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A Strange Wild Song
Published on Wednesday, 22 August 2012
3

3 stars

Bedlam Theatre (venue website)
Dance and Physical Theatre
3-12, 14-19, 21-25 Aug, 9:00pm-10:00pm
Reviewed by Allison Mckeon

 Recommended for age 12+ only.
 Free and unticketed. No pre-booking required.

Physical theatre piece A Strange Wild Song tells the story of three French children photographed during World War II by an English soldier, whose camera and film are found years later by scientists and shown to his grandson. It navigates the circumstances which brought this soldier to be where he is, explores the humorous but sad dynamic of kids playing war with stick swords, and looks at the unlikely bond which forms between them.

I’m not entirely sure where the name of the show came from. I’d guessed it was from the Lewis Carroll poem of the same title, but the two didn’t really seem to have much in common. I also thought it wasn’t clear enough that the three war-playing characters were specifically children; certainly they weren’t other adult soldiers, but their antics seemed more in line with those of people who’d had some kind of mental breakdown, dazed silly by warfare or maybe grief from loss. Their costumes could be uniforms from an asylum as easily as little kids’ pajamas. Regardless, they were consistently amusing and sometimes incredibly funny: the scene in which a dresser becomes an airplane is truly excellent.

There was some creative prop work too, and the background music, which was played on various instruments by a multi-talented girl on the side of the stage, was beautiful and effective. Given that the show is primarily physical theatre with some limited dialogue, the music was quite important in setting moods of scenes and punctuating the physical comedy. The split-staging used to show simultaneously what was happening in past and present was an innovative way to portray the concept of looking at photos, accomplished seamlessly with effective lighting.

Bedlam Theatre is charming in its own right and the show itself is warm-hearted, amusing, and a little thoughtful. It’s less poignant than you would think given the subject matter, but the three little boys make up for that with the entertainment of their games: appropriate for children and adults alike, and certainly worth seeing.

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These are archived reviews of shows from Edinburgh 2012.  We keep our archives online as a courtesy to performers, and for readers who'd like to research previous years' reviews.

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