Children’s show: The Bookbinder
Children’s show: The Bookbinder

Edinburgh Festival Fringe children’s show review: The Bookbinder, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Fiona Shepherd. ★★★★ With much love, care and attention to detail, New Zealand’s Trick of the Light Theatre spin an old-fashioned and, yes, magical adventure yarn to get lost in for an hour. A young boy (never named) is taken on as an …

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The Bookbinder

Edinburgh Festival Fringe children’s show review: The Bookbinder, reviewed by The Scotsman’s Fiona Shepherd.

★★★★

With much love, care and attention to detail, New Zealand’s Trick of the Light Theatre spin an old-fashioned and, yes, magical adventure yarn to get lost in for an hour. A young boy (never named) is taken on as an apprentice bookbinder with the proviso that, in practising his craft, he should not do anything that cannot be undone. A mysterious customer visits the workshop with an intriguing book and the boy falls, Mr Ben-like, into the epic fable it tells – but a page of the story flutters free and creates all sorts of havoc for our junior explorer.

From behind his desk, writer Ralph McCubbin Howell tells his tale with a winning mix of dramatic portent and straight-back-down-to-earth humour, spiriting us into the eye of the storm using an inventive variety of props and media, including an immaculately illustrated pop-up book, inky splodges in water, shadow puppetry in lampshades and other lighting tricks.

A couple of words of warning though: despite its universal rating, a reference to our Lord and Saviour on his bicycle does make an appearance at one point, and some of the language is adult in other ways, perhaps best explained to young ones with the use of a thesaurus.

As well as leaving with an expanded vocabulary, or at least an understanding of how to use the word “literally” properly, both kids and grown-ups may also leave with a sore neck from straining to catch all of the minute action. The relatively shallow slope of the auditorium, the lack of a raised stage and the positioning of puppets combine to make this show a difficult watch when it is really anything but.

Assembly Roxy (Venue 139) until 31 August / listings

Credit: Stephen Coutler

Published in The Scotsman on 28 August 2015

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