Musicals review: Forest Boy | Freak Show

Edinburgh Festival Fringe Scotsman review: Forest Boy and Freak Show, both at Assembly George Square (Venue 3), reviewed by Fiona Shepherd

These two new musicals by Claire McKenzie and Scott Gilmour, presented by the students of the Royal Conservatoire of Scotland and Noisemaker Productions, run on alternative days in the Bosco Tent in George Square Gardens.

The smaller cast of Forest Boy (★★) have the harder sell in transforming their canvas home into a German forest for this Kaspar Hauser-like story of a boy who claimed to have been raised in the wild by his father following the death of his mother. However, lesson one of acting class – the one where you pretend to be a tree – certainly comes in handy as the chorus get sculptural with their bodies. Otherwise, the tale is pretty garbled in the telling and the pastoral flavours of the songs wisp by without leaving much of an impression.

The Freak Show (★★) ensemble have the advantage of a sympathetic environment and greater jazz hands potential in their scenario, which first introduces the characters and acts in a travelling freak show and then metaphorically rotates the set for a glimpse backstage at the back stories.

The “dolly sisters” number, featuring a competitive mermaid, a crappy contortionist and an old woman of debatable vintage, provides the most diverting turn in a generally underwhelming display of freakiness. Lauren Norris emerges with the vocal and acting distinctions as Gloria Rey, the embittered Half Lady, but some of her fellow players are not as secure with the technical demands of the score. The delivery of the entire troupe borders on shrieky hysteria by the end of the show.


Forest Boy, until 25 August. Tomorrow 3:20pm

Freak Show, until 26 August. Today 3:20pm

Originally published in The Scotsman

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