The National Student Theatre Company (NSTC) are regular visitors to the Fringe, bringing productions that draw on talent from drama schools across the country and combining with over 25 years of experience in theatre.
And there's no doubt that they have selected well this year. This young group can sing, act and move as well as any professional group. The patchwork world of their set design is clever and effective. Michael Bruce's original score is at times brilliant. But there's a problem. The story just isnt engaging.
It's set in a nursery rhyme world where a child has started to question its validity (echoes of 'I do believe in fairies', methinks). But that part of the plot I gleaned from the press release. Most of the time, I was struggling to make any sense of how the action going on in front of me fitted together in a coherent narrative. All the characters seemed to want to escape from this imagined world of 'Diddle', and at one point the Cow even managed to do a runner. This caused a bit of an upset with those left behind, only for the Cow to return again. The Cat was making plans to kill the Fiddle, and there was a lot of crotch-grabbing, which seemed out of context with a nursery rhyme. Try as I might, I couldn't pick a story out of the bones of the action.
On the up side, the singing was great - especially some of the ensemble work. At least that took my mind off figuring out the story long enough to enjoy the polished performances.