Once Upon A…

August 16, 2014 | By More

✭✭✭✭✩  Bursting with imagination

Edinburgh Elim (Venue 132) 1 – 16 August 2014

Immersive and interactive storytelling for the very young is taken into an altogether new realm up at Edinburgh Elim in the clever and inventive Once Upon A…

Ross McNab, Katie Milne and Kirsty Logan. Photo: Pipe Up Productions

Ross McNab, Katie Milne and Kirsty Logan. Photo: Pipe Up Productions

They say never work with children – but when you’re trying to stop a dastardly plan that would drain the seven seas, children might just be the only ones that have what it takes.

Pipe Up Productions deliver 50 minutes of imagination and adventure where the audience is just as much a part of the show as the talented cast are. Remember a world where anything was possible? Once Upon A… recreates that world among the seven seas.

This is audience participation like you’ve never seen with the interactive magic starting in the foyer of the Edinburgh Elim building, even before going in to Imagination Bay. How the story unfolds is up to the audience, and not just part of the audience, every single one.

Jerry, played by Ross McNab, is an aspiring pirate who stumbles across Captain John and Granny Pirate’s Pirate School. But what’s that? Captain Naebeard is on the loose to ruin Pirate School forever? The new recruits, along with a few mature students, must prove their mettle and work together to defeat him.

The set may be minimalist, the special effects aren’t CGI, the props are created by children, but the messages that Once Upon A… achieves in getting across cannot be faulted.

working as part of a team.

That every child is special and their imagination can take them anywhere without the need for a fancy set or special effects is something that Pipe Up Production clearly wants to nurture and encourage – while demonstrating that strength lies in working as part of a team. And a world where candy floss and rollerblades can save the day and shark attacks can be prevented by turning teeth to marshmallows is definitely the place to be.

In a pirate world traditionally dominated by men, Once Upon A… also throw two extremely capable and resourceful female lead characters into the mix. Granny Pirate and Merina, the protector of the sea, played by Katie Milne and Kirsty Logan, show that whatever a man can do, the women can do better. It’s a strong positive message for the new recruits and the actors deliver it well.

The whole cast, from John, Granny’s unreliable husband played by David Edment, to Captain Naebeard, the comedy villain played by Steven Potter, deliver wonderful performances. Experts at improvisation and working with children, they are funny, make sure everyone is included, and are willing to try any suggestion thrown at them. They also manage to deliver the odd line to keep the mature students amused too.

Once Upon A… is a wonderful piece of children’s interactive theatre, where the thing to lament is that it’s reached the end of it’s run. If you’re looking for an adventure, be sure to look out for Pipe Up Productions next year!

Running time: 50 minutes
Fri 1 – Sat 16 August 2014
Edinburgh Elim, 18 Morningside Road, EH10 4DB (Venue 132)
Full information on Pipe Up Productions: www.facebook.com/pipeupproductions

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