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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2011 arrow Mable Mackintosh and Her Enormous Pants!
Mable Mackintosh and Her Enormous Pants!
Published on Sunday, 14 August 2011

2 stars

The Bongo Club (venue website)
8-21 Aug, 11:30am-12:20pm
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.

There's not much more to Mable Mackintosh and Her Enormous Pants, a new play for children from Random Acts Theatre Company, than is suggested by the title.  If your children are amused by the thought of big knickers (really MC Hammer-style pantaloons), then this might work for you: there were plenty of children present laughing and singing along very happily.  But it didn't really work for me.

There is a loose plot at play.  Mable likes big pants.  A creepy clown makes pants for Mable, but is going out of business because nobody else likes big pants.  Mable wears her pants in school but gets bullied because the other children don't like big pants.  Mable is somehow able to convince everyone to like big pants.  Everyone is happy and does a dance wearing their big pants.

The cast are very comfortable engaging with children in the audience, and some of the nicest moments are when reacting to the youngsters outbursts (such as an impromptu stage invasion to hug a bear costume).  There is a worthy subplot about bullying and standing up for yourself and others, but the nuances seemed lost on the young audience; I'm not sure if some of the issues were yet pertinent to a group of five to nine year-olds.

Although the group attempted to make good use of the Bongo Club space, with performers exiting left, right and centre, I felt the venue worked against them.  The cavernous night club was both visually distracting and audibly flat.  The clique of bully characters, 'the three Vs', were too loud and overbearing, but the teacher was too quiet, almost inaudible.  In true Three-Bears fashion, lead characters Mable and Billy were just right though, and acquitted themselves well.

The finale, where everyone is invited to join in Mable's pants dance, was a fun and inventive interactive element which cheered the mood at the close.  Overall, though, the story was slight, and the deus ex machina story resolution was practically incomprehensible.  I want to stress that many of the kids there seemed to love it, bouncing and jiving along in their handed-out colourful knickers.  But at a time when there are plenty of kids' shows in town which both amuse and gently inform, your reaction might be that this one is just all a bit pants.

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