Child's Play

This year's Fringe is stuffed with interactive theatre and comedy for kids. Jane Howard explores the options for children who just love to get involved

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Published 04 Aug 2015

One of the joys of taking children to the theatre is, of course, their commitment to the illusion. When the work is good, children buy fully into the magic on stage and the adults get the pleasure of both watching the performance itself, and watching the delight the children take in watching.

This all gets taken up a notch when children are asked to participate in the work. For children with good attention spans, interactive work gives them an even stronger channel for their commitment; for those who can’t seem to sit still, interactive work can be the perfect anecdote.

Stand-up comedy isn’t something we typically think of as being for children, but Abigoliah Schamaun wants to prove us wrong. She’s done lots of comedy for kids before, but this time in Abigoliah’s GoPro Comedy Talk Show (6+) she’s filming the whole thing – from a camera mounted on her head. A talk show where the audience becomes the guests, with perhaps a few other surprises besides.

For parents that are willing to get in on the action, The Piper from My Darling Patricia draws its cast largely from children and their guardians. A retelling of the Pied Piper of Hamlin, in each performance a group of children (5+) and their guardians are given headphones and put on stage with actors and puppets from the company. Through the headphones, this new cast are fed instructions on what to do so the rest of the audience can watch the show come to life.

Is there anything as enduringly exciting for children as bubbles? The Nutty Professor and his Amazing Magic Bubble Show will take the humble bubble and turn it into something spectacular, promising square-bubbles, people inside bubbles, and fog-filled bubbles. There will hopefully be plenty of chances for children (3+) to get involved: and this is a show whose magic can be carried on later at home, even if the bubbles there are a tad smaller and less dramatic.

Disco is something you want to start your children with young, and Baby Loves Disco (0-5 years) is for those really little ones, less a show than just good old-fashioned DJs filling the dance floor. The organisers promise both juice with sandwiches for the children and a licensed bar for the adults – the perfect daytime distraction. 

For those children who are old enough to be budding artists in their own right, Release Your Inner Cartoonist (8+) promises to transfer skills from the experts to the kids. Harry Venning will talk about what it takes to make a good cartoon, before handing the reins – and pencils and paper – over to the audience. Like all good workshops, this should have children drawing long after the festival is over.