Beards! Beards! Beards!
4.15 pm (run ends 28th Aug; not 15, 22)
Beatrix’s two dads are barbers, who spend their days caring for customers’ beards. Beatrix is frustrated because, as she sees things, only people with beards are successful and “no-one listens to you if you haven’t got a beard”. She asks her dads if they can give her one, but they can’t. She goes to her bedroom in disgust: there is a huge thunderstorm and she remembers that if you wish in a storm, your wish will be granted. She wishes to have a beard and, to her surprise, she is visited by Wilgafortes, a mediaeval princess who prayed for help to escape an unwanted marriage and woke the next morning with a beard: she is now the patron saint of bearded women or will be, if one more miracle occurs in her name. Wilgafortes shows Beatrix a magic mirror through which she can visit three famous bearded people from history and ask for their advice. The search is long, and doesn’t result in showing Beatrix how to grow a beard – but it does teach her a very valuable lesson and, incidentally, results in Wilgafortes’ promotion to sainthood.
Trick of the Light Theatre’s The Bookbinder was one of the highlights of last year’s Fringe [and is back again this year at Pleasance Courtyard: don’t miss it!] so I simply had to see what they were offering this year. “And now for something completely different” really fits the bill! Ralph McCubbin Howell, the bookbinder, is joined in this new show by Paul Waggot and Abby Howells, and the trio dance and sing their way through this highly entertaining and inventive show. The opening barbershop duet sets the scene and very quickly brings laughs, from the children at the physical humour, from the adults at the witty and topical lyrics: the show progresses with an insane number of quick-change characters from the boys – we meet Will Shakespeare, Archimedes, Father Christmas, Charles Darwin, Captain Blackbeard, Rasputin, Confucius, and finally Abraham Lincoln, while Wilgafortes keeps coming back to see how Beatrix is getting on. The songs are clever and catchy, the props very simple and inventive, and the whole show is a delight.
I loved so many things about the show: the fact that Beatrix having two dads was just an incidental thing, not the hinge of the plot; the clever way stereotypes were presented and then demolished [many adults could do with getting this message!]; the clever songwriting and the impressive vocal and thespian skills of the cast; and the mad humour and inventiveness of the whole show. The audience were entranced and amused from start to finish. Go see it!