If the Edinburgh Fringe ever needed to make a case for its existence – and given troubles with issuing visas to overseas visitors this year, we may not be a million miles away from that possibility – it’s shows like this one that should be able to win the case with any authorities, hands down. Woogie Boogie is a children’s show from South Korea that I could not imagine seeing anywhere else in the UK under any other circumstances.
My four-and-a-half year old has grown up on a diet of British children’s theatre consisting mostly of adaptations of familiar storybooks. I can’t say he’s always been a great fan of those, however with the Brush Theatre’s Woogie Boogie, he was captivated and roaring with laughter within seconds of taking his seat.
Mixing the best of the analogue and digital theatre techniques, Woogie Boogie is a two-hander with a difference. The backdrop is an oversize whiteboard and these performers’ drawing skills are as well honed as their acting and clowning. Following a short introductory routine which playfully lays out the main conventions of the show – the on and off button, the marker, the sponge, the use of light and sound, the puppets and the projection – we are off on a quest for a wayward turtle, and the journey is nothing short of a dream. A black and white dream, it must be said, but nevertheless, inventive and thrilling and completely fantastical. Natural, mythical and comical creatures morph into each other with as little as a flick of a hand or a wave of a pen that might as well be a magic wand, at least in the eyes of a four year old.
The main strength of this show is that it is as awe-inspiring for the adults as it is for children. One imagines this show’s creators really relishing the very process of making, playing and discovery – and the effect is infectious. Accompanied by live music and foley effects, courtesy of smiley EunJae Sohn on the keyboard, the performers YoungKyun Yeom, SeungEun Lee charm their way into the audience’s hearts so much so it’s hard to part ways at the end of the hour.
Woogie Boogie is on at Summerhall until 26th August, as part of the 2018 Edinburgh fringe. More info here.