Like the Young Pleasance, Newbury Youth Theatre come to Edinburgh with a reputation as one of the very strongest youth theatres at the Fringe, sure to deliver diverse, witty and original material. The brilliantly titled The Glorious Invention of Emmanuel Stork is one of their strongest shows in years and features a breadth of talents, from extraordinarily catchy original songs to malleable ensemble-driven movement sequences.
“a tight-knit ensemble”
A storytelling masterclass, the young company create a mythical world of forgotten tribes, sea monsters and gibbering giants, amongst which Jack Coleman ventures on a quest to find his lost father. The lost tribe, who could only communicate with Jack through a number of abstract sounds, were particularly well realised, gradually moving towards him in groups, before deferring to their leader. It is very clear that this company have worked together tirelessly to become a tight-knit ensemble, and the results spoke for themselves, with personal favourite moments being group sequences such as these and the creation of physical vessels including a boat for Jack to sail in, achieved with simplicity and painting a real and vivid picture of his adventure.
However, there were also a number of standout individual performances, particularly from the actor playing Jack who showed wide-eyed abandon amidst the madness which frequently erupted around him. Another choice sequence emerged when Jack was met with the bureaucratic telephone helpline and a hilarious workplace boss placed, inexplicably and brilliantly in a dress, giving the brilliantly deranged vibe of a cross-dressing Malcolm Tucker from The Thick of It. It was refreshing in a family-friendly, fantasy-based show to see the plot shot through with everyday characters and situations which we all have to endure on a regular basis.
The show closed out with the catchiest, most memorable piece of music I’m likely to hear at this year’s Fringe, as the entire cast joined a very talented singer/guitarist in a rendition of their original piece ‘Inside a Schmoo’. Devised by the company themselves and written and directed with expertise by Tony and Amy Trigwell-Jones, it was clear that the young actors were entirely invested in their own material and this proved to be utterly infectious. A brilliant blend of fantasy and reality, this is one of the finest family show you could wish for at this year’s Fringe. They close in two days, so catch it while you can.
Quaker Meeting House, 7th – 12th August, 14:30
Image: Paul Symes