“Smiling, tuneful, and big-hearted”
Molly Whuppie is a pickle of a lassie. She’s bright, bonny and brave and saves her mother and sister from dying of hunger on a northern shore. She’s a fairy tale character from the Western Highlands , whom English cousin Jack – of beanstalk fame – would love to meet, for their stories are pretty close; although Molly (aka. Maol a Chliobain) steals it, as her baddie is no the giant, but one King Boris (!), who loves his meringues too, too much.
Smiling, tuneful, and big-hearted, Molly Whuppie has toured all over Scotland and has already, since 2001, delighted upwards of 30,000 people. Licketyspit Theatre Company is Edinburgh based but has decided, as the International Festival posters have it, to ‘Welcome [the]World’ so this is the company’s Fringe premier and it’s a treat.
If you’re still fortunate to be in your early years – and therefore very unlikely to be reading this! – Licketyspit is for you. If you’re alongside a young child, then you’ll appreciate the modesty of the fact that all actors do is ‘show the story’ in exciting and imaginative ways. First then, there’s fearless Molly (Amy McGregor) who keeps her pretty red beret on even when balancing for her life on the Bridge of the One Hair, and we sing “I’m Molly and you can’t scare me / I’m Molly, Hee Hee Hee!” Second, there’s Virginia Radcliffe as Ninian the Giant in tremendous sandals and as horrid King Boris with a wonderful polka dot jester’s cap. No crown of majesty for him, just fanfare by kazoo.
Radcliffe is also Artistic Director of LicketySpit and it is easy in Molly Whuppie to see hers years of experience in building drama-led work for children and their families. There’s a good strong narrative where the good and the kind – above all – prevail, constantly reinforced by repetitive elements of colour, music and song. Invention is everywhere, from the reveal of successive kind grannies to land clearance by tree hurling.
Yes, it was probably devised as a December, Christmassy show when Molly, her mum, and her sister are perishing of cold and, yes, there’s the question of how come only giants have a Never Empty Purse; but no matter really, this is a warm and generous show with stick puppets to colour in and cut out afterwards.
Reviewer: Alan Brown (Seen 6 August)
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