Reviews Exeter Published 17 December 2014

Edgar and the Land of Lost

Bike Shed Theatre ⋄ 16th December 2014 – 10th January 2015

Reasons to be hopeful.

Belinda Dillon

It’s Christmas in Winton, but there’s little festive spirit in evidence at widower Edgar’s house, whose life revolves around a strict routine of cricket highlights on telly, beans on toast, and a weekly visit to the village to buy supplies (more beans). The arrival of his whirlwind of a niece, PeeWee – who’s been left to her own devices yet again by her globe-trotting parents – is disruptive enough, but when she loses a bracelet belonging to his late wife Lily, the pair must venture to the mysterious Land of Lost to retrieve it. And with the rest of Winton’s residents similarly affected by missing items vital to their livelihoods, it soon becomes apparent that PeeWee and Edgar’s adventure is about much more than just finding a bit of lost jewellery – the future of the village itself might be a stake.
The Wardrobe Ensemble’s fun family show is an inventively staged quest for friendship, love and acceptance that delivers the laughs while tugging at the heartstrings. Packed with sophisticated storytelling, live music and top-notch performances, it doesn’t shy away from the darkness inherent in fear, loss and loneliness, but does so with subtlety, wit and a big festive portion of hope. There’s peril and adventure, betrayal and courage, redemption and transformation – everything you’d want from a Christmas show. Plus, there’s scene-stealing turn from a cat called Claude. 
As Uncle Edgar, lost in grief, Charlie Coldfield is the solemn counterpoint to Emily Greenslade’s delightfully rambunctious PeeWee, whose upbeat demeanour hides the pain of being serially abandoned by her self-oriented parents. Hanora Kamen gives us a suitably bonkers villain in Perdita, the head of the sinister Lost Property Department, who’s nurturing a lifetime of resentment and happy to pay it forward to unfortunate henchmen Chris (Tom Brennan) and Davina (Roisin Kelly). As well as providing the musical accompaniment and leading on songs, Kamen, Brennan and Kelly also populate Winton with the baker who’s lost her cat Claude (Brennan, with a masterly bit of anthropomorphic puppetry), the butcher who’s missing his cleaver and some chops, and the postmistress with no door numbers to deliver by. 
The show starts slowly, reflecting Edgar’s loss-induced stasis, but once Edgar and PeeWee enter the Land of Lost (via a ‘broken’ lift in Lost Property – a simple yet splendidly effective device for making the imaginative leap between worlds, and played for maximum laughs, including an idiotic automated response system that mangles the characters names) the action ramps up several gears as our heroes must overcome challenges and pass tests to continue their quest. At times it’s in danger of feeling a bit kitchen-sinky, and a little more space around the encounters with opponents would allow us the time to appreciate how they enhance our understanding of the characters and their situation IRL (which they do). Nevertheless, all the set pieces are ingeniously devised and skilfully performed – there’s some seriously impressive timing on display, with the physical comedy fitting neatly into the narrative and characterisations.
Created especially for the Bike Shed Theatre, Edgar and the Land of Lost showcases The Wardrobe Ensemble’s inventiveness and originality perfectly, and manages to combine tenderness and slapstick comedy with real skill. Put a ticket at the top of your Christmas list for guaranteed festive fun.


Belinda Dillon

Originally from London, Belinda is an editor and writer now living in Exeter. She goes to as much theatre as the day job will allow. When not sitting in the dark, or writing about sitting in the dark, she likes to drink wine, read 19th-century novels and practice taxidermy. Your cat is very beautiful. Is it old?

Edgar and the Land of Lost Show Info

Produced by Wardrobe Ensemble & Bike Shed Theatre

Directed by Jesse Jones & Helena Middleton

Cast includes Tom Brennan, Charlie Coldfield, Emily Greenslade, Hanora Kamen, Roisin Kelly




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