Edinburgh Fringe 2015
“The Snot Zombies are back! More bogies, books and bottom burps with award-winning author Stuart Reid and his crazy characters, Gorgeous George and Grandpa Jock. Definitely see this before lunch.”
Stuart Reid is the award-winning writer of the Gorgeous George Books. Reid thinks books are brilliant, loves reading and this is a show that celebrates that and encourages children to enjoy and keep reading.
Reid is an endearing performer who has no difficulty commanding the stage. He’s a stand-up, a bit of a clown, a storyteller, and an educator. All of the educational bits are rooted in fun, and the calls to buy his books in the show are direct, cheeky and never too intrusive within the show itself. This is a show about Reid himself, telling the tale of how his books got written and using that as a platform to share a couple of story extracts and also share his passion for reading and for books as well. It’s all very sincere and that passion is infectious. The energy only dipped a bit in the second half. Otherwise, the children were fully engaged throughout.
The choice of venue means the lighting was a bit gloomy and, from the back, it wasn’t always easy to see everything. If you go – and I recommend you do – then get a seat nearer the front if you can.
Reading Rocks! – and it certainly rocked in Maggie’s Chamber. Reid shares his love of writing and shares a few stories along the way, supported by some slides and film that will shock you for all the right comedic reasons.
And yes, this is also an advert for his books but it is the enthusiastic celebration of books and reading that carries the show’s charm and impact. Reid’s comedy and writing realm is full of snot and zombies – he talks the language of childhood and, in speaking that language so fluently, he is able to lead children away from TV and computer game screens back towards printed words on paper and their own active imaginations. Judging by the queue of parents and children to buy books at the end of the show, Reid achieves his aim.
His show is full of direct conversation with the audience who are certainly up for a chat about shot and zombies. That directness and breaking of the fourth wall creates the needed interaction.
Reid loves being an author. This isn’t an author hiding behind an agent. This is an author out on the road at the Fringe and looking his readers right in the eye. The wackiness of his books and their titles are matched by the material in the show – a mix of standuppish delivery and some projected pictures and tag lines and a bit of animation that are all interesting and funny.
The star of the show is the snot, the love children (and adults) have of snot, bogies and farts. But all of this is a clever way of offering a fairly straight polemic about books and reading. The snot comedy weaves in and out of a narrative that succeeds. This is well crafted and delivered edutainment. “Turning words on a page into a movie in your mind is the best skill ever. That’s why books are brilliant” shouts Reid. This is s man with a mission on the Free Fringe – On Day Zero the nearly full house at the Free Sisters were clearly up for joining in.
And in case you were worried it was only snot, there’s poo as well. Of course.
Theatre makers are selling their work at the Fringe. Musicians play their new albums and songs at the Fringe. So why do books have to be shared only at snotty book festivals ? They don’t. Stuart Reid has brought his books onto the Fringe stage, made the show free and would give plenty of the dedicated children’s performers a run for their money. I’m 49 and it certainly made me want to check out his books. I would like to see this show played in a better lit venue and with a bit more attention paid to those right at the back. That aside, I’m more than happy to recommend this important and enjoyable children’s show.