Fairly Tales
  • By Tom King
  • |
  • 21st Aug 2015
  • |
  • ★★★

This play tells the story of Benji and Alf, next-door neighbours becoming best friends, bonded by their love of the titular ‘Fairly Tales’. These feature a rambling mashup of familiar fairytale characters such as the troll from The Billy Goats Gruff or the Big Bad Wolf. As the imaginative Alf steers their journey, artistic Benji brings it to life in front of the audience’s eyes, sketching with chalk markers on the perspex panes that make up the show’s minimalist set.

This sketching mechanic is an excellent idea; flexible, fast and vivid whilst leaving room for the imagination of the audience, both big and small, to fill in the gaps.

This sketching mechanic is an excellent idea; flexible, fast and vivid whilst leaving room for the imagination of the audience, both big and small, to fill in the gaps. It’s built on further halfway through the show with the introduction of a magic lock of hair which can erase details of the scenery; a promising concept which is then disappointingly never followed up.

Just as the show’s central visual approach is slightly wasted so too is the story slightly threadbare. Once again there is a promising introduction about the power of a simple pencil to create worlds, a thought very much in line with the show’s sketch-based production but which is never really highlighted again. Instead we are left with two little boys seemingly making random decisions, disappearing off stage with no explanation purely to create drama and reappearing just as suddenly to get on with the next scene.

As Benji and Alf, Joshua Mathieson and Ray Hunwicks bring energy to the stage but an oversimplified and threadbare plot makes it easy to lose sight of the story and creates a sense that, like Alf, the actors are making it up as they go along. This may be children's theatre but even the youngest child knows how a story should flow and will lose interest quickly (or, like the little girl in front of me, simply keep asking their parents what’s going on all the way through) if they can’t understand the plot or identify with the characters.

There are a lot of good ideas waiting to be developed further in Fairly Tales and there can be no doubt of the leads’ enthusiasm. However, it lacks polish, feeling a little underprepared and underwritten. The ever-changing scenery helps to keep things fresh but, without a clear story to follow, your little ones’ attention spans may be a little tested.

Reviews by Tom King

Summerhall

A Fortunate Man

★★★
Underbelly, Cowgate

The Cat's Mother

★★★
The Stand Comedy Club 3 & 4

Phill Jupitus: Sassy Knack

★★★★
Traverse Theatre

Nigel Slater’s Toast

★★★
CanadaHub @ King's Hall in association with Summerhall

Famous Puppet Death Scenes

★★★★
Assembly George Square Gardens

Jess Robinson: No Filter

★★★★

Performances

Location

The Blurb

'AndOn Theatre welcomes you to the land of the Fairly Tale: a twist and a blend of your fairytale friends. See the most well-known and beloved stories take on new meaning as they spring from the page in this fast-paced scribble of a show. Full of fun and full of adventure, Fairly Tales shows you how illustrations tell stories, how stories come to life, and how life leads to learning through the journeys we take. One for all the family.