Only five days into the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and my children are already asking me what they are seeing next. It can be an expensive business, especially if you’re not an Edinburgh resident able to make the most of the preview shows and the discounted tickets. In previous years you will have found me studying the brochure, cross referencing theatre companies to previous productions I had seen, just to find the more independent gems. However there is and always has been a bit of risk taking needed and simple pot luck.

We found just that today with Ellie and the Enormous Sneeze brought to the festival by Mouths of Lions. They describe themselves as ‘a group of artists dedicated to creating work that fills us and our audience with joy’ which they most definitely did.

It is based on a book called “The man who has never (hardly ever) sneezed” by Jesse Allam. In this adaptation, Ellie lives with her Aunt Tracy and while out exploring one day, comes across Stanley, a lonely old man. After an accidental sneeze on his birthday when he was a child, which led to an incident involving candles on the  birthday cake, Stanley made it his mission not to sneeze again. So, he has not sneezed in a very long time and subsequently has a very large snot filled nose!

I don’t know a child that doesn’t laugh at the thought of snot and bogies. Ellie’s facial expressions and flicking of (fake) bogies into the audience enraptured them almost from the start. I took my three boys (aged nine, eight and six) and one of their friends (aged eight) and none of them took their eyes off the performance for the full hour.

The warmth and kindness from Ellie towards Stanley when she first meets him is a lovely reminder not to judge people by their appearance. The audiences  imaginations are fuelled with the game Stanley and Ellie play imagining they are in Timbuktu on holiday battling pirates. Ellie’ thoughtfulness by trying to help Stanley is a reminder to help our friends in difficulty or those not having a great time. And as Ellie helps Stanley finally sneeze, the dulcet tones of a saxophone played by Louise Dickinson (who plays the Aunt) are a lovely detail by incorporating a live musical instrument.

A collaborative and agreed four and half out of five stars from the four boys – which meant it was a hit with us! Plenty of heart warming smiles and chuckling from the audience amongst the chat of snot, sneezing, silliness, snot bubbles and playful storytelling made this a delightful show.

Ellie and the Enormous Sneeze is on at the Assembly Roxy until 27th August at 13.30. No show on the 14th or 21st August. All tickets are £8.

P.S. We were gifted 3 tickets for the purpose of this review but all thoughts, words and opinions are our own. Thanks for supporting Edinburgh Life with Kids.

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