I’m a seasoned festival goer and my children, not always to their delight, are too. We love the Children’s Imaginate Festival held in May for its non commercial creativity. The Fringe also offers this but you have to look a bit harder.

Danyah Miller understands children.  As soon as we and others took our seats in the Pleasance venue she was welcoming us and asking questions about birthdays, cakes and all things party related. No child could resist telling her their favourite things about birthdays. She had the children engaged immediately with a warmth that made them relax and interact immediately.

I took my nine and a half year old, eight and six year old boys to the opening performance. Whilst Conrad was most definitely the oldest there, his concentration didn’t falter throughout the fifty minute performance. The skill of Danyah’s story telling and the magic of the props had him mesmerised as well as his younger brothers.

The show begins with Danyah starting to make a birthday cake and adding the ingredients. Telling the audience about the family traditions for her daughter Sophie’s birthdays, talk of birthday breakfasts and presents drew the audience in. After adding the flour, the cake is popped in the oven.

Danyah continues with the story of Kika the French mouse and her family Flour, Egg (who is always hungry),  Sugar and Butter organising her 5th birthday party is peppered with a ginger cat on the prowl. What I loved was the gentle introduction of a potential baddy, not too scary for the younger members of the audience but with the use of music and props, just enough to know the cat might have intentions other than befriending the mice! As the show progresses the aroma of the cake actually baking adds to the magic.

The prop makers have done a stupendous job – our favourites were the salt and pepper grinders, painted green with attached food clips, turning them into grasshoppers. Picnic baskets were piled high for the mice to sit on; colourful bunting gave a birthday party feel; a sieve as the cats face and a long orange balloon as its tail were simple but perfectly creative for young minds.

Walter (aged 6) gave it 5 out of 5 and both Magnus (8) and Conrad (9) gave the show 4 out of 5. High praise from seasoned festival goers! As a parent the imaginative use of props, interaction with the children and expert storytelling made it a must see for this year. Michael Morpurgo has described Danyah Miller as a ‘storytelling phenomenon’ and I couldn’t agree more.

A wonderful treat at the end of the show was little taste of cake everyone received courtesy of our own wonderful Cuckoo Bakery here in Edinburgh. It cemented the attention to detail in this inspiring show.

Ideal for 3-8 year olds show is on at 11.30am at the Pleasance Courtyard until the 13th August so perfect for a pre-lunch show and you can grab a seat afterwards in the Pleasance Kidzone with your picnic. Tickets available here.

P.S. We were kindly gifted these tickets for the purpose of the review – but all thoughts, words, and opinions are of course, our own!

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