Review – Shhh…The Elves Are Very Shy

Botanic Gardens



Elves are very shy, but if you know what to do and where to look you might be able to find evidence of elves, or even a real life elf. In Shhh…The Elves Are Very Shy, Elfologist Dr. Faye Greenwood takes to the stage to teach her audience all about elves, and perhaps even introduce a few of her elvin friends. This piece of theatre for the littlest audience members and their families is a delightful multisensory experience that is accessible to all ages.

Using four facts about elves as a structure for the performance, writer and performer Charlotte Allan brings her audience on an exploration of all things elvish. We learn that elves love red things, making and dancing, and really don’t like iron. As Allan explores each of the facts with her audience, she creates an interactive multisensory space for all of her young audience members to get involved in. Whether it is making a red dotty shape, offering suggestions, enjoying the coloured scarves and other objects that are handed around, or featuring in the charming improvised song that Dr. Greenwood sings to try to persuade the elves to come out, there is a way for every audience member to get involved. Allan demonstrates a real skill for involving her audience in the story, and giving each child enough attention while still moving the narrative forward.

Though there is a text-basis for the show, language is not necessary to enjoy it as there is a strong multisensory element to the show. Allan creates signs to go along with certain key words in the show, provides pictures, plays music, hands around props, and ensures that there is no need to understand the text to understand the show. The final section of the show, the much anticipated appearance of the elves is beautifully done, with a screen in a box showing a video of the elves and giving the impression that there are actually elves in the box. Dr. Faye Greenwood drops objects into the box, and they appear in the video, perfectly in sync. This innovation and precision is an exciting and charming example of how technology can be used to create magic on stage.

In the perfect setting of the Botanic Gardens (where Dr. Greenwood has collected a number of examples of elf activity), Shhh…The Elves Are Very Shy is a beautiful piece of interactive theatre that will delight young audiences.

Shhh…The Elves Are Very Shy runs at the Botanic Gardens, Edinburgh, until August 26th as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.

Calvinball – Edinburgh Fringe Review

Royal Botanic Gardens

Ipdip Theatre



Have you ever played a game of Calvinball?

If not, then you should.

In a charming adventure for young children (0-5 year olds), Ipdip theatre create an energetic and enthusiastic game of Calvinball. With a missing set of rules, the performers and audience all become “playmakers” as the game develops.

The performers, Christie Russell-Brown, Robbie Gordon and Camille Marmie, play to their audience with enthusiasm and skill; they read their audience, engaging each child differently and allowing them to participate at their own pace. Composed of elements of many recognisable drama and improvisation games, the show is an open experience for each child to learn and play, with the performers engaging on a one-to-one level with the children at different points, and encouraging group play at others.

While sometimes the language used by the performers evidently goes above the heads of some of the children in the audience, the combination of language and physicality caters to both the younger and slightly older children, giving each the chance to understand it in their own way.  Where a slightly older child may understand and learn from “The Sorry Song” or the song teaching an adapted version of the Gay Gordons, for example, the young babies in the audience can enjoy the sensory experience of hearing the music, being danced with and having free access to the various props.

Calvinball is a delightful production for young audiences which encourages imagination and play in a theatrical experience that is made open and accessible to every child (and grown-up) in the audience.

Calvinball  runs at the Royal Botanic Gardens until August 27th as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe.