Edinburgh Fringe 2014
A modern fairy tale for kids and adults alike.
We all know the story of the Three Little Pigs, right? The two daft ones that build a house of twigs and a house of straw only to be terrorised by the big bad wolf who huffs and puffs and blows their homes down. They run off to the third brother, the sensible, wise, risk averse one with the brick built urban semi and low interest mortgage who keeps himself safely locked in at night and it all ends happily with the wolf defeated, panting on the outside.
No spoilers here. Co-creators Shona Reppe and Andy Manley expect you to know the fairy tale off by heart so that you can appreciate every nuance of this Traverse show, part story telling part art installation. Indeed the piece started life at the National Gallery of Modern Art last year and in the future should be taken up by another cultural institution for a wider audience.
It’s billed as a show for children (with a caveat of no under 8s). It is a show for audiences of all ages because it is a multi-layered experienced of what it is like to be frightened and vulnerable, whether the wolf at your door has a furry tail or is something even more sinister such as a tornado, the bailiff, an invading army or a howling sectarian mob.
The audience go in in groups of three at 8 minute intervals and the experience takes about 25 minutes to complete as each group moves from room to room. From the cheery parlour of mummy pig the group makes progress by opening hidden doors, peering into living spaces, and huddling in a (dry) shower. In part the experience is fixed – an unseen narrator guides you where to look, when to put on headphones and when to open the next door – but in part the group creates a unique experience as they explore objects in each room, open cupboards and press buttons. There is lots of fun to be had spotting Wolf bleach under the sink and shampoo for curly tails. Wee and poo make an appearance too, as in all good kids’ shows, but so do bottles full of liquid labelled hope, calm and bad moods.
There is enough to frighten, or at least disconcert, even the bravest cynical adult and kids will enjoy the straight forward terror of dark cupboards, padding footsteps and gratings glowing red. Older people will read their own meaning into pools of red liquid, a dining room that flies apart in an explosive still life and the sad memorabilia of an attic. It is very disconcerting to be standing in a small shower room with two strangers, all three giggling nervously and only afterwards think about what showers have been used for.
On a practical note you need to wear shoes you can slip on and off easily as you will be asked to remove them to preserve the floor. Don’t be put off if you are off small spaces are not your thing. The staff are very reassuring and have a plan to rescue you if you need it. The show is selling fast so book a slot if you can and be prepared to explore this very modern fairy tale to the full.