EISF: Dr. Stirlingshire’s Discovery, RZSS Edinburgh Zoo, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Grid Iron, Lung Ha Theatre Company, and Royal Lyceum Theatre Edinburgh
Morna Pearson (writer) Joe Douglas and Maria Oller (directors) Simon Wilkinson (lighting), Karen Tennent (design), Philip Pinsky(composer), Ben Harrison (dramaturg), Rob Heaslip (choreographer)
Emma Clark (Little Birdy), Emma McCaffrey (Geena), Nicola Tuxworth (Dr Vivienne Stirlingshire), Henry Stirlingshire (Anthony Strachan), John Edgar (Old Billy), Mark Howie (Mayor of Edinburgh), Neil John Gibson (Thomas), Pauline Lockhart (Monica/Davina), Barry (Kristopher Anderson), Ryan (Jonathan Alien), Hillary (Lisa Jennings), Kyle (Scott Davidson), Penny (Kay Ann Jacobs), Sally (Leigh Flynn), Robin( Kenneth Ainslie), Ashley (Teri Robb), Mackenzie (Gavin Yule), Smudge (Colin McIlvenney)
Running time

If you go down to the zoo today you’re sure of a big surprise.

As part of this year’s Edinburgh International Science Festival (EISF), the real Edinburgh Zoo has become a fictional Edinburgh Zoo to play host to this joint production among three very real and established Edinburgh theatre companies, Grid Iron, Lung Ha and the Royal Lyceum.

The performance takes its audience on a promenade adventure that holds wonder in every step to track down the ‘Somefinorother‘that cryptozoologist Dr Vivienne Stirlingshire, played with a playful intensity by Nicola Tuxworth, claims to have found during her travels. Just as it’s about to be unveiled, the good Doctor discovers the ‘Somefinorother’ has escaped from its crate.

Old sibling rivalries still simmer in the hearts of Dr Vivienne and her brother, the Zoo Manager Henry, brought to larger than bumptious life by Anthony Strachan. In spite of having had to play with a stick while she got a horse, Henry has arranged a grand party to welcome his sister home. The local Mayor played by Mark Howie (a real Edinburgh would have been a Provost!) who is more interested in the search for free wine than one for new species, heads up the party guests. Lung Ha veteran John Edgar quietly shines across the performance with some killer lines as zoo retiree Old Billy.

Two separate groups are led across the hilly paths of the Zoo where the route is dotted with the best dressed set of zookeepers in town, like a scene out of a Johnny Morris’s Animal Magic with bells on. They are bursting with sartorial splendour as well as bags of cheek, especially the superbly epauletted dynamic duo that is Neil John Gibson (Thomas) and Emma McCaffrey (Geena) who are a hilarious double act en route.

Under the impressive joint direction of Joe Douglas and Maria Oller, this huge cast entertains all the way, delivering Morna Pearson’s witty dialogue to superb sound and music from Philip Pinsky. Positive accolades like uplifting and inspiring apply in spades to this surreal show that has an elephant’s weight in imagination and a monkey’s cage full of mischief.

This enormously entertaining piece of collaborative, interactive and inclusive theatre holds the serious message about a woman whose mission in life is to discover new species at a time when species are becoming rapidly endangered.

Like all truly wonderful things in life, Dr Stirlingshire’s ‘Somefinorother’ is always just out of reach but manages to hold immense hope. Follow the purple poo in the zoo for a safari like no other!

Please dress warmly and for all weathers as this promenade performance goes outdoors.

Saturday 1 April to Sunday 9 April at 6.15pm age recommend 5+