The Hunting of the Snark

Wed 5th – Mon 31st August 2015

reviews

Ben Driscoll

at 14:59 on 17th Aug 2015

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Performed in a small inflated dome that looks like the Michelin Man’s igloo on the fake grass of the Pleasance Courtyard’s Green, The Hunting of the Snark has the perfectly bizarre location for its loopy and lively voyage of absurdity that children of all ages will lap up.

Taking Lewis Carroll’s nonsense poem of the same name, director Gemma Colclough and writer Annabel Wigoder have updated it into a musical comedy adventure with a patchwork of bonkers characters, infectious songs and, naturally, a great big beaver puppet who knits.

“A shark?!”, “No, a snark!” The Hunting of The Snark is the story of a quest to find the eponymous creature as the country is hit by Snark-fever after a spotting of one. A young boy (Jordan Lee-Harris), desperate for attention from his too-rich-to-care father (Simon Turner) sneaks along on his expedition to find and capture this Snark for profit. They are joined on their expedition by The Baker (Will Bryant), Mr Bellman (Stephen Myott-Meadows), explorer and world-class expert on the Snark, and his beaver, a silent but helpful companion. The problem is none of them know what a Snark looks like; no one does. Well, it looks exactly like a Boojum. But that’s still not helpful.

Shipwrecked on Snark Island - “Twinned with Leith” - the expedition team come across a diverse variety of characters that help or hinder them on their way to the Snark. There is the hungry Butcher (Polly Smith), the brilliant, fashionable Jub Jub and the unforgettable Bandersnatch, who steals absolutely anything he wants with ease. Each situation comes with a song, and every one of them are impressively written, with great current cultural references for adults and snappy dance moves. Sat right at the front, children are included, and the actors have great responses to some of their interjections. With just five actors for a multitude of characters, the show is a ludicrous fast paced game of quick-change.

With such originality and ingenuity, it’s a surprise that this production is in such an intimate venue, and not a bigger one. Take advantage of this great opportunity of a smaller audience and have your children shouting, laughing and singing along, enveloped in the tremendous fun as the cast involve them and sing to them. During the performance I saw, their attention unwavering for the full 50 minutes; the Bandersnatch had clearly stolen the children’s hearts and minds. For a kid’s show for the family, it ticks all the boxes. The Hunting of the Snark is an unforgettable delight that deserves more attention.

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Stephanie Young

at 15:07 on 17th Aug 2015

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Alice House Theatre and RG Media’s The Hunting of the Snark is utterly delightful. Adapted from the Lewis Carroll poem, The Hunting of the Snark is a musical comedy adventure for the whole family. Through humorous storytelling, music, and puppetry, the cast of five, with musician Steve, address some major issues of our time; namely the world’s obsession with wealth and how to tell the difference between a good Snark and a Boojum.

The quaint set is like a child’s playroom, with actors picking up their props and costumes from secret places around the stage and in the audience, giving the play a magical quality.

Each performer is hugely expressive and engaging. Crisp delivery of lines and eloquent physicality make for clear storytelling and the total captivation of their young audience. The high level of energy and enthusiasm is pitched perfectly; this company strike the delicate balance between spontaneity and sticking to the script. They are always in control.

The upbeat acoustic music (Gareth Cooper) is performed live by the talented cast and guitarist Steve Dunne. The Jub Jub Bird’s (Stephen Myott-Meadows) musical tribute to Annie Lennox’s ‘No More I Love You’s’ is a bizarre and hilarious addition. The company even sing their social media pitch to a tune so catchy you won’t be able to forget it.

As the band of eccentric characters journey on to Snark Island (apparently twinned with Leith), things get a bit metatheatrical as they consciously joke about performing a show at the Fringe, catering to the humour of the adults in the audience. What will also appeal to adults is the wry comment on the financial crisis – “trust me, I’m a banker” - and the popular culture references, such as the confusion over the Bandersnatch and Benedict Cumberbatch.

The renowned Bandersnatch (Will Bryant) is a real highlight, but it is not just the human performers who are loved by the audience. Beaver, with his tiny knitting, is just as much of a star.

The Hunting of the Snark is an enchanting, triumphant piece of children’s theatre. It reminds us all that we ought to have a little nonsense in our lives. So put your shoes on your hands and start walking like a chicken in preparation for one of the best adventures at the Fringe.

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