City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Frantic Canticles of Little Brother Fish, Bedlam Theatre, Review

By Kenneth Scott - Posted on 18 August 2015

The Frantic Canticles of Little Brother Fish
Show details
Bedlam Theatre
Babolin Theatre in assocation with Worboys Productions.
Running time: 
Al Scott (director), Richard Fredman (writer), Tom Penn (composer), Sam Worboys (producer).
Flora Wilson Brown (Fish), John Chisham (Goat), Sam Penn (Piano Monk), Steph Wilson (Klunk), Harry Pearce (Abbot), Bethan Lahive (Pastuk), Becca King (Vulgar Boatman), Charlotte Doswell (Lady of the Lake), Hannah Rice and Val Smith.

Welcome to darkest Depravia, a poor, war-torn, mountainous land in Central Europe, too small to be shown on any map where the Dark Ages still hang heavy.

In the gloom of the church a group in cardinal red hooded-vestments sing melodic plain chant under the glowering eye of the hunch-backed choirmaster. As the singing dies away he picks out the brooding notes of the Song of The Volga Boatmen on a battered piano.

And here is the moustachioed ferryman, though his mashed accent has transmuted him to the vulgar boatman, with description of his almost indecent love for the lake as a cruel but beautiful mistress to rival The Fast Show’s Swiss Tony.

His tale is about a very special boy and his close connection to a truly magnificent goat. The boy, named Fish, grows up with an irrational fear of water and no knowledge that may be intended for great things.

“Successful Prologue” one of the monks gleefully announces.

Chapter Ones sees chest-slapping monk, Klunk, for the Monastery of Unk in search of a suitable novice. While Fish is enthusiastic to join the brotherhood, he doesn’t take to monastic life like a fish to water.

When mighty omens presage a plague on the village, the scriptorium parchments are consulted revealing Nostradamus type warnings and wisdom. There appears that there can be a saviour, the only problem being that it will take a person of true belief and that it looks like a suicide mission.

Who will live, who will die and why is Fish afraid of water? And with that cliffhanger it’s time for the Song of the Goat, a number worthy of the Eurovision Song Contest. Only a quest with the depraved boatman, goat and a magic clam shell will provide answers.

This liturgical lunacy is true to Babolin Theatre’s style - full of movement as groups rush in to form scenery and the ever present choir. There are wonderfully sung canticles, sometimes with ridiculous contrived lyrics. The earnest deadpan delivery of tortured vowels in a cod Slavic accent never fails to amuse as squeaky voiced, endearingly innocent Fish gambols throughout. Trademark large moustaches and cries of “Huzzah” add to the near Pythonesque moments.

Babolin have been one of the most consistent companies of the Fringe and this is another triumph.

Show Times: 17 to 22 August 2015 at 1.30 pm.

Ticket Prices: £10 (£8)

Suitability: PG.