Theatre review: The Attic, Festival Theatre Studio, Edinburgh

The Attic - Grandma (Gowan Calder), Lucy (Hazel Darwin-Clements) and David Paul Jones (Pianist) PIC: Greg Macvean
The Attic - Grandma (Gowan Calder), Lucy (Hazel Darwin-Clements) and David Paul Jones (Pianist) PIC: Greg Macvean
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THERE’S a tangled ball of wool lying near the studio door, with a fluffy red thread heading off down the corridor; and when we follow it – gently urged along by the show’s creator-performer Hazel Darwin-Clements, playing a little girl called Lucy – we enter the magic world of The Attic, the latest show from Starcatchers, Scotland’s specialists in shows for tiny tots. The wool belongs to Lucy’s grandma; and Lucy loves to potter in the attic with her, sorting through old stuff, trying on old clothes, acting out imaginary adventures and finding lost treasures.

The Attic, Festival Theatre Studio, Edinburgh ***

To say that The Attic is a show that lacks narrative is to put it kindly. As on its first outing in 2012, some of its efforts to fill out 45-minutes are so feeble that even a two-year-old might eye them with scepticism; and there’s something distinctly old-fashioned about the whole scenario, with the slightly dotty granny more like one of today’s great-grandparents than a brisk modern gran.

Yet the atmosphere created by Karen Tennant’s design, Craig Fleming’s lighting and David Paul Jones’s gorgeous and shapely piano score, which he plays live throughout, is absolutely irresistible, conjuring up that special zone of fun, play, and magic that children often enter with their grandparents.

And when, at the end, the show dissolves into a jolly participatory tea-party involving knitted cup-cakes and silly hats, the joy of the toddlers in the audience is as unconfined as their dance moves, as Gowan Calder’s affable granny invites them to join in a last celebratory tea-dance.

Further performances on 20 and 21 January