FRINGE REVIEW – Stage Stars Young Actors Company, Water Babies


17-21 August 14:45 (15:35) @ Greenside

By the McNaughton family review team

This talented young cast have come to the Edinburgh Fringe all the way from Cambridgeshire, performing a magical retelling of the classic Charles Kingsley novel ‘The Water Babies’ incorporating text, music and movement and adapted by Bournemouth based writer Ricky James Rogers.

Director Gemma Hodgson of Stage Stars Theatre Academy has such a wide pool of talented performers whose different specialities inspired her to choose to direct the text in a slightly different way turning it more into a piece of musical theatre rather than simply a straight text based performance.

The story itself focuses on the adventures of a young chimney sweep called Tom and his journey to find the life he truly desires. Originally written in 1862-1863 as a serial for Macmillan’s magazine, it was first published as an entire novel in 1863 and then went on to become extremely popular in its day throughout England. The Water Babies is a moral fable and in some parts could be considered a satire, acting as a tract on the issue of child labour as well as a critique of the close-minded scientists of the day, who were critical of Darwin’s publication of The Origin of the Species, a publication which Kingsley himself praised.

The children have worked with Gemma over the past months in their Sunday morning acting class to bring the performance together and in developing the show, Gemma has been guided by the talents of the children to make best use of dancers, a flautist and singers to add extra sparkle to the performance.

It was a lovely touch that we were welcomed to the theatre by children already in costume and in role, singing and blowing bubbles to set the atmosphere for the play.

Added comments by Helen (12): “Thoroughly enjoyed this performance.  I was amazed that such young children were able to act so well and project their voices to the back of the hall.  They all had an amazing talent for acting. I’d like to get my drama group to perform at the Fringe”

Added comments by Alex (8) “It was very good, and I understood that it was set in Victorian times, but I didn’t understand the bit where he was at the lake.”

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