Skip to main content

The Book of Beasts

Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
4 stars
“Where’s the beast?” murmured the little voice from the front stalls as the Prime Minister knocked on young Lionel’s door to anoint him with a kingdom far bigger than the toy-box which already fires the little boy’s imagination. With great power, though, comes even greater responsibility, as Lionel learns when he unwittingly unleashes a red dragon into his empire. This comes from curiosity as he flips through the pages of a dusty old library book, where the most exotic breeds lie in wait. What at first appears cute, however, soon gobbles up the local football team, the politicians debating how to deal with the national crisis and even the occupants of the local orphanage. Only the allure of the Book itself can save the nation.

Catherine Wheels’ fun-size adaptation of The Railway Children author E Nesbit’s charming rites of passage yarn takes what could be potentially unwieldy material and lets flights of fancy run wild. Without recourse to any of the big-screen special effects of Jumanji, a film which similarly unleashed a big city jungle into the world, all this is achieved through subliminal hints made flesh out of bits of material, lighting changes and the sheer story-telling charm of the trio of performers.

As Ian Cameron and Gill Robertson double up as narrators, nurses and uncharacteristically cowardly creatures in Jo Timmins’ bright-eyed production, Scott Turnbull makes for a heroic man-boy as Lionel. With the whole shebang pulsed along by David Trouton’s jaunty piano processionals, the power of the show comes through its none literal interpretation of the story. “That’s magic,” sums up a voice from behind. And it was.

The Herald, March 23rd 2009

ends

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Clybourne Park

Adam Smith Theatre, Kirkcaldy Four Stars
It’s a case of whoops, there goes the neighbourhood twice over in Rapture Theatre’s revival of Bruce Norris’ Pulitzer Prize-winning play, which opens in 1959 in the same Chicago suburb where Lorraine Hansberry’s drama, A Raisin in the Sun, which appeared that year, is set. Here, Robin Kingsland’s Russ and his wife Bev, played by Jackie Morrison, are preparing to move out of their now almost empty des-res following a family tragedy.
Unknown to them, the bargain basement price tag has enabled a black family to move in, with Jack Lord’s uptight Karl a self-appointed spokesperson for the entire ‘hood. Russ and Bev’s black maid Francine (Adelaide Obeng) and her husband Albert (Vinta Morgan), meanwhile, bear witness to a barrage of everyday racism. Fast forward half a century, and a white family are trying to buy the same house, albeit with a heap of proposed changes which the black couple representing the block’s now much more diverse community aren’t…

Michael Rother - Sterntaler at 40

"There's so much to do," says an uncharacteristically flustered Michael Rother. The normally unflappably beatific German guitarist, composer and former member of Neu! and Harmonia, who also had a stint in a nascent Kraftwerk, is packing for live dates in Russia and the UK, including this weekend's show at the Queen Margaret Union in Glasgow.
"It has always been my choice to take care of these things myself and not have a manager," he says. "Somehow for me the independent aspect of doing things is really important, but it has its disadvantages."
As well as playing selections from Neu! and Harmonia, the trio he formed with Dieter Moebius and Hans Joachim Roedelius of Cluster, Rother's Glasgow date will see him play a fortieth anniversary rendering of his second solo album, Sterntaler, in full. Rother will be accompanied by guitarist Franz Bargmann and drummer Hans Lampe, the latter of whose musical involvement with Rother dates back to Neu! days, …

Suzy Glass – Message from the Skies

Freedom of movement matters to Suzy Glass, the arts and events producer currently overseeing the second edition of Message from the Skies.This animated literary derive around the city forms part of this year’s Edinburgh’s Hogmanay programme, and runs right through till Burns’ Night. Glass’ concerns are inherent in the event itself, which has commissioned six writers from different disciplines and experiences to each pen a love letter to Europe. Each writer has then paired up with a composer and visual artist or film-maker, with the results of each collaboration projected in monumental fashion on the walls of one of half a dozen of the capital’s most iconic buildings.
With venues stretching from the south side of Edinburgh to Leith, and with one city centre stop requiring a walk up Calton Hill, there is considerable legwork required to complete the circuit. It shouldn’t be considered a race, however, and audiences are free to move between venues at their leisure, visiting each site on d…