooning little ditties about the audience's clothing. This audient was immediately on his guard, although perspective was at hand in the form of the Daughter (six years old) who…

Romeo and Juliet

6 Aug 20135 stars

Children's show version of Shakespeare's star-crossed lovers, who never looked so good

Any company staging Romeo and Juliet for younger audiences has two hurdles to overcome: make it clear enough for children to understand, yet fresh and interesting enough for the adult sitting next to them, who knows the story inside out. This energetic…

War of the Worms

6 Aug 20132 stars

Richard Digance and duaghter in sing-a-long storytelling that falls foul of fact

Father and daughter team Richard and Rosie Digance narrate and sing their way through a tale of the humble worm and its role in nature – with an emphasis on the smelly. With Richard on guitar duty, and Rosie reading the story, they make for amiable…

The Maharajah and the Kohinoor

6 Aug 20133 stars

Family-friendly show covering some home truths about the British empire

If you’re not already familiar with Britain’s behaviour towards India during the Victorian era, then prepare to come out of the theatre with any sense of national pride a little bruised. This is a story that deserves to be told; a piece of history lost…