Long March to the Edinburgh Fringe

Just as remarkable as many of the shows at the Edinburgh Fringe are the remarkable array of inspirations that lie behind them.

This Saturday around 20 elementary school children from China will appear on stage for one performance only of a musical revue called Triplex Adventures.

It tells the story of Chao a spoilt schoolboy who tries to escape the world of junk food and bad teeth with the help of his friends “vegetables, water, sporty shoes, and alarm clock”.

At one level it’s a fun show with a health message at its heart and a chance for parents to let their children get a glimpse of contemporary Chinese culture.

At another it’s a recognition of some of the unintended consequences of one of the biggest ever social engineering experiments attempted by the human race.

China’s One Child Policy was introduced at the end of the 1970s in a bid to prevent overpopulation. But one of the results was a huge number of over-indulged and pampered kids known as “little emperors”.

Just like Scotland, China has ended up with problems of childhood obesity and unfitness.

And it’s this that the Bluebird Theatre Company of Beijing is attempting to address through the performing arts. Their efforts have been widely recognised at home, with the company winning a gold medal at the Beijing 2018 Arts Festival.

Coming to the Edinburgh Fringe has been an immense experience for the children. Their performance is the highlight of a trip to Britain in which the children are being introduced to our cultural heritage – including a trip to the RSC in Stratford On Avon.

But their sheer excitement of being able to clamber on board an Edinburgh Bus Tours bus, see the castle and now the prospect of taking part in the world’s biggest arts festival has been enormous.

And the message behind their show matters as much here as at home.

But for audiences here one of the biggest draws may be that it’s a light hearted way to learn a little more about a country and a culture, of rapidly growing world importance, that is currently quite unfamiliar to most of us.

The theatre school itself is hopeful that this is just a first dip of the toe into the world of Scottish culture. If it goes well they hope to be back, and next time for a longer run.

Triplex Adventures takes place at 12.40pm at theSpace Triplex (Venue 38) on Saturday, 10 August. Tickets available here.