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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Bumble’s Big Adventure

Hollins University Theatre Department (Virginia, USA)

Genre: Children's Theatre, Family, Storytelling

Venue: C Aquila


Low Down

Bumble is a bee who wants to spread their wings and fly to find the bee balm flower as a surprise for their mother. By making the trek on their own, setting off on their Big Adventure, they bump into a variety of characters from Daisy the Flower to Mona the Butterfly, Woody the Wasp to Patch the Fruit Bat as Bumble gets lost but has all these new friends to help them return. By the end, Bumble has found that the purest message is the one that comes from friendship.


There is little doubting the enthusiasm shown by this group of young actors. They have brought a tale that is simple at its heart but warming in its nature. This morning their crowd, the under 5s who can be a tough crowd, are generally engaged and  wanting to listen intently. There are a couple who struggle, and our young crew try gainfully to keep them on board.

As such the interactive nature of freezing the action to remind our characters onstage to just be nice helps and as a structure there is a lot of merit in making that element part of retaining attention.

Where it does struggle is in some of the direction. It is vital that you make sure that your direction is slick which delivers an increased level of confidence in the performance. At times there is a hesitancy in delivering the lines which can be tricky in working young audiences. Young children can be brutal in a theatre and whilst having a number of highly supportive people in the crowd is a help it needs to translate more readily onto the stage.

Most of the time, the script has been pitched at just the right level, but the technical terminology can be challenging for a younger audience. Retaining the big words can suggest environmental or academic authenticity or you are not condescending, but it can also lead to children getting a little lost. By retaining the technical words, it can sound too dense a topic for young ears. It needs to be further simplified.

Props were kept to a minimum and I did like the costume ideas. Bringing any form of elaborate set across from the US was never going to be likely but a pot of paint to brighten the few little pieces of set that were there, would give the target audience something else at which to marvel. I did, however, love the way the sun going down was done – that was particularly clever.

This was an exceptionally pleasant morning’s entertainment with the narrator, in particular, being a  plus which drew us all on board. Deciding to have a go at work for this young audience is bold and ambitious. Oftentimes people think this is the easy option rather than some kind of dense Shakespearean text. That is not the case and if Hollins University proved anything it was that they have the ambition to make it work for such a young audience and credit is due for that alone.