Edinburgh Fringe 2016
It’s Blytonville as the five we know and loved as kids in a far begotten time reunite on hols at Uncle Quentin’s to stop the racket, start the picnic and foil international intrigue. Typical summertime fun from the 19 whenevers.
The three siblings are sent off for summer to their Aunt Fanny and Uncle Quentin. Whilst there they see mysterious goings on an island close by, get in toe with a young whippersnapper whilst managing to foil the thieves and vagabonds who are closer to home than they thought. It’s all done with lashings of ginger beer and gusto.
Adults playing Enid Blyton’s characters are only going to poke fun and to be honest there is a massive amount of fun to be had with posh accents and the innocence of times gone by. Blyton may have had a limited vocabulary but here almost every trick in the facial expressions and stereotypes’ books are used to good effect. Set in a radio station, of sorts, this zings along like a freshly squeezed lemonade as we find the four humans in search of Timmy who has been dognapped, trying to sort out why there is a single crate on the island, how to get torches over for their search of the caves and getting away whilst tied up before we find out who is behind it all.
The level of technical expertise with which such slapstick and costume changes are done have become comfortable for this polished crew. There is little by way of criticism that can be levelled against a troupe who seem to have mastered the art of a quick change and a smart prop and costume combo. The pace never faltered though at times we laughed heartily and the action moved before we could recover; some of the innuendo got swallowed when we just wanted it spat out.
The script was clearly crafted with a degree of understanding and affection for the original material though at times I felt it pushed over things rather than allowed the action to take its course. It is therefore the direction that I probably felt was missing a bit of a heartbeat.
Any ensemble depends upon the relationships onstage and these were very sound and very well honed. The set was functional and good to see in the days of quick changes for new shows coming in a decent set that was well used.
The costumes were authentic and kitsch whilst the direction at times crisp but then at other times bit began to flag. I certainly thought there was a degree of some imbalance as the first half zipped and the second half faded slightly when you would have thought it should be quite the other way around.
Overall a very decent hour in the company of the 1920’s stalwarts whilst there may be, in my opinion some room for growth it did take me back to a more innocent (?) time with as much of the innocence stripped out as possible.