St Bride’s Centre
EACH night, oh best beloved, men will lay out their two shoes and their little stone axe all in a line. A ritual preparation in order to have them handy for throwing at the cat when he scratches at the door to get out at 3am.
It’s a right passed down from father to son since before the days of Fred Flintstone and laid down in literature by Rudyard Kipling in the perennial children’s favourite Just So stories.
But The Cat That Walked By Itself is another story. Last night was devoted entirely to the journey the Elephant’s Child had to take on his path to a little more wisdom and a far greater nose.
Performed by the Forth Children’s Theatre, Just So is a two-hour musical melding of several of Kipling’s stories into one extravaganza.
Taking on the weighty mantle of director for the first time was 19-year-old Cameron Dyer who, after the FCT’s award-winning Ragtime last festival, had rather a lot to live up to.
Acquitting himself well, Dyer shows an excellent eye for putting a production together. He handles the technical very well but may want to pull away from playing too much with the set and focus on the storytelling, particularly the moments when important props need to be highlighted and the audience needs to focus on a character’s solo rather than the moving set.
The leads were well cast and wore their characters confidently. Despite wonderful diction, accents and pronunciation, though, their vocal projection often didn’t have the strength or range to carry the score.
Rebecca Gilhooley’s feisty Kolokolo Bird played an amusing and thought-provoking foil for Andrew McDivitt’s endlessly inquiring Elephant Child, while Becki Clark’s Eldest Magician had the engaging touch of a rather posh bedtime storyteller.
Esther Scott and Gus Harrower’s double act as the hermit Parsee Man and Cooking Stove spent much of the night threatening to steal the show, only to be given a good run for their money by Kangaroo (Ronan Rafferty) and Dingo Dog’s (Kirsty Shaw) cautionary tale of wishful thinking. The real highlight last night, however, was the cast and crew’s absolute professionalism in keeping the show on track through two brief power cuts.