How to be a Kid

Paines Plough are back with the beloved roundabout and a stellar line up once again at the festival this year, and their early morning kids offering is a total gem. How to be a Kid is just what any one needs first thing, young or young at heart, and the messages of not growing up too quickly resonate with a lot of the audience. 

Molly does all the cooking and cleaning, and looking after of younger brother when their Nan’s passes away and their Mum is struggling to cope. But Molly is only 12, and with everyone telling her different things about whether she needs to grow up or that she’s just a kid, one day it is all just too much. This show takes us on a break out adventure to find Molly’s inner kid once more, and with some help from Vera and a well timed promo voucher.

Although the story itself could do with a little more background into the family set up, the performances and messages are insightful and heart warming to see, as the bus zooms around the space, they dive in to the pool out of hours and Joe’s diplodocus moves hijack Molly’s cool levels on the walk home making two brothers down the front roar with laughter. With no props or set, the lighting design is crucial and works brilliantly to help us set the scene, from a dark house in the middle of the day to the bright lights of the Golden Arches. 

With chocolate cake, happy meals and a large dose of Taylor Swift, How to be a Kid is a wonderful piece on upside down family life, with a whole lot of heart and the roundabout stage suits the three hander brilliantly. 
How to be a Kid | Paines Plough Roundabout @ Summerhall

P is for Peril

Billed with a family audience in mind for the over 9s in the 10am slot, Us/Them portays the events of a horrific terrorist attack through the eyes of two children in a enlightening and highly relevant piece of theatre.

Based on the tragic day in 2004 when a group of armed terrorists took over 1200 children and parents hostage in School 1 in Beslan, the whole performance is told from the perspective of two un-named children.  The hostage situation lasted for fifty hours resulting in 334 dead, many of which were children.  

As the events unfold, the set changes from a calm cloakroom with children’s coats hanging up to a gymnasium with three barricaded exits, the whole space laced with explosives and terrorists. The two performers are incredibly skilled and committed as they relive the days tragic happenings via a series of maths equations, the drawing of the floor plan of the school and their physical demonstration of the claustrophobic, warm conditions. There is no emotion in their take, as if they are telling a story of an event which happened to a friend or family member.

Unfortunately there was no happy ending on this occasion and the performance really highlights how the media presents the events, and how imagery is skewed to the outside world, making us question the truth. An incredible production brought to Edinbugh as part of the Big in Belgium season, which is a relevant, thought provoking and sinister must see this festival season.

Us/Them | Summerhall | 10am

F is for Fairy Tales

Three is the magic number right? Three musketeers, three bowls of porridge, three witches, three meatloaf songs… (Even if nobody knows the third one!) – so many of life’s collections come in threes and Wrongsemble are in on the action at Summerhall this year with their family show, Three in the early morning slot. 

As the three performers rattle through a feast of fairytales, each linking to the number three in more ways than one, the stories are brought to life in wonderfully, cheery songs and an array of contrasting characters, creating a performance of thoroughly magical storytelling. The Three Wanderers, Goldilocks and the Three Bears and finally, Rumpelstiltskin are all retold in a brand new, topsy turvy way which leaves you questioning which well known character will pop up next as the stories develop and even the post gap-year King gets the audience on side! 

Amongst a beautiful set, and using minimal props to aid their tales, the multi talented trio switch between musical instruments and songs to dialogue with ease, highlighting their skills throughout. 

If a little long, Three shows plenty of spark as each actor takes on multiple roles and new characters emerge one by one. Although the date I attended was a little on the short side of younger audience members, I have no doubt that children of any age would be completely enthralled by this fairy tale mash up – this cheeky performance is definitely one to get out of bed for at the fringe this summer. 

Three | Summerhall | 10:00

E is for Earth, Fire and Water

Paines Plough have got a storming line up at the Roundabout at Summerhall this year and their slice of fun for children is no exception. I got superpowers for my birthday is a collaboration between Half Moon Theatre and Paines Plough, and transforms the space in to a battleground for monsters and an arena of superpowers as three school children get a little more than they bargained for on their thirteenth birthday. 

Ethan, Fiona and William are not friends in school, in fact they couldn’t be more different, but they all have the same birthday. As each of them becomes a teenager, something strange happens and they gain superpowers – Fiona suddenly has fire coming out of her fingertips, Ethan can make the earth shake and William can use water and ice to his advantage.

As the three fight off unwanted guests including Babs the humongous slug, gargoyles and a dragon with an appetite, they soon come to realise that if they join forces, something incredible might just happen.  The Roundabout is brought to life with things that go bump in the night and it is down to our three heroes to protect not only the biggest party of the century, but life on Earth as we know it. 

As one little girl cowered in the front row as the Darkness was unleashed and others wooped and high fived during victory dances, this earth-saving quest makes for a heart warming and exciting adventure. A brilliant production from start to finish as the direction lifts the three superheroes and the monsters off the page fantastically. 

I got superpowers for my birthday | Roundabout @ Summerhall | 11:00