'Woof woof here we go, it's the Hairy Maclary show!' This was the enthusiastic and warm musical welcome I received as I stumbled into the theatre faced by the sight of the entire toddler population of Edinburgh.
Packed to the rafters with children and parents alike demanding their favourite character and his friends expectations seemed high. Soon the theatre was alive with shouts of 'Hairy Maclary!' and 'Schnitzel von Krum' as the lively presenters introduced each comical and individual character by turn. Warm, engaging and interactive this approach was a huge hit with the children who welcomed each expertly costumed dog to the stage with a roar of approval.
In each instance Miss Plum, our helpful and cheerful narrator, highlighted a signature movement of each dog and asked the audience to copy it to music, delighting the children and beginning a high level of interaction which pervades throughout. From searching for the lost pictures of Hairy and his friends -cleverly hidden amongst the set and requiring pantomime style shouting from the children to be found- to the making of fire engine noises to scare away the terrible tom-cat Scarface Claw, the show involves and engages all audience members down to the tiniest toddler.
The songs are incredibly, almost irritatingly, catchy -I find myself humming along even as I write this- and were delivered brilliantly. However at times the actors struggled to make themselves heard, even with microphones, over the pre-school uproar and some moments were lost.
Shifting seamlessly from story to story the show was swift and energetically performed amongst the versatile set, making it impossible for boredom and fidgeting to set in. A concern must always be, for those not familiar with famous books that shows based around them may not be appropriate however this did not appear to be the case. Providing enough explanation for new friends of Hairy whilst allowing old hands the chance to join in, 'Hairy Maclary and Friends' proved to be an engaging experience for all.