Small Wonders (5 stars)

This article is from 2019

Small Wonders

credit: Stephen Dobbie

An incredible site-specific promenade show that takes audiences to a place where imagination makes anything possible

In a way, the title of this show is misleading – because the sense of wonder it creates isn't small at all; it's big and exciting and unexpected and, at times, jaw-dropping.

To describe anything that actually happens during Small Wonders would be to spoil the enjoyment. So in order not to deny both adults and children the open mouths of surprise, smiles of delight and gentle heart-tugs of sadness, I'll keep this vague.

Arriving at 'The Warehouse', a hitherto unknown venue usually used for storage, we're invited into a purpose-built hallway with two front doors. From the outside, number 17 looks like any other council flat – but inside, there's magic to behold.

Nanny Lacey has lived there for 30 years, creating tiny miniatures that depict her memories – from cottage holidays visiting her granny to the night she and her daughter Bella lit up the dance floor at Butlin's. These fascinating miniatures decorate the flat, made inside cardboard boxes, sideboards and even frying pans.

Bella herself (now all grown up) is on-hand to put Nanny Lacey right if she occasionally forgets things, but otherwise this old lady's mind is sharp as a tack, and her imagination sharper.

What happens after Nanny has shared her stories is for you to find out, but suffice to say we don't spend all our time in her cosy living room – halfway through, everything changes. A few little ones might find the transition a touch scary (and the 5–11 age recommendation is correct – definitely no younger) but with hand-holding and reassurance of the excitement ahead, all should be well.

So often, shows with a design of this extraordinary level of intricacy and detail, are a triumph of style over content – the set delivers, but the script doesn't. Not so here. London-based Punchdrunk have created a show that's funny, poignant and continually engaging.

The Small Wonders set may have taken the company an entire week to build – but it will take its audience a lifetime to forget.

The Warehouse, Edinburgh, until Sun 2 Jun.

Small Wonders

  • 5 stars

Theatrical storytelling about Nanny Lacey's collection of miniatures and the tiny worlds she has created.