Edinburgh Fringe 2012
Tucked In, the puppetry company that brought the Fringe ‘Tim & Light’ in 2011 returns with a sweet piece of funny storytelling.
What I am drawn to about children’s theatre is its complete lack of pretension. Children are the harshest critics; if they don’t like something they’re watching they will simply stop paying attention or will loudly and avidly vocalise their dislike. You also have to be aware, however, that you are entertaining not only the children but their accompanying parents and you have to decide how to approach the split audience sensibility. The best children’s theatre companies must therefore capture the imagination and sense of humour of their young audience, whilst still being able to through subtle lines the adult’s way.
It is a good thing, therefore, that Tucked In seem to be absolute masters of their art. ‘The Golden Cowpat’ is the story of a farm in a faraway land, owned by Hector the Farmer on which lives his pride a joy: a large herd of cows. The story focuses around the most troublesome of Hector’s beloved cows, Betty. Betty enjoys cow-tipping the other cows and defecating gold. The story told is by the main storyteller Robin Hemmings, assisted by the ‘House Band’, otherwise known as Anna Wheatley on a large range of instruments. This lovely tale of farmyard fortune is beautifully off-set by beautifully simple, funny and gorgeously inventive musical interludes. The songs are ludicrously catchy and amazingly well performed by the angelic-voiced Wheatley. Hemmings’ performance is wonderfully simple as the storyteller and demonstrates a level of acting which transcends simple storytelling and truly captures the full attention of even the youngest audience member.
Having seen the company perform the stunning puppet theatre piece ‘Tim & Light’ in 2011 the starkly simple story of ‘Golden Cowpat’ left me wanting a lot more than I was given. There were very little problems with this charming piece of storytelling, and I can only really call it a piece of ‘storytelling’ as opposed to a piece of ‘theatre’, the only recognisable moment when Hemmings seemed to lose the young audience was an auction scene which extended a little too long.
Tucked In are truly one of the most accomplished children’s theatre companies at the Fringe. They have total understanding of their audience, unlimited imagination and an overwhelming sense of wanting to ‘play’ with their audience and with the theatrical medium. They are the company that never grew up, and my goodness it makes good theatre.