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Home arrow Archive: Earlier Fringes arrow Archive: Edinburgh 2011 arrow The Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business
The Mole Who Knew it Was None of His Business
Published on Saturday, 06 August 2011

4 stars

C venues - C (venue website)
3-14, 16-29 Aug, 10:00am-11:00am
Reviewed by Craig Thomson

 Family-friendly. Suitable for all ages.

You might have fond memories of, say, The Wind in the Willows – and poor put-upon Mole, who leaves home because he's fed up with his spring cleaning before encountering Ratty and the rest.  The Mole Who Knew It Was None Of His Business is put-upon as well, but not in quite the same way.  He winds up traipsing across his big green field because some other creature has done a poo on his head.  A big difference!

The children's book of the same title, on which this fine early-morning play is based, caused a minor controversy on its release in English because of – well – just all the poo.  There's a lot of it: bird poo, horse poo, and of course the mystery poo that’s landed on poor Mole.  I'm still a bit surprised anyone really minded, and on the first Friday of the Fringe, a healthy crowd of parents and young children was clearly not put off by all the talk of number twos.

The story follows Mole's scatological investigations as he tries to figure out just who it was that dropped one on his head.  Sally Lofthouse makes an effective Mole, with just a pair of Penfold glasses (and the ever-present poo hat) for costume.  She is ably supported by Stephanie Willson and Bernie Byrnes, on narration and animal duties; standout characters for me were Willson's Cow – a West Country madwoman hurtling round the room high-fiving the kids, Marigold udders flapping wildly – and Byrnes' Pig, an operatic diva channelling a certain celebrity Muppet.

The performers mix up their approach as Mole encounters each animal in turn, going from singing to wordplay to dance to slapstick pratfalls and back again.  This helped keep the children's attention – there was seldom the opportunity to get too distracted before Mole was off to see a new animal, and a new set of activities to take part in.  These interactive elements, such as singalongs, pantomime calling and, most amusingly, describing the colour and consistency of each animal's droppings as they leave the stage, are all done in situ as a group – nobody is singled out or called onto the stage.  I think that's entirely sensible, as the children in the audience were quite young, in keeping with the target readership (or read-to-ership) of the book. 

I do have to say that I felt that some of the animal characters were less strong than others.  Goat, in particular – played as a spaced-out hippy – was a bit impenetrable, and his rendition of The Three Little Pigs went on a touch too long for my liking.  It nonetheless provided an excuse for one of the nicest throwaway jokes for the parents (think of what else you might call a supply of sticks).

It's great to see an adaptation of The Mole Who Knew It Was None Of His Business back in Edinburgh, and I highly recommend you make it your business to see this lovely production.  (Just not that kind of business!)

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