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Edinburgh Fringe 2016


Scratchworks Theatre Company

Genre: Comedic, Family, Fringe Theatre, Physical Theatre

Venue: Pleasance Dome


Low Down

“Meet Nel: a foley artist. She brings films to life through sound. In her world, epic fight scenes are a symphony of snapping celery and cracking rhubarb. Nel is good at this stuff – it’s the rest of her life that’s a disaster. She needs help and maybe a change of shoes.”


This talented theatre company were a delight to watch. My twelve year-old reviewer and I enjoyed every minute of this fast paced jam packed show. The performers worked impressively well together, moving as one unit, they demonstrated trust and confidence in each other as they rattled through this challenging and multi textured show.

A cinematic experience without technology, Nel is about “Nel”, a creative genius in her working life at turning cereal boxes into ethereal dreamy filmatic scenes as socks filled with flour become deliciously crunching feet in snow, and a personal favourite of mine, a hot water bottle scraped purposefully across a kitchen counter can confuse the senses and sound a lot like car wheels screeching.

But those around Nel have many views about how her personal life is playing out, commenting on her lack of friends and activities, her worried Aunt trying to, and mostly failing, to offer parental guidance. Nel, we learn, tends to find safety in cosying up with her pets, eating cold snacks in comfy clothes and experimenting with sound effects to try out at work.

As we uncover more about Nel and watch the conflicts and self doubts play out before us, we are given an opportunity to reflect on the expectations of others. When Nel remembers her true self, when she is her her flow of creativity, she finally lets her quirks and oddities and calm individuality take centre stage. In the same way that the hot water bottle can become a car chase, Nel can become more colourful versions of herself when those around her step back and just appreciate her uniqueness and potentiality.

This show is a humble slice into a normal person’s life, brought alive with breathtaking viscerality. The performers don’t take their eyes or attention off each other for a second, flowing in and out of well developed characters, impressive accents, and warm humour being both part of and in the scenes stepping into speaking parts and back into more abstract beings with professional ease.

This show is an accomplishment, the ease as which it is delivered I suspect doesn’t reflect the hours of planning, preparation and rehearsal to keep something so complex seeming so effortless. A joy to experience.