Mary Poppins

This production of Mary Poppins draws heavily from Disney’s 1964 film, but fails to conjure the same magic.

The lines of dialogue, also probably lifted from the Disney movie, are either inaudible or sound like they’re not being completely understood

It’s worth noting that this production comes from local youth group Tribe Porty Youth Theatre, with a cast ranging in age from 5-18 years old. It would therefore obviously be unfair to hold them to the same standards as professional actors. But even with this in mind, I cannot in good conscience recommend this as a show that parents with limited time and limited financial resources should spend effort and money to see.

There are some positives that the cast should take away. The boy playing Mr Banks gives a very good account of himself, whilst the girl playing Bert is the best of the main cast and looks like she was very comfortable on the stage. The dancers also put in a couple of well-choreographed dance numbers with a smile.

But there are problems. Songs are lifted straight from the Disney movie (I won’t tell the copyright lawyers if you don’t?) but nobody can sing them besides Bert. Both out of time and out of tune, it makes me wonder why exactly the musical element was even kept in when this was clearly the case to anyone with a pair of ears. The lines of dialogue, also probably lifted from the Disney movie, are either inaudible or sound like they’re not being completely understood. The scene changes are awkward and clunky and the whole thing feels far too long even though it only lasts 50 minutes.

Nowhere was this more evident than in the reaction of the children having to watch the show. They were restless, fidgety and only occasionally engaged, mainly by the sounds of Disney. There was no sense that the children were ever meant to be engaged by the show. It felt like a show being put on for the parents of the children involved in the production.

Indeed, if it was just a school show at the end of term-time, it might have been forgivable. But as a show positioning itself alongside other shows for children as part of the world’s largest arts festival, it just doesn’t hold up. In many ways, it feels unfair of the company to have put these children in this position in the first place. Perhaps it was a good opportunity to cash in on the name of the show.

If you don’t already know the cast, I can’t recommend you bring your children to this show. There are many other better shows for children out there to spend your money on. But regardless, I hope the cast do somehow find this experience educational and perhaps - for themselves - even enjoyable.

Reviews by James Beagon

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The Blurb

Mary Poppins is taking the Banks children on a magical adventure, and she's hoping you'll come along too. Even grown-ups can learn a lesson or two from the nanny who advises that ‘anything can happen if you let it.’ A great show for the whole family this Edinburgh Festival Fringe performed by one of Edinburgh's own leading youth theatre companies and complemented by the dancers from Edinburgh's esteemed Lothian Dance Academy. It's TPYT's seventh year back at the Fringe with another four-star show. Book early to avoid disappointment as families everywhere are raving that it's supercalifragilisticexpialidocious!