Strange Town Young Company brings a subversive seasonal message delivered through its peripatetic hero, Anton.
Some saccharined Sinatra Xmas songs and the ambitious cinematic sounds of The Magnificent Seven opens this cheeky piece of Yuletide fun from writer Sam Siggs, who is one of the Traverse 50 playwrights.
A humble cleaner with an Eastern European accent (Euan Gilroy) is sweeping the stage and finds the panto script for Mother Goose. He persuades the Director (Zoe Hedge) to ditch the traditional panto for an ancient story from his world at the eleventh hour. The result is a series of tramping adventures by the heroic Anton and his trusty budgie, involving teacakes, Inglieston market, puppet monsters, a despotic king (Iona Soper) and some pukka land- logged pirates.
All these hamper Anton’s cheery travels back to his wife and wean along with the gift, through a big eye, of being able to foresee Death who appears on screen with a fanfare like a big fart. His saviour is a magic bum bag that obeys his command to ‘Get in the bag!’ but the balance of the world is scuppered when, trying to do good, Anton puts Death in the bum bag. The powers that be are not best pleased and the now ancient Anton is barred from heaven. Ever trustful, the brave Anton passes in the bum bag to the chosen ones and asks that they command it to get him in, thereby cheating the system.
Of course, they don’t so the unsentimental message is that goodness and selflessness are not always rewarded. The Director should have delivered the old saying to the cleaner, “You should be on the stage – scrubbin it!” and saved herself some grief. When the old cleaner reveals himself to be the very Anton, there is a sense of some smug schadenfreude from this Hong Kong Phooey type.
On a bare stage two hanging racks draped with props are used Brechtian style by the ten strong cast of young actors (oh, and Colin the Budgie!) to perform this surreal and wacky piece of self- referential theatre.
The slick, funny and irreverent writing, much of which is written in East Coast dialect, is peppered with rude and naughty bits as befits a daft festive show. In spite of some wonky timing and entrances, this was a confident team production where a multitude of roles are played by the young cast. Among these, assured and promising performances were delivered throughout by Euan Gilroy, Iona Soper and Zoe Hedge who respectively shone as the Russian cleaner, the King and the Director. An entertaining and refreshing show from some very 'bright young things'!
Strange Town Young Company is for 18-25 year olds who want to develop their skills as actors, writers, directors and designers. The company writes and performs its own material in Edinburgh venues.
Recommended age 12+