By S Mulvihill
On the way into the Old Lab at Summerhall there is a cut out of a tree with a large stuffed tiger underneath. The simple block colours of the display draw the children, here to attend this morning of dance and play, each enjoying their own movement and discovery before the performance even begins. For that is the essence of this show; encouraging everyone present to move and be affected individually by this beautifully crafted show from Scottish Dance Theatre, where the maxim of Jean Piaget “construction is superior to instruction” reigns freely.
Once in the theatre we are all instructed to put our coats and shoes aside and sit round in a circle on the floor. There is a calm and friendly atmosphere, with members of the cast sitting amongst the audience and chatting before everyone is ready. An introduction tells us that this is a place to watch, a place to move and a place to play. Based around William Blake’s early experiences and poetry the four dancers morph into different animals, build a tree, create stunning tableaus and draw the children into another world with a delicate yet strong fluidity. They use simple devices like getting their audience to close their eyes so once opened they’re transported somewhere else, and large pieces of paper that act as leaves and are shaken to create the sound of a rainstorm. The lighting is absolutely perfectly placed, leaving the dancers in colour that emphasises the character they are being in any given moment, or washing the room to highlight the mood. The real centre of the piece is provided by Paul Bradley’s fantastic original score, played solo live with the aid of a loop pedal, a guitar and some excellent beat-boxing.
There are very few shows aimed at, or even suitable for, young children at the fringe. It is refreshing to have a company so prepared, so willing even, to allow children to be children and engage fully in their own way. No one is concerned when a toddler wanders off around the stage, as Scottish Dance Theatre create a safe environment where expression is paramount. Altogether this is a well designed performance that anyone with a young child in Edinburgh should do their best to catch.
15th August, 10:00 (35mins) at Summerhall