An interactive, musical fable filled to the brim with silliness, ‘The Legend of Finn McCool’ tells the interesting tale of the ‘Giant’s Causeway.’ Located on the North Coast of Northern Ireland, the ‘Giants Causeway’ is a natural wonder and the result of a foolish row between two giants.
Young children’s show are remarkably difficult, audience members of the smaller variety being the toughest of critics. Before the play had even begun a parade of buggies invaded the space. A little girl curled into her father with her hands over her ears, toddlers toddled around the floor space and of course there were tears. But the performers dealt incredibly well with the interruptions and soon even the most timid of children were transfixed. By the end they were all clamouring on stage to join the giants for pictures.
Written by Dean Friedman, the story centres on the Irish, giant couple, Finn and Oona McCool. Finn the boisterous, man child (played by Sandy Jack) gets intro trouble with a fiery Scottish giant and is saved by his smart and loving wife. Jack bounds about the stage with an impressive level of enthusiasm. Some smaller audience members who were a little scared of the big snoring giant were won over by his playful grin and rag-doll movement. Jack enjoyed every moment on stage, like a rather large, clumsy Labrador, and children love Labradors.
The sweet, makeshift colourful set was an excellent choice, giving the play the look of a pop up cartoon. Subtle prop pieces such as a glowing thumb, a squirting baby bottle and signs signifying a specific reaction from the crowd were incredibly effective. Modern references such as Pokémon Go, Peppa Pig and even a Gluten Free gag are nice touches to slightly modernise the historic tale. The audience is given a run down of the chores, a cooking lesson and even asked join in when building the bridge the whole story is framed around. Jack comically allows the child to believe they are stronger than he is, by groaning and struggling with the light cardboard. A sweet addition, making the children go back time and time again to laugh at his silliness.
Michael J. Warne gave a standout performance as the Scottish ‘Angus the Red’. Draped in red tartan and a bonnet, his voice boomed around the space. Warne manages to be imposing but also approachable for the younger audience. The narrator, although friendly and clear, I felt was lack lustre in moments. As the storyteller, it is essential to enjoy the show, with big smiles and over animated choices. So I was let down by her reserved performance. The songs are playful and catchy but, at times, shied away from by certain performers.
All in all, ‘The Legend of Finn McCool’ is a success. Your children will love it and learn to see giants as friends, not foes.
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A 23 year old, working as an actor, writer and director. Born in Glasgow and moved to Edinburgh five years ago to study Acting and English at Edinburgh Napier.
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