Fringe Online 2022
Jean Kiki lives in a small Scottish seaside town where he wishes things were a little more exciting especially for his lad, Benoit. And so, a cat, Donald is bought for him. Having bought a sea going but not very worthy boat from local café owner, Bucky, Jean Kiki sets off for adventure and fortune, leaving Benoit and Donald to fend for themselves. With this village content to look after their welfare, Benoit and Donald, are coddled within a suitably overflowing local café which is filled with many dishes based on Bucky’s brilliant black pudding. Donald proves himself to be a cat of some means as he goes to the library and gets out self-improvement books. As people gear up for their annual big bash at the factory the local band, a real doggie treat, are short of a drummer. With a how to drum guide in his paws, this crazy cat gets an audition, swings the gig and then plays behind the dogs on the dais. The party is held just in time for the return of Jean Kiki, whose vessel was feared lost, had been reported so in the news but it all turned out that the boat was more resilient than anyone thought possible. Now a man of means and a spice importer, Jean Kiki has the excitement and means to support his family which he needs, and son is reunited with his dad.
From the moment I pressed play util the final song played out; this was just a joy. There is nothing profound within it, though perhaps following your dreams, keeping the faith etc. could be claimed but truly, it was just fun.
Described as whimsical, it draws upon the absurdity of its story to parallel a little with the way things are at present. Hearing of how people could nip in and out of places without a thought for the consequences feels almost like a nostalgic hit as Donald the cat shows a clean pair of heels in the telling of this intriguing tale of his.
The writing is delighted with itself and allows us to be similarly entranced as it dances from the perils of the sea to the problems of getting a decent drummer for a band filled with dogs! Characterization is not too deeply drawn as we need to concentrate more on the story than the inner workings of anyone’s mind but the dogs in the band were, for me a particular triumph.
As an ensemble piece this has been directed with a keen ear on the sound of it all. At all times there was a strength in how the music came across, the dialogue came through the headphones and how we were drawn into the storyline. I cared about the boat not coming back and even though I knew it was likely to end well, I was sad it ended at all.
Given where we are in this world, this final piece of 2021 for the Lyceum’s soundstage shows why radio drama and this format has been such a great new addition to how Scottish theatre survives the current slings and arrows. I am a podcast fan and have plenty to listen to but the addition of really well honed and produced drama from the theatre in Lyceum has been a wee thrill to add to the mix.