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Reviews Edinburgh Fringe 2017 Published 28 August 2017

Edinburgh Fringe Review: Calvinball at the Royal Botanic Gardens

Until 27 August 2017

Just open your mind and say yes: Duška Radosavljević on an anarchic Calvin and Hobbes inspired performance for toddlers.

Duska Radosavljevic
Calvinball at the Royal Botanic Garden, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe 2017.

Calvinball at the Royal Botanic Garden, as part of the Edinburgh Fringe 2017.

It’s a bit of a trek to Edinburgh’s Royal Botanic Garden, but really worth the effort! By making it their base during the festival, Ipdip Theatre have over the years provided an additional lure to this space for families with babies and toddlers thus contributing greatly to the public health of both the locals and the festival-goers. The only risk of course is linked to British weather.

Last year the company played it safe and made an indoors performance capitalizing on the intimacy of the space and focusing on detail. This year they have gone in the opposite direction, proposing to the audience a game without rules, inspired by the strip cartoon Calvin and Hobbes.

If you don’t know about Calvin and Hobbes, it doesn’t matter, just open your mind and say yes to whatever happens. This happens to be a golden rule of theatrical improvisation too, and rather fittingly, the action of this piece is an extended improvised routine held together by a couple of songs (one about saying sorry when necessary, another a pretext for a chaotic dance), and a seemingly random succession of games.

The babies sitting with parents on the grass in a circle around the actors get to explore orange balls of various sizes and textures, cones and sticks, shakers and other noise-making objects. In addition to the dance, there is also a rather exciting game of hide and seek in store, so if you are a parent, don’t expect to sit still for long.

The three performers are on top form, both in terms of their alertness and energy levels in dealing with their audience, and imaginatively – in improvising new verses to Row Row Row Your Boat, for example, while taking prompts from the audience.

All in all, there is much fun to be had by all. We were blessed by sunny weather too, so built a stroll through the garden and some ice creams into our visit, but I’m sure there will be enough in the show alone to keep your kids going for the rest of the day.

Calvinball is on until 27 August 2017 at the Royal Botanic Gardens. Click here for more details. 

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Duska Radosavljevic

Duska Radosavljevic is a dramaturg, teacher and scholar. She is the author of Theatre-Making: Interplay Between Text and Performance in the 21st Century (2013) and editor of The Contemporary Ensemble: Interviews with Theatre-Makers (2013). Duska has also contributed to The Stage Newspaper since 1998 as well as a number of academic and online publications in English and in Serbian.

Edinburgh Fringe Review: Calvinball at the Royal Botanic Gardens Show Info


Produced by Janis Marshall Reilly

Cast includes Developed and performed by Emma Claire Brightlyn, Robbie Gordon and Maria Giergiel

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