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Edinburgh Fringe 2014

Pitschi – A Kitten with Dreams


Genre: Children's Theatre

Venue: The Quaker Meeting House - Venue 40


Low Down

 "The rough and tumble, mischievous fun of kitten play is not for Pitschi, she dreams of being something else – a hen, a goat, a duck, a rabbit, for after all, anything is better than being a cat! Swiss author and illustrator Hans Fischer’s exquisite picture book, Pitschi has delighted generations of children – and cat lovers – around the world, and this Komedia production brings the story to UK audiences for the first time. Come and enjoy the perfect show for young children, full of good humour, music and song.". Traditional in style, hardly known in the UK, much loved in Switzerland, PItschi is a book by Hans Fischer. Like many families in Switzerland, the Grangers have loved this story and it is now in the safe hands of their current children, one of whom performs the story at the Edinburgh Fringe is a delightful transfer from page to stage.


Each country or region in the world has its own tales loved by families, remembered from childhood. For the Granger family, who set up and run the legendary arts venue Komedia in Brighton and Bath in the UK, Pitschi is one of them, drawn from the Swiss side of their family, Marina.
Pitschi is a cat – a cat with dreams. A cat who goes on a simply but archetypal journey of cat-self-realisation. I’ll say no more because, even as an adult taking a younger child to this enchantingproduction, I don’t want to spoil it for you.
Natasha Granger performs, holding the space as storyteller, and theatre perfomer with poise and ease, supported by projected and gently animated pictures from the book’s original art work. That art work is cleverly mirrored in the physical staging. It’s a witty and delightful feat, weaving projected images and physical set together, giving both a reason to be part of this production design. It allows the magic of the book to becomes woven into the live rendition. It goves us some new, live theatre, but also immerses us in the original artwork.
There’s plenty of interaction with an audience that were mostly under-ficves and their parents, but I’d suggest the story itself would appeal to at least 7-8 years olds as well. There’s a bit of magic here that spoke even to this jaded forty-something reviewer. Part of that comes from the accessible style of the production – it is all done with wise simplicity, the colours of soft and reasasuring. We are in safe hands, we we ean forward, watch, listen and savour every visual and heard moment.
The bravely simple staging and charming cloth animals are part of the virtue of this piece, allowing the children’s own imaginations to more than meet the story half-way. Natasha Granger carries the tale with ease. She’s warm. speaks with clarity, places and takes props with carefulness, and demonstrates a curiousity for the story as if she is telling it for the first time.
Occasionally the back-projected pictures feel a little too unhinged from the live theatre; in other places they feel perfectly woven in. This is what happens when projectors are placed with clunky looking screens that don’t quite fit the rest of the set. There’s scope here to experiment with screen shape and placement.
This is a tale about accepting who you are and it is revelaed through the narrative and not through any clunkiiy overly "message". The very young won’t get that message intelllectually but they will feel in in their hearts. That’s what the symbols in stories do, even as we are babes in arms. The story has a dreamy mood in places and the company has been courageous enough not to hurry things and to trust in the attention of all children when a good story is well told.
Pitchi, the smallest and most delicate cat of them all is also the most curious, the one apart who years to be something "other". That "other" turns to face the little hero is Pitschi himself. We are as we are because that is who we are meant to be.
Charming, lovingly brought to the Fringe with accomplished design, strong writing and delivery, Komedia have created 45 minutes of pure magic for young children.


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