The Giant Jam Sandwich – Edinburgh Fringe Review

The Giant Jam Sandwich

Pleasance Courtyard

22/08/17

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Based on the classic children’s book of the same name, written by Janet Burroway and illustrated by John Vernon Lord, The Giant Jam Sandwich is the hilarious and madcap story of the town of Itching Down and how its residents tackle an invasion by four million bees.  Written and directed by Jack McNamara, with music by James Atherton, this production is a high quality, entertaining piece of musical theatre for young audiences.

Appealing to an age group of 3-7 year olds, the production takes many opportunities to educate as well as entertain, involving the audience in a song about how bread is made, talking about pollination, and delivering lessons about teamwork. However, there is never the sense that the production is playing down to its audience, or sacrificing any technical or artistic quality in favour of dispensing information. From the opening scenes, in which the narrator lays out the setting in storybook style as the characters mime, The Giant Jam Sandwich establishes itself as a well-crafted, sharp production that proves entertaining and delightful for children and adults alike.

The three performers, Sarah Ratheram, Christopher Finn and Paul Critoph, all deliver strong performances, with no qualms about playing directly to, and engaging with their young audience. Finn is a particularly versatile performer, and switches between numerous entertaining characters with ease and spot-on comic timing.  Between the performers’ abilities and the clever direction, which maintained the storytelling style of the picture book while still allowing the piece to blossom into a musical, this is a strong and engaging piece of family theatre. With a direct approach that ensures the children in the audience are on a level with the performers, and a well rounded balance of classic comedy, contemporary references, music, and storytelling, The Giant Jam Sandwich is a perfect introduction to theatre for young audiences.

The Giant Jam Sandwich runs at the Pleasance Courtyard until 28th August as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

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