Cartoonist Charles Shulz created an icon that lasted over 50 years, when he first drew the irrepressible Snoopy for United Feature Syndicate in 1950. The 'Peanuts' cartoon strip (Shulz never liked the name) spawned a musical romp as early as 1983, and now on the Edinburgh Fringe.
You may search for a plot, but you won't find one. This show takes its cues from Schulz himself and presents the familiar situations you'll remember from the Peanuts comic strip. Linus in the pumpkin patch; Snoopy's obsession with becoming a writer and Lucy's makeshift doctor's surgery, they're all here, but now sprinkled with a - sometimes brilliant - score from Larry Grossman and Hal Hackady.
The players breathe life into the characters with gusto - each with their own twist. Stephen Mullan as Charlie Brown shows vulnerability and tenderness; Saira Belle as Sally Brown is full of youthful enthusiasm; Anna Westford as Lucy is just the right side of bitch to still be a cute kid; Alice Chilver as Woodstock plays a convincing exaggerated mime and Abbey Addams plays Snoopy with a sassy pop that you'd expect from a Beagle that could beat you at chess. But the real stand out performances come from Haley Otway as Peppermint Patty - who commands the stage - and Fabian Hartwell as Linus. Hartwell has a truly astounding voice that would not be out of place in London, and a comic timing that absolutely understands the wit in the writing. Together the cast deliver a wall of glorious sound with numbers such as 'Edgar Alan Poe' and 'Don't Be Anything Less Than Everything You Can Be'. The style harks back to the pre-Rent, pre-Edgy days when musicals where meant to be escapist frolics with no political undercurrent.
Director Damian Sandys makes good use of the space and minimal set. Whilst Fringe goers are used to the fare of black-box-plus-blocks, it doesn't detract in this performance. The show is well rehearsed, and even though I saw this show on opening night; it's a polished presentation.
At the beginning of the show I found myself wondering who is the audience? A 7.25pm kick off seems a little late for the kiddies, and teenagers would be muttering 'Snoopy Who?' But then I realised, *I* was the audience - a thirties-something-plus who grew with the innocent and non-violent Charlie Brown. This show serves up buckets of nostalgia with a huge smile on its face. Go see it.