For Families Reviews


Farleywood Farm is Going for Gold

I went to see little GIANT perform in last year's Fringe Festival with my children and we were all highly entertained. So obviously this year my mini reviewers and I went along with high expectations from the Farmyard.

The show did not disappoint. The tone is set on your entry into the hall where Ruth Cockburn as guitar playing fox gently greets the audience. My four year old was very adamant that the animals were just people who were dressed up but none the less watched in open mouthed wonder. The costume and make-up clearly defined each animal.

Farmer Jill and Derek the Dog are in rehearsals for an Olympic dance competition...but who can you spot spying in the bushes trying to steal ideas and costumes? Thrills, talking animals, Irish dancing by a dog and a puppet show this production has them all. There is even an opportunity for the audience to join in a slow motion running race where prizes are given to participants.

The show's message is how to be a champion through focus and good attention. Parents will love the 80's references to Karate Kid, The A Team and of course Record Breakers! Although I am not so sure about how well the Prince William joke fitted in!

Although all the actors did a good job, my personal favourite was Lilliana the Llama, played by Sarah Breen, with her wonderful accent, strong organisational skills and as for those leg-warmers!!! My four year old mini loved the enthusiasm of Isaac Boardwell as Blaze the young sheep dog and my six year old spent the afternoon being a pony, so hats off to the inspirational Amy Forrest as Pippa.

It is always important when taking children to a show that they can see it. Mats at the front ensure that your child will not have a big grown-up sat in front of them.

All in all a solid piece of children's theatre that will have your minis staring in open mouthed wonder at the array of talking animals, even though they will insist that 'they are only people dressed up as animals!'

Jayne Marling

14th + 21st July 10.30-11.30am then noon-1pm Bath Road Church Centre ages 3+

ONE WINDY DAY... - Theatre By Numbers

One Windy Day...

f you are looking for something for the younger children in your family in this year's Fringe you could try this show. Co-written by the troupe and local children, it is aimed squarely at the 3-6 age range. It also has the added benefit of involving a walk in the woods.

The tale of Leonie and her friend Zionah takes place partly in this world, and partly in another. Fortunately for us it looks remarkably like ours and will not scare children. It has some nicely observed touches that will be familiar to all parents, and probably any older siblings taken along.

All the children at this performance enjoyed the show, so I guess the actors couldn't ask for more. Oh, the parents did too.

As it takes place outside there is, as it is summer, a chance of rain - so check the weather forecast and dress appropriately!

Ian Parker Heath


Tales From Scallywag Island (credit: Gary Keane)

Pity the poor pirates from Scallywag Island, their fleet cut in twain on the high seas south of Buxton as one of their vessels was holed beneath the waterline by a scurvy cement truck. But the show must go on as Emma and Gary of Little Gem Storytelling survived a car crash on the way and made it to Buxton to tell their tales of adventure and derring-do from their secret hideout on Scallywag Island.

They had a lovely manner of engaging the audience, checking out that we weren't Navy because only pirates are allowed on the island, and making sure we all signed up to the pirate code. But controversy was stirred when the final rule banned women, which led an indignant Emma to tell the first story about the famous woman pirate, Mary Reed, her colleagues Anne Bonnie and Calico Jack, and their terrorising of the seas around Jamaica.

With girls properly admitted to Scallywag Island there were more stories about the tiny tailor who defeated the giants in return for the "standard fairytale reward" - half a kingdom and the princess's hand in marriage; Li Chi, who defeated a serpent and freed her village; and a story we helped make up at the end.

At times the performance seemed a little unrehearsed, although being fair, involvement in a car crash on your way to a show would disturb anyone's savoir faire! A little more pace might help as well, I realise there is always a fear of not giving value for money but sometimes less is more with kids shows.

I liked the Horrible Histories-style segment when they debunked some pirate myths about walking the plank and buried treasure, but told some gory true stories about the real meanings behind pirate flags and the legendary Blackbeard.

The blurb says the show is suitable for kids aged 7+ but my 6 year old enjoyed it, so don't be afraid to give it a go.

Steve Walker

THE CHRONICLES OF ARNICA by Tom Crawshaw - REC Theatre Company

REC Theatre Company | The Chronicles Of Arnica

In this lovely new theatre with minimal set and imaginative props this talented bunch of young people treated us to a very funny comedy adventure in a land 'somewhere between Narnia, Oz and Wonderland'. Indeed some of the references makes me think that there could be a series to follow!

The author Tom Crawshaw blends together references to the modern world gone mad with the more traditional stories from CS Lewis and L Frank Baum and a nod to Lewis Carol.

When four ordinary children are left in a large house with a large toy collection that is 'not for children', and an old lady they don't know, to keep them safe from a world beset with warring celebrities, they decide to find the toys to take their minds off missing their parents.

The wardrobe page of the Argos catalogue is the surprising gateway to a land where it is always warm and Christmas every day, ruled by the Wicked White Witch Queen, and so the adventure begins. Will the children fulfil the prophecy? Will Father Christmas ever get a day off? Why are there so many toys? And why do the animals keep disappearing?

I particularly enjoyed Mr Dodo and Asda's portrayals and comic timing but really it is unfair to pick out any one performance - everyone involved were faultless, word perfect with great inflection and interpretation. Well done!

This delightful offering performed by children for children is very appealing for adults too I would highly recommend you take a seat and sit back and enjoy! Thank you.

Linda McAlinden


Puppets were the order of the day in an open workshop offered by stone and water. Brightly coloured flags and mobiles bedecked the area set out to attract Buxton youngsters and their parents in the Pavilion Gardens.

So my youngster and I arrived hoping to find lots of children busying themselves making puppets and having a great time, but we were a little sad to find we were the only ones there. There had been some earlier we were assured, and a small boy called Robin bought his mum and her friend along to join the fun. We made an excellent faerie with a flower head and we enjoyed our time in the company of nice people.

There were pipe-cleaners galore, fabric, sticky tape boxes, card and felt tip pens all going begging for the want of more participants! Where were you all? The weather wasn't great it must be said, but there are so few Fringe events for children it was a shame more were not there. Stone and water will be out there again tomorrow. Will you?

Ian Parker Heath

TREASURE ISLAND - Uncontained Arts

Treasure Island

My guilty pleasure during Fringe time is a really good family show - the kids just come as cover.

Treasure Island is a rip-roaring swashbuckling high seas adventure from Uncontained Arts, who turn the Paupers Pit into a pirate ship and a mysterious island for an hour of unadulterated fun.

It's a great introduction to R.L. Stevenson's classic work as we meet all those wonderful characters - Billy Bones, Black Dog, Captain Smollett, and, of course, Long John Silver - as Honest Jim Hawkins and his pirate friends set off to sea in search of treasure and adventure, though I'm not sure I recall Pew the farting parrot or the cheesy curse of the island from the original! But all the elements of a pirate adventure are here, a treasure map, walking the plank, yo ho ho's, not to mention plenty of water as we encounter a sea fret!

From the moment we enter the theatre to be greeted by our friendly pirate hosts, the kids (of all ages) are involved in the adventure. There's lots of excitement - singing, clapping, shouting, pointing and laughing. I was hoarse with shouting pirate 'argh's!

More than anything, what makes a family show is complete commitment from the cast and that's what we got from the four actors in this show. The energy levels never dropped and the kids were enthralled from beginning to end.

Pirates? ARGH!

Steve Walker