Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Battle mummified soldiers with real whips! Raid the lost tomb! Crack the code and escape the traps! With children invited onstage throughout (5 -12s) Spotlites bring another winner to the Edinburgh Fringe.
What marks a Spotlites production as outstanding are the central hero performances, the inventive sets, props and special effects, woven into a script that invites the children to influence through simple helping. When heroes get the help they need, then quests are fulfilled. The courage to dive artistically into the dual worlds of story and film, of childhood fairy tale and modern iconic movie create Spotlites’ unique, signature style on the Fringe.
The children always feel held safely by the production values and morals of the company writers and theatre makers even as the hero enters into danger and shadowy places. It can get scary, but we all feel scared together and know that help is never far away, if not from fellow characters on stage, then from us, the involved audience.
"Who wants to help me?" is Spotlites’ signature catch phrase and it is embedded throughout the performance. We get through danger when we help each other.
No one is ever embarrassed, no one made to feel silly. We learn the skills of the hero – finding skills, fighting skills, the skills to aid the quest. There are some impressive special effects but what marks it all out as outstanding is the lack of fussiness – just well used lighting, placed perfectly, timed to perfection, dry ice to add a bit of mood, and some beautiful, delicate props.
In Curse, the set is a big strength and the use of it is innovative throughout. There are some moments of high comedy, but never at the expense of the involved children. The actors effuse a charm that is matched only by their full on energy, and high octane portrayal of many different characets. The changeovers are swift, the script crafted so well to enable continuity and just a few actors to create the illusion of a much larger cast. Costumes are terrific, creating a real feeling for the Egyptian set.
Yes it draws from Indiana Jones, and yes it doffs its cap regularly to the film elements. But it is also a wholly made and rounded story in itself that grips from start to finish. Every move, every line, every prop, and every flash, is dedicated to a full-hearted adventure, given to us in theatre form. It works, and it is at the highest end of children’s big show production quality. This is no million pound budget but they squeeze a tenner’s worth out of every quid spent on the set and the props.
There’s no cynicism in this kind of theatre and only occasionally are the children addressed to much as savvy adults, and that isn’t always needed as, open mouthed they watch, simply as enthral led children.
Performances are protean, upbeat and delivered to the back of the space with full clarity and vigour. The story itself has touching moments alongside chase scenes and confrontations with evil. Spotlites have gone deeper this year and there’s back story that teaches us about Egyptian history and mythology. Anubis is portrayed simply and beautifully and there are some moments of physical theatre beauty towards the end.
All in all, another outstanding production from Spotlites.