Starbird Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show info
Toto Tales
Alasdiar Crone (Director), Mara Menzies (Writer), Florence Menzies (Costume), Alan Melvin (Set)
Julie Heatherill (Starbird), Mara Menzies (Storyteller and Hunter)
Running time

As fantastic as the Fringe Festival is, there’s no denying that everyone involved has days of utter exhaustion when they’d quite happily click their fingers and make the madness disappear. Or at least be able to walk down the street without having to find your inner ninja.

But inevitably the magic of performance wins over, and no matter how big the grey cloud is over your head, there are some shows that easily push it away and help you find your second, third, fourth, or even 80th wind by catapulting you away from the everyday.

Starbird by Toto Tales is such a show.

An incredible fusion of global contemporary cultures, inspired by Booker Prize winner Ben Okri, the company successfully expresses humour and fragility in a perfectly pitched production that entices children to become utterly engrossed in the story without ever being condescending. Starbird is a spellbinding fusion of interactive storytelling, dance, puppetry, song and a stunning soundtrack incorporating music from different cultures including Kenya, Tibet, Cameroon, the USA and Scotland.

We follow the story of Starbird (Julie Heatherill), an incredibly beautiful and magical bird with wings that sparkled like jewels and who cared for her family in the safety of her forest home. But her peaceful existence is challenged when Starbird is forced to protect her home and little Starchicks from a hunter (Mara Menzies).

Oppression, pride, perseverance and compassion are all dealt with in this delightful, cultural explosion wrapped up in a simple but thought provoking tale, with audience participation being a highlight. The children in the auditorium are spellbound from the beginning and quickly become engrossed in the colourful costumes, set and story, with many shouting out to help the Starbird and “oohing” as she flutters around the set, awakening the stars.

By involving the kids they are quick to realise it’s their show too, with opportunitites to get up alongside the actors and puppets which brings beaming smiles and lovely moments, and allows the younger audience to take ownership of the tale and embrace it’s message, which highlights that everyone understands an injustice regardless of age.

The simple story that emanates from this lovingly crafted production is one you and your little ones will carry away with you and remember. I guarantee you’ll leave humming the Starbirds song and wanting your very own Starchick.

Runs until 26 Aug (not 14, 19), 11am

N.B. Lindsay Corr is Marketing and Communications Manager at the Scottish Storytelling Centre