City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

City Guide to Edinburgh, Scotland

The Day I Swapped My Dad for Two Goldfish, Imaginate Festival, Review

By Irene Brown - Posted on 09 May 2013

Day I swapped my Dad for 2 Goldfish
Show Details
The National Theatre of Scotland
Oliver Emanuel (writer, Lu Kemp (director) Laura Hopkins (set design), Simon Wilkinson (lighting design) Lu Kemp and Abigail Docherty (creators) , Tommy Ga-Ken Wan (photographer) , Daniel Krass (sound design), M J McCarthy (composer)
Laurie Brown (Neil), Veronica Leer,(Little Sis) Antony Strachan (Dad, Vashti, Butler) and Rosalind Sydney (Mum, Nathan, Blinky, Policeman)
Running time: 

The idea of a child wanting to swap their Dad for anything as silly as two goldfish may seem outlandish, but then again, maybe not.

There is currently a television advert for baby wipes where a small girl child states endearingly that she would like to change her cute brother [beat] “for a kitten.” Maybe there is something in the air.

This latest promenade performance from National Theatre of Scotland, based on the book by Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean, starts with a giant TV set with cardboard cut-out furniture. The scene is all ’70s browns and beiges and the old Saturday morning show Swap Shop is playing in the background.

Neil (Laurie Brown) is reading a dictionary and his toothbrush wielding, madcap Little Sis (Veronica Leer) is haring around like Biggles on speed, and couch potato Dad (Antony Strachan), invisible behind his newspaper, completes the picture.

The fourth wall of the telly screen is not just broken but smashed by Where’s Wally lookalike and Mensa wannabe Neil. Their Dad pays them no attention so Neil reckons he won’t be missed.

The deal to swap him for his two goldfish, Sawney and Beany, from his pal Nathan (Rosalind Sydney) who sees the street value of their Dad’s currency is too tempting. Neil and Little Sis’s Mum disagrees and so the adventure begins.

To retrieve the multi-swapped Dad, the young audience goes with Neil and Little Sis from pal Nathan’s teenage bedroom to Vashti’s crazy newspaper dwelling to Binkie’s bizarre galleried abode complete with its penguin shoed, ginger beer offering butler.

Through poppy fields, bungling polis and an opera singing queen, the adventure returns to a happy ending of a three dimensional comfy colour set of the original living room complete with brilliant goldfish visuals.

The custom- made newspaper headlines were a lesson in creativity as was the rest of the imaginative set design from Laura Hopkins. The cast’s adaptability to new and unusual theatre space is testament to the strong direction of Lu Kemp as well as to their own openness and flexibility.

Rosalind Sydney’s comic presence is as strong as ever as she and Antony Strachan move through a variety of roles, morphing easily from one to the next and shifting their accents as required. With their linguistic ease in mind, the suspension of disbelief is tricky when Neil and Little Sis retained their strong diverse accents that would in reality be odd from the same family.

That aside, the performances from Brown and Leer are energetically top class. This is a fantastic piece of cartoon style wackiness brought to life. An exciting and innovative piece of children’s theatre.

Scotland’s international festival of performing arts for children and young people, Imaginate, is now in its 24th year. Presenting 13 productions from Scotland, England, Europe and USA, including a programme of international dance and new commissions by Scottish choreographers, it runs from Monday 6 May to Monday 13 May 2013 at venues across Edinburgh.

Imaginate is again offering an invitation for families to join them for their third Fringe for Families on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 May 2013. Free, fun-packed and full of variety, this popular event takes place in the nooks, crannies and open spaces of the Traverse Café Bar during the Festival weekend.

Wednesday 8 May 10.30 and 13.30; Thursday 9 May 10.30 and 13.30; Friday 10 May 10.30; Saturday 11 May 11.00 and 14.00.

Tour continues Macrobert, Stirling from Wednesday 15 – Saturday 18 May; Glasgow from Wednesday 22 – Saturday 25 May 2013 Eden Court Theatre; Inverness from Wednesday 29 May – Saturday 1 June 2013