Edinburgh Fringe 2011
Mr Green returns from his holidays to find that Mr White has moved in. It wouldn’t be so bad but he is the winter and covers the house inside and out with snow. A touch of adult interaction, kids throwing snowballs and a wonderful hour under the lights leaves young and old thoroughly satisfied.
The piece has simplicity at its core but does ask us to suspend our disbelief from beginning to end. Two actors without the youthfulness of a C Beebies presenter but with the experience of being one – take a bow Patrick Lynch alongside Carlo Rossi – show us how to keep the kids involved and the pace just right. We are enchanted by their interplay, buy into the whole door that keeps the noise out and the snow that becomes snowballs and falls out of every piece of scenery. The setting is charming but also functional with the tree, the light, the previously mentioned door and the suitcase brought on by the returning Mr Green mined like a Shakespearean sonnet for laughs and effects. It needs the effects and the staging but does not simply depend upon them.
The pace of the show was right and young and old became aware of each nuance as served up as both performers demonstrated consummate skill in their approach to the piece. The slapstick was enough, the storyline worked and the interaction enough and at the right times to keep the kids onboard and the parents less worried about snow ball fights in August.
As a production this ticked enough of the boxes to make it a hit transfer from London that makes the Fringe such a delight when you find something of this quality and value. The down side for me were slight but were present. It comes in whether this is, as an example of its genre one of the best examples of children’s theatre and I would have to say that my opinion is that it is great but I have seen better. The quality of the performers notwithstanding and the structure being so good there were times when I felt the kids were being directed rather than fully engaged. Risks are taken every time you try and involve children as the stop button can be hard to find and the authority each actor possesses onstage is impressive but the children became ancillary to the story rather than integral to its telling. The use of someone in the audience who is part of the production is for me quite difficult. You either go for it or you don’t.
Now, as a student I was involved in a student Rectorial election with Ming Campbell of the Liberal Democrats and Jeffrey Archer of the Tories. I did a double take upon entering. Carlo and Patrick can argue over who looks like whom but they certainly were far more entertaining than the debates I attended with their look-alikes back in the day. I was engaged and I was entertained. It was a piece of entertainment that was unapologetic about being about nothing in particular apart maybe from compromise. I left feeling glad I had gone to see it but as I have said it had something about the way that other children’s companies are going that was missing. A great show that hit 4 stars for me but not the top spot. Mind you, you will go to much worse and pay much more for something your kids would enjoy less than this!