This performance is placed in a sideshow carnival circus world, and is presented by Fittings Multimedia Arts, a Liverpool based disability led arts organisation – most of the spoken word is also signed by Kinny Gardner and Caroline Parker, Sally Clay playing the bearded lady on the keyboards is sight impaired and Garry Robson plays The Boss ringmaster character from his wheelchair.
The performance begins with a funeral – Edmund’s life has ended and the story of his life begins. The show is down on its luck – the aerialist has vertigo, the tattooed lady Missus has nothing to cook apart from Mr Mesmo’s performing doves and is considering taking up cutlery throwing. The arrival of a clever talking pig – puppeteered and voiced by Anthony Cairns – means a potential lucrative new act. Edmund is on a mission, however, given to him by his mum: find out where all his older brothers and sisters have gone.
Full of entertaining turns, songs, acts and mysteries to solve, this show packs a lot into a relatively short time. The centre of the show is Edmund, who moves from humble ingenue to big-headed star, innocent creature to aficionado of George Orwell’s Animal Farm. A series of placards regularly changed at the side of the stage provides the story chapters – and if there isn’t an illustrated book for children to accompany this show, there should be to help the audience remember everything that has happened. There is no single stand-out performance as the cast and crew work as an ensemble to create this show, with individual turns for each of the character acts.
At one stage Edmund is blindfolded as part of his act – a bold move that doesn’t quite work as the magic of the puppet is in his eyes and as soon as they are covered the puppeteer becomes too noticeable. There are some wonderful turns and sequences. Kinny Gardner delivers some hauntingly beautiful songs in a high-pitched contralto. Annette Walker as the silent Ariella is beautifully engaging, and provides the perfect wrap up to this powerfully engaging piece of theatre for all ages and abilities.