Edinburgh Fringe 2013
Young company of five take on many parts to tell us all about Scarlet who lost her grand mere. She is now living with her wicked sister who likes to treat her badly. One day she goes off into the forest to look for her grand mere and on the way meets a variety of characters – a gnome, a bunny rabbit, a vicar and a fox – who guide her towards her grand mere’s house. There she is tricked by the fox into the magic basket. With the help of her fairy, magic Bon Bons and the audience she manages to get out, dump the fox in the basket, break the spell that had kept her grand mere in limbo and save the day!
With the suspension of disbelief we are able to accept this enthusiastic group of young performers as everything from wild animals to a French sister who has a very hairy English brother. The story does eventually fall into a cross between Cinderella and Red Riding Hood but is none the poorer for that. We follow Scarlet as she goes into the forest and then rescues grand mere – Madame Crimson – eventually. As we leave poor old Fox is left suck in the magic basket without even a curtain call.
This is a nice little tale told with sufficient simplicity that the narrative works even for the very young and there was plenty of evidence of that in the audience. There are enough set pieces that it manages to work whilst fitting within the narrative to allow for interactivity without the feeling that it is shoe horned into it just to keep people awake. In short the theatricality is a help and not a hindrance.
All of the performers have the right level of enthusiasm and gusto. I felt sorry for the Fox as his appearance downstairs terrified one of the young audience who burst into tears. He was then terrified when the Fox appeared but between nursery staff who calmed him and the quality of his performance that fear subsided into a high 5!
There are enough by way of costume changes and decent costumes to keep the young ones up to speed with the narrative whilst the interactive nature of the event is at the right pace for all of us. The set was littered with petals and sweeties giving it that fairytale air that never left us. It never really flagged though there was little by way of trickery or innovation to make us go wow.
This is a young company who have really understood what their job is, got their heads down and got on with it and that is all to their credit. Whilst Bon Bon will never end up as a classic it manages to take us on a flight of fancy for an hour that is thoroughly enjoyable. It might not be Dahl but it is hardly Enid Blyton either.