Edinburgh Festival Fringe children’s show review: Alfie White: Space Explorer, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Kelly Apter.
You don’t have to look far to find a reconstructed family these days, but back in the 1960s it was a little more unusual. Which is why young Alfie White has a tough time of it in primary school. Mum left when he was very small, Dad disappeared two years ago – so now he lives with Gran. “Why don’t you disappear, too?” teases Stan, the class bully.
Home isn’t much better, where Alfie and Gran stumble through stilted conversations, dealing with their own private sadness.
Happily for Alfie, and the audience, he’s got a rocket-fuelled passion that gets him through the day: outer space. That, and lovely Meg – the only person in school never to cast a mean word in his direction.
As we’ve come to expect from children’s theatre company Tall Stories, Alfie’s life is played out through energetic, physical storytelling. Actors Jordan Turner and Lucy Tuck switch with ease between narrating and playing a range of characters, as Alfie’s quest to find his father unfolds.
The backdrop to this very personal tale is a global news story – the space race. Set in 1967, with Russia and America rushing to land on the Moon, the staging and costumes perfectly capture the unique style of the era.
Another nice touch comes via the music – original jazz recordings from the 1940s and 50s by the Malcolm Mitchell Trio (real life father to Tall Stories co-director, Toby Mitchell and source of a lovely plot twist in the show).
Tall Stories may be best known for its lively, song-filled adaptations of Julia Donaldson books (The Gruffalo, Room on the Broom) but it also has a solid reputation for original, well-crafted stories that touch real human emotions – just like this one.
Pleasance Courtyard (Venue 33) until 30 August / listings
Published in The Scotsman on 18 August 2015
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