Jo Tomalin’s Children’s and Family Show Recommendations for Edinburgh Fringe 2023

This year there are 125 Children’s Shows at the Fringe and it’s a perfect opportunity to introduce children to the wonders of live performance. Stories, puppets, magic, music, and zany characters engage the imagination and there are shows for the very young to tweens and teens. Topics and styles vary so there’s something for everyone, such as musical theatre, puppetry, science, improvisation, fairy tales (sometimes retold from a different point of view), Immersive shows with participation, art workshops and more.

The arts are so important to the young not only to entertain but also to provide knowledge and understanding about our world. Seeing a show together is a family treat that builds memories – helps build creativity and opens up the imagination – and also builds our audiences of the future.

Please refer to the EdFringe online schedule for more details about each show for content and suitability.

Abracadabra With An Apple Magic Show at PBH’s Free Fringe @ CC Blooms. A one hour show of stories, magic and comedic fun from Alex. Alex Kouvatas is an experienced magician and presents his children’s magic show at this year’s fringe.

The Armadillo and the Human Skin at the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. This is a two hour drop-in free non ticketed workshop (on 12th August only) about science and technology. Activities, talks, questions and a real armadillo!

Arts and Crafts Family Workshop at The Royal Scots Club, The Hepburn Suite, is a family-friendly hands-on workshop for all ages led by Sue Crawley at Sunshine Designs. Try making a collage or mixed media. “Have fun being creative with all the family.”

Brotipo at Assembly George Square Gardens is a one-hour two person circus and clown show. The two performers play and interact as their characters while doing acrobatics, hand balancing and more – all with humour and polished skills.

Bubba-Licious is a show for the very very young by Australia’s Last Dodo Entertainment. Clown and comedy includes bubbles, puppetry and shadow play this show is described as “a sensory display of colour, sound, light and movement to spark joy and ignite wonder.” Playing at Laughing Horse @ The Pear Tree.

Cartoooon!! A children’s show from Japan’s Witty Look group with circus and clown playing at Assembly Roxy. The main theme is clowns on unicycles, the taller the better “With the rare combination of world champion skills, unprecedented showmanship and a truly original style, the show fuses circus with Manga cartoons”.

ComedySportz playing at Laughing Horse @ The Three Sisters is an improvised comedy show with two teams making up dialogue and scenes based on audience suggestions. Everyone needs to see one of these shows at least once in their lives – and maybe some will be enticed to join a local Comedysportz group. Interactivity, laughter, creativity with wit and comedy are the main ingredients of these shows.

Improvised Rubbish Shakespeare – The Incomplete Works playing at Pleasance Courtyard is an improvised new masterpiece by Shakespeare. The Rubbish Shakespeare Company and Wing It Improv use all their skills of clown, physical comedy, audience participation and live music to create and entertain. “This spontaneous hour of family-friendly theatre is a ridiculously joyous, participatory event. Suitable for all, including those new to Shakespeare (or even theatre itself).

La Petite Gerda is a magical fairy tale about two friends (performed in English) with musical theatre, masks and puppetry. Footsbarn, the renowned theatre company from France adapts and creates meaningful stories to perform theatrically with interesting characters and music that create the world of the play.

Mario the Maker Magician playing at Underbelly, George Square, is an interactive family show that is sure to entertain. Mario, from New York – was seen on Sesame Street – brings his show to Edinburgh for the first time. It’s “full of original magic, handmade robots, and modern slapstick.”

Roger McGough’s Money-Go-Round created by Roger McGough is a family-friendly musical theatre show. The story is based on The Wind in the Willows. “Renowned poet Roger McGough brings to life his witty and mischievous children’s book in a vibrant new musical adaptation. Follow the trail of Mr Toad’s coin in this ‘beginner’s guide to the mysteries of economics’ (The School Librarian), sure to delight audiences of all ages.

Sea Dragon for Under 5s playing at Pleasance Courtyard is a musical theatre show with colourful puppets. Performed by Rachel Huggins and Corrina Hewat from Scotland’s Dragon Song Productions, the Sea Dragon is a story about “a magical coral reef that has lost its colour. Kipper the Sea Dragon searches the ocean for help, and engages with four magnificent kelpies, a starfish, a crab, and some cool seahorses.”

The Slightly Annoying Elephant is a musical theatre show with puppets performed by the renowned Little Angel Theatre Company from London specialising in puppetry. The play is based on the story by David Walliams. “What’s big, blue, bossy and turns up uninvited? A slightly annoying elephant, of course! One day Sam gets a very big surprise as a tired, hungry, antique-loving, cycling-enthusiast elephant turns up on his doorstep.“

Taiwan Season: World in a Word is told through physical theatre with imaginative music, movement, images and objects by Double & Cross Theater Group from Taiwan, playing at Summerhall. “Language is the springboard for fun and games in this interactive, family-friendly production. How much delight can we find together exploring the different sounds and shapes that are the tools of cross-cultural human communication?”

Wee Seals and Selkies is a family show about the seashore with storytelling, movement and music based on two stories by Janis Mackay. “The Wee Seal is the true tale of a seal born in the storyteller’s garden, while The Selkie Girl is a retelling of the much loved magical selkie myth, blending fiddle music and traditional storytelling to create the atmosphere of the sea and shore.“ Playiing at the Scottish Storytelling Centre.

Jo Tomalin is FringeReview’s dance and physical theatre reviewer at the Edinburgh Fringe and also reviews elsewhere in the world.