City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

Souvenirs, Zoo Pleasance (Monkey House), Review

By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 13 August 2015

Souvenirs (photo credit Peter Marsh)
Show details
The Human Animal
Running time: 
Sam Wightman (director), Peter O’Brien (assistant director), Oliver Higgins, Grace Holme, Max Kennedy, Alexandria Wallis (writers), Juliet Miriam Clark, Jamie Wright (producers), David Johnson-Morgan (set designer), Alex Webster (costume designer), Michael Chidgey (musical director).
Alex Welsh (Birdman), Ellice Stevens (Child), Oscar Owen (Grandfather), Kitty Murdoch (Mother), Tommy Loftus (Lover), Ella Tebay (One).

To the trilling of a recorder the cast emerge from cardboard boxes. They are here to unpack a story of objects and the memories that they evoke.

They fight child-like over a paper crown before it is won by the tutu wearing “Queen of Poverty Lane”, although they can’t agree whether having a four-bedroomed house (with room for an extension) qualifies. One thing they can decide on is that The Birdman is ruining the neighbourhood and are soon daring each other to steal from him; preferably some Jammy Dodgers.

The Birdman is actually very precious about his belongings. They may look like rubbish but each has sentimental value and are the source of memories of lost loved ones.

So ensues a madcap tale of unreliable news and of his Grandfather, writer Henry Sparrow, apparently being killed off in a reporting error. Then there is his mother, conjured in a transitional stage between a kind of ethereal beat poet and a beast of bottles.

The interloping child insists that bad memories can be a burden and encourages him into happier ones. He relives childhood games of dress-up with a friend who returns in later life to be a conflicted lover. The Birdman now likes things in their proper place. The question is whether he can be shown the door out of his self-made cage of memories.

This is a devised ensemble piece with each of the separate stories (cardboard, wine bottle, newspaper, fabric) choreographed and pulled together. As such, some elements work better or are clearer communicated than others.

The result is an enormously playful, strange, fantasy tale with effusive performances, expressive movement, a looping live soundtrack, men in tights - it shouldn’t work but thank the Fringe that it does. As one of the characters says “sometimes adults need make believe, just like children.”

Show Times: 7 to 27 August 2015 at 12.15pm.
Ticket Prices: £7.50 (£5.00)
Suitability: PG

Read Michelle Haynes' review of Souvenirs