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Edinburgh Fringe 2014

And They Played Shang-A-Lang

Craft Theatre Company

Genre: Drama

Venue: The Assembly Rooms


Low Down

Your uncle Jim has died and left a play. It is all about his childhood – what better way to remember him than put it on.


Following a short requiem for uncle Jim, who has died a young lassie starts the narration that is soon taken over by that self same uncle. Jim then goes on to describe his childhood and the rush to adulthood. We get the youth club, the school disco, one young lad that ran away, another that never ran fast enough, the nativity scene at a primary school, punk, parties and your first love. It is all wrapped up in nostalgia and presented with no other desire than to entertain.

There is some good writing in here that is not drowned out by the Sweet. Mixed with the songs – the good ones – of the decade we are given a decent hour and a half worth of entertainment that fairly motors along. The performances of this fairly large cast – 9 – are what need to keep it going. Playing mainly young folk they do so with zing. Unfortunately for me, at times, it was all high pitched screams rather than understandable dialogue. I also found some of the lighting wavered and rather than illuminating the actors was away trying to find someone else to light. This was particularly true of a section where two actors – including uncle Jim – were talking and the light switched before they had finished.

Coming into the auditorium was great because many of the audience were pointing at old photographs and remembering. It meant that the piece had found its audience. They sang along, they oowed and they aahed when needed. I had particular highlights – school disco and the nativity being just two. I also liked the guy having run away and ending up in London. It was good not to imagine tragedy here.

This is a feel good show that managed to bring people into the performance who wanted to feel good. The songs of their childhood played and images from their city projected behind it became closer to a party than a deep and serious play with a message. I don’t think that anything serious was ever intended though the serious business of entertaining was managed well. There were quite a few in the audience who were well up for a night out but a few left – possibly for late transport home – before the end.

Overall therefore this was a great night out that had entertainment as its focus and I went home thoroughly entertained.