Oliver Postgate’s classic Noggin the Nog comes to 2014 Edinburgh Festival Fringe
The Sagas of Noggin the Nog brings viking from vintage children's TV programme to stage
This article is from 2014.
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, his exotic Eskimo princess, an evil, scheming uncle, a friendly ice dragon and a talking bird.
Noggin the Nog was one of numerous classic kids’ TV series created by Oliver Postgate and Peter Firmin. Bagpuss and The Clangers are more celebrated but Noggin set the whimsical tone with its absorbing yarns, charming animation, atmospheric music and Postgate’s soothing narration. The original series screened from 1959 until 1965, with a brief colour reboot in 1979.
‘I remember Noggin was something of a hero, and that the dragon was quite benign,’ says John Wright, who has directed a stage adaptation for Third Party Productions, aimed at young children who missed out on the TV series and grown-up kids who want to revisit a childhood favourite.
This version, featuring a mixed cast of puppets and humans, stays true to the Postgate spirit, using some footage from the TV series, adapting a couple of the original stories for its narrative and rearranging the eerie theme tune for harmonium and ukulele. And here be dragon puppets.
‘In a small space, that is captivating to young children,’ says Wright. ‘But adults find it funny because there’s an adult resonance in everything that’s going on: a king that’s always worrying, and his wife who never gets out of bed and worries. There’s a certain pleasure in adapting something that was written in the late 50s. The language is much more formal and I love this clash of marauding Vikings being so polite and well-mannered.’
The Sagas of Noggin the Nog, Assembly George Square Gardens, George Square, 0131 623 3030, 2–25 Aug (not 11, 18), 12.50pm, £9–£10 (£7–£8). Previews 31 Jul & 1 Aug, £6.