Understanding the concept of time is one of the biggest challenges of childhood. Not just learning to read the hands on a clock, but grasping why ten minutes in the classroom seems to last so much longer than ten minutes in the playground.
Wee Stories: Hickory and Dickory Dock - Art Space, Craigmillar
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Wee Stories could have had a lot of fun with this, but instead the latest work from this usually excellent theatre company feels a little safe. Set in an Alpine village long, long ago, Hickory and Dickory Dock has a folktale vibe, but little of the dramatic conflict or peril evident in most traditional stories.
When his eyesight starts to fail, an elderly clock maker finds his livelihood at risk as the village is thrown into chaos owing to poor-quality timepieces. A magical solution is found, but its execution doesn’t feel very, well, magical.
But there are some nice touches here, so all is not lost. Iain Johnstone never fails to turn in a good performance, whether he’s narrating, playing a Germanic clock maker, high-pitched baker’s wife or picking up his squeezebox for a song. The educational aspects will please primary teachers, with innovative props used to clearly illustrate how time is linked to the earth’s rotation. The set, too, transforms into cuteness itself during the closing moments.
Folktales are timeless, because they speak to us as humans, not just products of our particular era – but without the usual Wee Stories wit and vigour, this one speaks with a whisper not a shout.