Animal Olympics - Francesca Beard

This article is from 2008.

Animal Olympics - Francesca Beard

Sharp quips and out-of-the-box thinking about calendars

With her daughters’ stuffed toys and an inspired wit, poet Francesca Beard is bringing the Chinese Zodiac to the Fringe. Her first solo Edinburgh show, Animal Olympics, is ostensibly for kids, telling the tale of the animals racing to work out the order in which they appear in the calendar. ‘I wanted to make a show for the whole family, where parents might enjoy it as much as kids,’ says Beard. ‘My main thing at the moment is to get a good balance between the theatrical plot on the one hand and a more improvisational, audience-responsive vibe.

There’s a very strong storyline, motivated by the fact that Cat has been pushed out of the calendar and me and the audience are given the job of interviewing all the animals to find out why, by the very bossy Jade Princess, May Yee. It’s great that there’s a strong structure, but I do love making an audience the catalyst in each performance.’

A pioneer of the Free Fringe and recipient of the 2003 Tap Water Award for Best Spoken Word Artist, Beard’s work is a comedic melange of astute observation, tangential thinking, sharp quips and effervescent performance. And not just for kids.

Assembly Rooms, George Street, 0131 623 3030, 2-25 Aug (not 11), 11.30am, £9-£10 (£8-£9). Previews 31 Jul & 1 Aug, £5.

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