Theatre review: Hare & Tortoise - Edinburgh

THE hare is speedy, the tortoise is slow, the audience is divided into two camps, and the race begins.

Joyce McMillan. Picture: Greg Macvean
Joyce McMillan. Picture: Greg Macvean
Joyce McMillan. Picture: Greg Macvean

Hare & Tortoise

North Edinburgh Arts Centre


Licketyspit’s show Hare And Tortoise, now rewritten for Christmas and playing until today at North Edinburgh Arts, has one of the best opening sequences of any children’s show around, not least because of its gorgeous Licketyspit introductory explanation that theatre is just a form of storytelling where you get to see the story in action, and that there’s about to be some action worth watching.

As a piece of theatre, Hare and Tortoise still sports many of the same assets and flaws it had on its first outing, five years ago.

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The central story and the tension between the two characters remains strong, the design still fails to show the route of the race in a way that would make it easy to follow the course of the action, and to enjoy the script’s many interruptions, and the show is still perhaps five minutes too long, with some pretty dire comedy interludes involving old ladies.

The joy of Licketyspit, though, lies not only in the shows themselves, but in the tremendous work they do around their performances, vividly illustrated at North Edinburgh Arts in a terrific exhibition of responses to the story by children from three Edinburgh primary schools.

The Hare And The Tortoise is one of the oldest stories known to humankind; yet as the children’s artwork shows, once we begin to tease out what it has to say about human character and achievement, there’s no end to its fascination, or to the vivid images it suggests to our minds.

Seen on 15.12.14

• Run ends today