CBeebies presenter Cerrie Burnell brings semi-autobiographical show to 2013 Edinburgh Fringe
The Magical Playroom charts girl who loves dancing but rejects the prosthetic arm she’s forced to wear
This article is from 2013.
Yasmin Sulaiman hears from Cerrie Burnell about the loose memoir she’s bringing to the Fringe
She’s most famous as a presenter on CBeebies, but Cerrie Burnell also has an extensive acting background. Burnell – whose visible disability attracted ludicrous complaints from some parents when she joined the BBC’s flagship early-years channel in 2009 – began her acting career aged ten in London’s acclaimed Unicorn Theatre, before studying drama and working with the Graeae Theatre Company, eventually landing parts in The Bill, EastEnders and Holby City.
The Magical Playroom is her first Fringe play since joining CBeebies. Written and performed by Burnell, it’s about Libby, a little girl who loves dancing but rejects the prosthetic arm she’s forced to wear at her ballet lessons and seeks comfort in an enchanted toy room. ‘Libby’s story is loosely based on my own childhood,’ Burnell explains. ‘I was advised to wear a prosthetic arm by doctors. My parents followed that advice and that was really difficult for me. My disability was in fact the prosthetic hand, rather than it just being a missing hand. The play also makes reference to more universal themes, like disobeying your parents, having to make decisions on your own, the importance of giving children as much choice as you can and listening to them, especially when they’re in vulnerable situations.’
The Magical Playroom is directed by Hal Chambers, whose company Tucked In brought The Golden Cowpat to the Fringe last year. And Burnell’s hoping it will all come together in a great show aimed at audiences aged three and up. ‘What I want is for it to be as enchanting for the adults as it is for the children,’ she says. ‘Hopefully with the wonderful set, the beautiful music, the direction and the powerful storyline – and the performance, fingers crossed – we’ll manage to pull off something very special.’
Cerrie Burnell: The Magical Playroom, Pleasance Courtyard, Pleasance, 0131 556 6550, 3–18 Aug (not 14), 11am, £9.50. Previews 31 Jul–2 Aug, £7.50.