Edinburgh Fringe 2010
Gomito Productions bring a very inventive and accessible children’s story to Hill Street, as Maggie explores the Secret Wing of a Museum and discovers not only wonders, but also a few things about herself along the way.
We enter and there is someone cleaning on the stairs; a stage adorned with dustbins and an audience adorned with adults, testament to the popularity of Total Theatre Award nominee Gomito’s adult theatre work.
Piano accompaniment is evocative and reminiscent of George Winston and the stage is set for a journey to the secret wing of a museum, realm of the Night Keeper, a Wonka-like character who brings his creations, made from discarded things, to life.
It’s Maggie’s birthday. She’s brilliant, smart and loves making things. And Maggie is looking for her sister, lost in the museum. This becomes the occasion for a journey tale, of adventure but also of self-discovery. The acting is top notch, the narrative full of humour, the interplay is both verbally and physically, full of well-paced, strongly directed set pieces, but often linked with a feeling of playfulness, even improvisation in moving the story along. Yes, it all feels marvellously playful.
There’s a lot of humour at the start set amid a mood of expectation. The tale that unfolds is told warmly and with much vocal skill, the staging is energetic yet tight.
So, the Night Keeper makes museum exhibits from magic dust and rubbish, the dust bringing them to life. One day this secret wing can be made public, but only when we are all ready to see such wonders…But there’s haughtiness afoot…
Beethoven, Napoleons, a space man, doodlebugs, dinosaurs and even a three thousand year old mummying mummy. Maggie journeys into the magic of history in search of her sister, and she comes across as a kind of modern-day Alice. Some of the scenes feel a little too cluttered and overcrowded
but given there’s a wonderful abundance of things in this production for the children to see and hear and enjoy, it’s mostly forgiveable. The puppets are, at times, breathtaking in their design and their operation, and here Gomito truly shine. The puppets are all made from things children themselves might find at home, and yet they are brought to believable life with ease and skill. And no neutral puppeteers – their faces are as alive as the puppets they enliven.
This is one of the most cleverly inventive children’s shows I have seen on the Fringe this year. Beguiling and charming, Napoleon doesn’t come off well in this superb children’s show, but Gomito certainly do. Outstanding work.