Theatre review: The Selfish Giant, Edinburgh

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Pantomimes and shows for younger children have one key ingredient in common – audience interaction.

Edinburgh Festival Theatre Studio

****

So while nobody would go along to The Selfish Giant this Christmas expecting to bellow “it’s behind you”, a desire for some degree of joining in is entirely appropriate.

Happily, Wee Stories Theatre Company has been doing this long enough to know that young bottoms are far less wriggly on theatre seats if you give the rest of the body something to do.

To that end, Oscar Wilde’s late 19th century tale has been tweaked to facilitate some gentle but fun participation. In the original story, the eponymous giant bans all children from his lovely walled garden – in this version, it’s animals. So, sitting in the auditorium (and therefore outside the castle walls) we all become said creatures – rabbits, frogs and squirrels.

There’s also an opportunity for us to help spring blossom outside the Giant’s snowy garden, with some rather nifty deeley-boppers. All of which, apart from being good fun, ensures attention stays focused.

As always, consummate storyteller Iain Johnstone delivers the tale with clarity and wit, morphing into different characters with ease. Spring, winter and autumn are played by dancers Tara Hodgson and Courtnay Collins (no need to portray the Scottish summer, it’s too short), who also help the set evolve through the seasons.

The Scottish slant (“Keep oot” and “Nae animals” signs on the castle wall) give the show a lovely sense of place.

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