Theatre review: The Sun, The Moon and a Boy Called River


WHEN IT COMES to children's theatre made in Scotland, Andy Cannon and Iain Johnstone, aka Wee Stories, are just about the best there is.

In this new show – at the Traverse this weekend, then on tour – Cannon and Johnstone put themselves under very little pressure; the methods are tried and tested, the story a simple one of snobbery confounded, and a boy's quest fulfilled.

Yet over a short hour in the Traverse studio, Wee Stories generate an atmosphere of pure, light-touch fairytale magic, as two babies are born on a single night – the baby girl to an arrogant king, the baby boy to a poor woodcutter – and an old lady predicts in a dream that they will one day marry. The king rages, and sends a servant to drown the woodcutter's baby son. But in best mythical style, the servant leaves the baby floating in the river; and 20 years on – well, you can guess at least some of the rest.

The show features a lovely transverse set by Claire Halleran, with the red plush curtains of the court at one end, and the wide world at the other, presided over by a silvery moon and a great golden sun; Johnstone's harp music – beautifully played by Jennifer Port – is woven exquisitely through the action. But in the end, as ever, it's Cannon's generous, humorous storytelling performance that lies at the heart of the show, alternating effortlessly between the roles of Prince Charming, Buttons, and Dame-like queen, in a show that isn't a pantomime, but has all the qualities of a great panto story.

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