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Edinburgh Fringe 2023

Whipped Up!

Soap and Rope Theatre

Genre: Children's Theatre, Comedy, Interactive

Venue: Greenside at Nicholson Square


Low Down

Targeted at those who can crawl or just have the ability to engage, we are all welcomed into the theatre space to meet Dottie. Dottie has her first day at the restaurant and in this 1950’s American Diner we are invited to seat our babies, engage with the menu, pick our treats and then play along as Dottie hosts our time together. Though all of us having the same order and then similar feedback the young charges are encouraged to come into the centre of the piece and play away without any cares in the world.


This does exactly what it promises – it is a safe and tactile environment in which carnage from the ones who wish to indulge in play, can be managed – or at least an attempt is made to manage them – by our host. The format is well rehearsed and though it is dependant heavily upon what the babies and toddlers shall do – or refuse to do – there is clearly a link between the engagement of young minds through the delivery of a fun, but structured place in which to play.
The question would always be: is it theatrical? As the format ends with is simply a playdate, then it could be suggested that unstructured play is hardly a theatrical event. The fact is that that playdate is able to happen because of the set up prior to it. Dotti manages the mayhem comfortably and with sufficient gags above the heads of the babies, the audience of young parents is delighted to see, this it is not just them who can have trouble in making their babies do what they expect, but here is a good few minutes of respite and collective discovery.
On the day that I attended 30% of the adults were male and at least one baby dragged their sibling into the performance. They were critical for the thing to work. Gender and the ability of men to recognise its struggle is always a challenge in itself, but also the delight of a sibling in seeing their father/ sister /brother as someone with whom to play brings another dynamic int the mix.
It is that dynamic that works so well. Dottie is a very well honed and brilliant host. At no time was anyone made to feel that their baby was being singled out for the humour, but everyone felt it was her self-deprecating approach which was comfortable enough to allow parents to breathe and be in a place where they could enjoy their babies. That’s no small thing given the amount of pressure on parents to get everything right enough or right full stop.
It’s a free and well imagined place as the babies see something which they may recognise, and the props are clearly now well enough developed that all types of child could be encouraged to be part of the experience. Lighting was at full as babies were encouraged to crawl and explore with care givers given the right to intervene when necessary. It’s standard fare and I could see some of the principles of Solihull – the dance of reciprocity – being utilised and whilst this may not be anything more than happy happenstance, it is something that really does educationally fit within the remit of being a heck of a lot more than worthy. With some focus on pre early years within theatre over the last few years, this is a reminder that simple can often be effective.