A charming, witty and engaging show,
The lingering beauty of Writing is in simple yet resonant images.
Performed with no traditional dialogue and with wide-eyed enthusiasm and a buoyant, playful curiosity, Clarke and Merrill imitate children themselves. In some of the gentlest and most inclusive clowning you’ll see all Fringe, they run around the space and encourage us to get involved in their antics. Their huge grins may be exaggerated but they are also infectious - you can’t help but laugh along with them as they associate sounds and letters for the first time. Handing out whiteboards and dry wipe pens, we join them in their writing lesson where they have to describe a monster.
The juxtaposition between their wild childish creativity and the lessons they have to sit through is highlighted wonderfully. For example, they are bombarded with information to help them describe the wonderful images in their heads yet they can only manage “the monster is big”. Of course, we all have to start somewhere but in seeing the extent of the primary school barrage - informed by the company members’ own backgrounds in education - you wonder if something has gone dreadfully wrong in the way that we teach children the most basic yet creative of skills.
It would have been nice, perhaps, to have had a little more insight into these political problems that underpin our education system. Although you can’t blame Clarke and Merrill for not doing so in what is a very family friendly show.
The lingering beauty of Writing is in simple yet resonant images such as their simple puppet friend - a bamboo skeleton in a red school jumper - as well as the opportunity to revisit childhood again, unhindered, pen in hand. A wonderful piece of devised simplicity with universal appeal.