Mr Benn (4 stars)

This article is from 2011

Mr Benn

Tall Stories bring iconic 70s children's animation to Edinburgh festival

It’s 40 years since David McKee first turned his series of picture books into a TV series. In an instant, shop dressing rooms became the doorway to potential adventure, where anything could happen. For an entire generation, Mr Benn signified the potential for change – where the ordinary could become extraordinary.

Which is exactly the angle Tall Stories has gone for with its new production. Receiving an invitation to a fancy dress party through the post, Mr Benn claims ‘I don’t go to parties’ and throws it away. Fifty minutes later, having gone through the portal at ‘Fancy That’, the local costume emporium, he’s ready to change the world. Who knew that dressing up could have such a powerful effect? Well, children, of course – which is why this timeless character is now appealing to a whole new generation.

Tall Stories has taken two of McKee’s original tales — The Cook and The Frogman and breathed new life into them. Finding himself in the palace of a picky princess who won’t eat, Mr Benn solves the problem of why (she’s lonely) and leaves her happily scoffing a banquet. He then descends to the sea bed and helps an Elvis Presley-style monster outwit a tenacious photographer. A whistle-stop tour of The Red Knight, The Cowboy, The Wizard and The Spaceman follow, until it’s time to go back to Festive Road.

While the company has undoubtedly stayed true to McKee’s stories, they’ve also added layers of innovative theatricality. The set is pushed and pulled into all manner of new locations, catchy songs abound and, as with all Tall Stories productions, the talented cast leaps effortlessly from one clearly defined character to another.

Pleasance Courtyard, 556 6550, until 18 Aug, 11.30am, £8.50—£9.50 (£7.50—£8.50).

Mr Benn 6. The Cook

Mr Benn: The Extraordinary Adventures of an Ordinary Man

  • 4 stars

The wonderful Tall Stories (Gruffalo, Room on the Broom) is back with its new version of the TV programme.

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