Review: Fox-Tot! ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Children’s shows

Fox-Tot!

The Edinburgh Academy, v70

10.00, 11.30 (ends 16 August, not 5, 12)

⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ (5 stars)

Another mesmerising, enchanting performance from Scottish Opera! Lliam Paterson’s aurally gorgeous and highly inventive quasi-French-baroque opera for 12-24-month-olds held an audience of tinies and their parents enthralled throughout the 45-minute performance.

At first, everyone sat quietly, but as they gained in confidence, and with the encouragement of the performers and stage crew, the little ones ventured on to the stage area, attracted by the heaps of leaves everywhere. One wee girl was entranced by the cello, while others brought handfuls of leaves to their parents, or tossed them around. Many toddlers rushed to see the clouds of bubbles that rose up at one point and joined in helping to trundle round the giant furry sun and fascinatingly tactile blue moon, while the wee cello girl was also most helpful in bringing the fox cub his tail on more than one occasion…

In and around all this purposeful activity, a fox cub and his mother grappled with the conundrum ‘what to become?’ – yes, I have to GROW: but into what – a cat? A frog? A butterfly? All these creatures came alive before our eyes – I particularly enjoyed the transformation of a small backpack into a very lanky frog – and the fox cub had a wonderful time being them all. As he soared into the blue sky as a butterfly he expressed his joy in a soaring melodic line which sent shivers down my spine.

Mezzo-soprano Katie Grosset and countertenor Daniel Keating-Roberts sang superbly, signed their words, and thoroughly enjoyed themselves as they encouraged as many tinies as were willing to interact with them. Cellist Laura Sergeant also played the smallest “piano” I’ve ever seen – at some points being asked to play the two instruments simultaneously, while percussionist Michael D Clark had enormous fun with a giant marimba, a glockenspiel, a giant rattling red and black bead ball and who knows what other delights – I’d love to see the show again just to listen to the music, but kept being distracted by the children’s joy in each other’s presence and the opera going on around them.

All credit to director Roxana Haines, designers Giuseppe and Emma Belli, and puppet designer Mervyn Millar [for Significant Object – of War Horse fame] – they have produced a show which is a visual delight, was greeted with a storm of applause and was the perfect beginning to my Fringe 2019.

Fox-Tot! has all the hallmarks of a smash hit – get your tickets NOW before they sell out!

Mary Woodward