Review: Dr Stirlingshire’s Discovery

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Morna Pearson’s delightful promenade family show, a co-production between Lung Ha, Grid Iron, The Royal Lyceum and Edinburgh Zoo, is a unique wee gem. Fusing zoology, magical elements for the wee ones and some Surrealist humour for the adults, it works on many levels.

Dr Vivien Stirlingshire (a fine, imperious Nicola Tuxworth) a cryptozoologist no less, is on a mission- to educate the audience all about her latest discovery, an enigmatic purple fluffy hybrid mammal, dubbed ‘The Something or Other’, who is leaving a trail of purple poo wherever it goes. Problem is, it’s gone missing. Can she cast aside differences with her pompous brother, zoo manager Henry (Antony Strachan on blisteringly camp form, even when scoffing packets of Monster Munch) and get the incompetent zoo staff to do some detective work- or indeed, some actual work?

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Photo: Pete Dibdin

There is beautiful music,ethereal as fairy lights, beckoning us in to the Zoo to gape at the wonders.Philip Pinsky (of indie dance pioneers Finitribe) has created a beautiful, poignant soundtrack, as integral to the production as the cast, the playful Rob Heaslip choreography and Karen Tennent’s oddball design.

The audience is split into two teams- one goes with pedantic tour guide Tom (Neil John Gibson); the other, with a more overexcited tour guide, Geena (Emma McCaffrey). And that’s where the fun begins. We see Lemur Watch, an Awkward Family Reunion, the obligatory Penguin Parade, and are offered ‘merch’: Facial Yeti Hair Extensions for the fashionistas in our lives. It’s all very bumbling, bizarre and at times utterly surreal, with cartoonish interludes.

Even if the story doesn’t quite conclude in a satisfying manner (some kids were a little puzzled by the lack of spectacle at the end, but no spoilers here) it’s a funny and touching storyline on how we should relish the time spent with our family, as much as seeking excitement elsewhere for FOMO. Can’t say fairer than that. Really lovely and life-affirming.

 

(Lorna Irvine)

Until April 9th

Get tickets here: http://www.lungha.com

and here: 0131 248 4848

(Wrap up warm and prepare for rain!)

 

 

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