Edinburgh Festival Fringe children’s show review: Annabelle’s Skirting Board Adventure, reviewed by The Scotsman’s David Pollock
Comprising the less-than-likely double act of Little Howard creator Howard Read and Steve Pretty of Hackney Colliery Band, Annabelle’s Skirting Board Adventure seamlessly fuses the pair’s joint skills in comedy, music and interaction with animated characters.
Suitable for a spread of ages from toddler to 12, it’s a light but action-filled hour, although grown-ups who might want to observe how the onstage magic is created will note that it’s also a real technical tour de force.
Pretty is introduced as Steve the Storyteller and Read as “Arthur the man”, our lead character, who shares his house with Annabelle, the world’s smallest elephant, and Icarus the moth, who eats people’s jumpers and loves to fly off into the stage lights. The creation of these animated characters is ingenious; using handheld cameras fixed to Read’s wrist, the handle of a door or the floor, for example, we are shown live footage of the performers and audience intercut with the animations. It all looks pretty simple, which is testament to the planning and meticulous timing which must have gone into the show.
The beauty of Annabelle’s Skirting Board Adventure is how live it feels, with children encouraged to “speak” to the beasts via the video screen, so they can see themselves in the show, and sing a “song of revolution” which is all about how Arthur wants them to clean his car. Read reacts well to being called a “bum bum nut” during the course of his audience interactions, while Pretty rather sweetly performs Annabelle as a child-like, half-understood voice by “speaking” through his trumpet.
Rather beautifully perched in the bracket of being fun for all ages, including all the parents and carers, it’s a show which is unlikely to be outdone on originality anywhere else on the Fringe.
Just the Tonic at the Community Project (Venue 27), run ended
Published in The Scotsman on 29 August 2015
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