Browse reviews

Brighton Fringe 2017

Christopher Nibble.

Topsy Turvy

Genre: Children's Theatre, Comedic, Family, Musical Theatre, Puppetry, Storytelling

Venue: The Warren Main Stage


Low Down

Christopher Nibble loves munching dandelion leaves. And he’s not alone. All the guinea pigs in Dandeville eat dandelion leaves for breakfast, lunch and dinner. But when the dandelions begin to dwindle, they just carry on munching. They’re heading for eco-disaster . . .

But Christopher Nibble steps in. He discovers the last dandelion and, rather than eat it, he nurtures the dandelion. Then he blows the seeds from a hill high over Dandeville so that each dandelion seedling takes root and grows into a new dandelion.
Dandelion, Dandelion, Dandelion.


I’ve never read Christopher Nibble to either of my daughters, (and I’ve read a lot of stories to them) but apparently this is based on a “dandastic” book of same name.

Meet Christopher, a lad of a guinea pig into footy and, like the rest of his guinea pig community (and there’s a lot of them), into dandelions.

Sadly most of this village (Dandeville) are fussy eaters and they don’t eat a range of veg, but largely stick to dandelions, for breakfast, lunch AND supper!  Munch, I mean much, to the dismay of local (also guinea-pig) cabbage farmer and self proclaimed businesspig, Farmer (Root?).
Hence, they are munching the poor over-stretched dandelion population out of existence and heading for eco-disaster!!

Luckily for all of us guinea pigs (by now we’re feeling honorary members of the species) Christopher, on discovering the last tasty dandelion outside his very own window, resists the urge to scoff it, and instead preserves and cultivates it so as to re-seed and restock the local hills and vales. Hooray!

Yes… I know… that was a spoiler. But hey… your 4-year old won’t be reading this, and you won’t be telling them (will you?).

But I can assure you it’s in no way scary, dark, loud or intimidating, and not one small child came away crying (unless it was because they’d done a wee).

Now that alone HAS to make this a  recommended show. My wee one (not that sort of wee) can get a tad scared of puppets or plots that have “upsets” in. This one was “aaaaalll oooookay.”

Plus… added bonus…. quite a few lovely songs! I really enjoyed the songs. They worked well and the two performers from Topsy Turvy had very fine harmonious voices.

Plus… they had good boundless energy, jolly and quizzical facial expressions throughout, and a clear sense of timing and choreography, like a well-run machine… you know…. like The Whitehouse.

‘Tis true that machines aren’t always great at adapting and doing new things according to what happens in the space, and the two strayed little, it seemed, off the plot or the run of usual events, leaving it feeling a tad mechanical at times, but at least the singing was live (if not the music) and there were no disembodied recorded songs or voices (unlike another company I could mention) which freaks my child out no end when it happens.
No, this was all live and direct.

I must admit that I personally wished for more “for the adults” to keep me engaged too. I saw a mum texting rather than watching too, she had turned off.
And I must also admit that after 20 minutes I found the very word “dandelion” one that I never, ever needed to hear ever again (ever), (and these really are amongst my very favourite summer wild flowers).

And food sustainability is a good message to get across to children, with the caveat that I am (personally) a fan of work which is developed for the sake of the story and theatricality, rather than the message or how attendance will “support a school’s work toward a Food for Life School’s award” as is mentioned on TT’s website. So when the thickly extolled message, even one I deeply agree with, starts to outweigh the merits of plot, something inside me turns off. But hey… I’m being too clever. The children weren’t rubbing their chins as if to say, “Haaang on… I’m being prosthelytized to here. What gives!?”. They mostly seemed happy.

I thought part of the lovely set a little hard to see in a raked auditorium, where the front features (two rotating pieces of set – one a cafe that was also something else and the other, Boy Nibble’s house that turned into a library) were quite obscured by the front rows.

The venue (The Warren, Main Stage) has another of its famous noise issues too in that the inflatable dome that it is has the constant loud whirr of fans to keep it up. Another thing for the company to battle.

Between them (the fan noise, the overuse of “dandelion” and “dandastic”, the tricky blocking that obscured part of the action for many, the very slight overuse of “we’re going to educate you in sustainability now” to the end), some of the children ended up drifting off,…. but were always brought back by the songs. We LIKE the songs! More songs please!

Before the end, my fickle child said she was “bored” and then outside said she thought “…it was lovely!”

Children! There’s no pleasing them……….. or is there!?

We’re very glad we came, and very glad to see the dandelions (doh… I said it again!) thrive again to see another day. Hooray!