On a stage strewn with autumnal-coloured leaves, two singers give each other a hug and a wave.
Fox-tot!, Edinburgh Academy, Edinburgh * * * *
It’s a warm opening, and a clear indicator to the wide eyes watching that all is safe and well.
Scottish Opera’s second venture into work for the very young, Fox-tot! creates a world filled with vibrancy and sound. A follow-up to the company’s hugely successful BambinO, which was aimed at very small babies, this show targets a slightly more knowing audience of 1–2-year olds.
But with that extra knowledge comes an increased fear of the world – which is why almost all children start the show clinging fast to their grown-ups. By the end, some are strolling onto the stage, picking up leaves and staring up intently at the big person with the big voice.
Scottish Opera actively encourages such a spirit of exploration, and for this they are to be applauded. The stage may belong to two singers, a cellist and a percussionist, but right from the start, children (or rather the adults sitting next to them) are told it’s perfectly OK for them to wander out. A breath of fresh air for parents used to constantly dragging curious charges back to their seats.
The show itself is simple yet fun. The beautiful voices of mezzo-soprano Katie Grosset and counter-tenor Daniel Keating-Roberts deliver composer Lliam Paterson’s basic lines (“Blue sky”, “Little leaves”, “plip, plop, rain won’t stop”) as an inquisitive fox puppet sets out to discover what it feels like to be another animal: a cat, a frog, a butterfly.
Each new character comes as a surprise, re-engaging the young audience’s interest. Meanwhile, designers Giuseppe Belli and Emma Belli have gifted the toddlers a bright, tactile set, with huge fluffy balls representing the sun and moon rolled out, just ripe for the touching.
Until 16 August