ShakeShakeTheatre present the tale of a man named Bumblegrum in a quirky and enjoyable puppet show for children.
The Story of Mr B will brighten up any rainy Edinburgh afternoon.
The story explores the question of just why Mr Bumblegrum is so grumpy all of the time, delving into his surprisingly tragic past and then looking at the consequences of his subsequent decision to reject all forms of friendship. Although Mr Bumblegrum prompts a lot of laughs and giggles with his grumbly mumblings and amusing squishy movement, the show does touch on darker territory from time-to-time. In many ways, the best children’s theatre often does and the show manages to prompt a few insightful conversations between parent and child about what’s just happened. The two halves of the story aren’t quite as seamless as they could be, with several aspects introduced in the first half seemingly forgotten about in the second, but it’s still good fun.
The design is gorgeous. The storybook genuinely feels magical, with wonderfully painted backdrops and a pop-up element straight out of a dream. Flowers grow from the grass lining the front of the stage before your very eyes to maintain a sense of wonder. The puppets too are lots of fun, foregoing legs in favour of squishy bottoms which make for a very amusing movement style which is portrayed with perfect puppeteering and timing.
The two performers, Pierre Filliez and Jessica Nicholls, explore different styles of storytelling, putting a bit of shadow-puppetry into the regular puppetry mix, as well as full-blown costumed acting. The costumed acting by Filliez forms the narration section of the play, which has its up and downs. Although most of the meaning is evident, some of the English is a bit jumbled or mispronounced, which could prove a problem for children not yet entirely fluent in English themselves. Yet Filliez and Nicholls are entertaining till the last; in particular, Nicholls’ wide range of amusing squeaky noises never gets old as far as the children’s giggles can attest to.
The Sun himself attests in the show that “Sun will always follow rain” and this indeed proves to be the case as The Story of Mr B will brighten up any rainy Edinburgh afternoon. Highly recommended to parents with children aged four and above.