Children’s shows review: The Man Who Knows Everything

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What’s the fastest bird in the world? How do rhinos decide when to go on dates? How much do you fart in a day?

Star rating: ***

Venue: Sweet Grassmarket (Venue 18)

The Man Who Knows Everything knows all this and more. Played by Jack Stark (who also performs mime as Kiki Lovechild), he’s the title figure of this good-natured knockabout kids’ show. Just as crucial is Anna Larkin as Ophelia, a girl on a mission who encounters the Man while seeking help with a problem at home. Together they set out to reach her goal with the help of fables, riddles, buckets, sock-puppets, audience assistance and a dash of magic.

Stark cuts a wild-eyed yet lovable figure, a little like a character from Roald Dahl, and Larkin is no less animated in the supposed straight-man role. They cram plenty of colourful invention into a very small venue, with daft props and nonsense talk for youngsters and irreverent, knowing asides for the grown-ups. There are so many standalone stories and other digressions, though, that Ophelia’s own narrative gets lost in the mix, to the detriment of the show’s momentum. But with engaging performers, a humane message and a lovely sign-off, there’s still plenty to recommend.

Until 28 August. Today 11:30am.

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