If Roald Dahl and Tim Burton had ever met and decided to open a travelling circus, the result might have been something close to Les Enfants Terribles’ superb storybook world of Dr Lonitude’s Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie.
Returning to the Fringe with a children’s show for the first time since the critically-acclaimed The Terrible Infants, the company have created another winning world filled with wonderful characters and creations which children and adults alike will fall in love with.
With a skillful mix of puppetry, mime, song and clever use of a Victorian / steampunk style set, the five colourful characters take us on a voyage of discovery around the globe, recounting how a varied selection of fantastical creatures came to be in their possession.
Thus we get treated to the tale of the terrifying bumblewasp, join Dr Longitude and fish-obsessed strongman Popo on their quest for Massive Paw, and take to the clouds with lovable cockernee Flora Bakewell as she searches for the legendary Whistling Pank.
All of this is delivered with an energetic sense of joy that has children in the audience spellbound – and with more than a few knowing gags thrown in to keep mums and dads entertained. The five-strong cast gel together to create a cohesive ensemble, dressed and madeup in Les Enfants’ trademark vaudeville style.
Music and songs are enjoyable slices of clapalong and singalong fun and there are some moments of true magic, such as when the shy and elusive chuffalump finally makes its appearance, where even the adults in the audience will want to believe it is real.
Charming without being patronising; clever without being arch: Oliver Langsey and Anthony Spargo have created another world of wonder which conjures up all the wide-eyed magic of childhood no matter what age you happen to be.
Dr Longitude’s Marvellous Imaginary Menagerie runs at The Pleasance until 25 Aug