In 2011 Tucked In, ‘an award winning theatre company who create epic stories for tiny giants,' performed Tim and Light, and so enthralled my daughter that she voted it the best of the 20-or-so shows she saw at last year’s Fringe. It therefore seemed only right that we took a look at this year’s offering, The Golden Cowpat, aimed at a younger audience of 3+.
The story told of how Hector the farmer, while routinely shovelling up the cowpats into his cart, one day saw a golden cowpat gleaming in the sunlight. He determined which cow had performed this miracle through carefully meting out different numbers of carrots to the different cows, and creating a carrot-to-poo ratio graph that would tell him the size of cowpat each cow would produce.
Once Betty had been identified as the cow responsible, he loaded up the golden cowpats and took Betty and his cart to the town to seek their fortune. When the golden cowpats were sold at auction, an astronomical price was offered if the deal also included Betty. Greed overcame farmer Hector, quickly turning to regret when he discovered the bag of money he received contained nothing but scraps of paper and a business card of the notorious con artist, Mackie McGhee.
Betty, meanwhile, was being filled with promises of fame of fortune as she and Mackie made their way to the big city. When Hector and the townsfolk catch them up, Betty has to make a choice between the temptations offered by Mackie, or returning to the farm with Hector.
Betty makes the right decision and Hector uses her golden cowpats to feed his withered crops, that now grow strong once more and they all live happily ever after.
This cautionary tale of the temptations of greed was energetically told by storyteller Robin Hemmings, with music and some truly beautiful singing from Anna Wheatley. There were opportunities to join in with some of the songs and actions and the children in the audience participated most enthusiastically with the auction – offering zillions and squillions in a bid to outdo each other.
There is just one small gripe, which also applies to other children’s shows at this year’s Fringe, relating to interaction with the younger audience. While performers are comfortable with the children’s heckling during the arranged periods of participation, many performers are far less at ease when interjections occur at unplanned moments. The response is generally to ignore it and push through with the script regardless, which makes for uneasy viewing and confidence is lost in the performance.
Unfortunately, it is this skill in particular that often separates the great from the good. It is not easy to plan for, but there are some masters that could be learned from (Andy Cannon from Wee Stories, for instance, springs to mind). With some more thought in this direction, this company could raise themselves to even greater heights.
Show times: Aug 20th – 23rd, 27th: 10.45am and 11.50am. Aug 24th – 26th: 10.45am
Ticket Prices: 20th – 23rd, 27th: £7.00 (£6.00). 24th – 26th: £8.00 (£7.00)