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Edinburgh Fringe 2012

Bubblewrap and Boxes

Asking For Trouble

Genre: Children's Theatre


 Gilded Balloon


Low Down

"In the lost-mailroom bursting with homeless parcels and undeliverable letters lives a highly-strung mailroom dweller, intent on keeping his boxes in order and a free-spirited new arrival whose sense of adventure will leave you gasping for breath." This is a fast-paced, physical and comedic show for children from Asking for Trouble.


 Boxes of manifold sizes adorn the stage. Oureight year-old referred to it as a castle and immediately demanded we build one at home.

We are in the lost post room and our two hosts take us on a journey of imagination that always has a feel of "travel" about it. 
This is a show courts fascination with simple things.There’s nothing shoy about it and it allows confusion to arise in order to offer realisation and surprise. 
I loved the lack of garish colour. Simple repetition and rhythm are used in a piece oozing double-takes and gentle surprises, reactions and humorous set pieces. The set pieces largely arise from the acting out of stories that emerge from reading the postcards and letters. This provides a chance for variety, shifts in tempo and mood, and plenty of acrobatics and skilled physical interaction between the two performers. Two clowns, physical comedians, physical storytellers, silent movie is present in the style in a show that’s a fine primer for surrealist theatre for kids.
Best for under sevens I’d suggest yet it still held our eight year old fascinated. There’s acrobatics melded into the stories that emerge from  the postcards and letters and the adult-childish performers deliver the show with energy and physical skill. I was reminded in places of the Long Nose Puppet’s stellar show Penguin in which silence is used in ways that create deep attention in the audience. That was also in evidence in this show as well; the production finds well crafted moment of stillness that focus attention, raise interest and curiosity. Perhaps even a few more of these sacred moments would benefit the show.
Not all of the material engages equally and this is the challenge of a simple show seeking the concentration of young children of today – to hold the interest. They largely pull this off but a bit more work on the narrative of attention would lift a very good show even higher. At the moment the different set pieces join up a bit too raggedly. Children love the completion of the circle – in story and in their play. This needs a bit of focusing.
Parcels and letters waiting to be opened, it’s a conceit that taps into that archetypical curiosity in us all. What’s in the box ? Blended with some grand comedy dynamics between the two performers it’s cleverness lies in its courage not to over-elaborate. In a age of sensory over-stimulation of children this made a refreshing change.  A show brimming with charm. We thoroughly enjoyed it. Warmly recommended.