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Edinburgh Fringe 2010

The Princess’ Blanket

Carol Ann Duffy, Jon Sampson and Ella Duffy

Genre: Poetry-Based Theatre

Venue: The Scottish Storytelling Centre


Low Down

An afternoon of fairytales, poetry and music from Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, musician, John Sampson and Ella Duffy.


Poet Laureate, Carol Ann Duffy is joined on stage by musician, John Sampson and her daughter, Ella to provide an afternoon of magical entertainment for children and adults alike. Loosely linked by Carol Ann Duffy’s fairy tale, the Princess’ Blanket, this is a cornucopia of a show punctuated by stops for poetry, music and the odd joke.

The Princess’ Blanket is a fairy tale of a princess who cannot get warm whatever she or anyone else does. Her father offers to give anything to the person who can get her warm. A stranger with cold eyes brings her the earth’s blanket, the forest’s blanket, the mountain’s blanket and more but nothing can get her warm. Then a musician wanders into the land and warms her with his music and love.

Carol Ann Duffy reads out this brooding fairy tale with its powerful environmental message. The stage is hung with blown up illustrations from the book – artist, Catherine Hyde’s striking illustrations, provide a wonderful fairy-tale background.

Interspersed with the story, John Sampson plays an amazing variety of pipes and whistles, from all scale of recorders to crum horn, shepherd’s pipes, a pipe from Henry VIII’s day and more.  He plays them with virtuousity and humour. Ella Duffy provides flute, dead-pan humour and poetry.

The trio individually and collectively perform Carol Ann Duffy’s poetry – humorous poems such as Nippy MacLaughlin and Peggy Guggenheim belted out in unison with staccato pacing make the poems everyday, natural and accessible.

The performances are quiet and engaging. There are times when the links seem contrived and there are times when the interruptions to the story are unwelcome, but all in all this is a well-balanced show. The demands of poetry and text make it one for children over eight rather than younger children.

Spending an afternoon with Carol, John and Ella is like spending an enchanted afternoon with your family – if they were that talented. It’s quiet family haven out of the festival frenzy.



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