Having seen my fair share of slapstick this festival I was looking forward to a performance with a bit more depth. What The Moon Saw aims to introduce children to the magic of the arts through a performance which incorporates elements of dance, theatre and circus. In my view, it achieves that aim in an accessible and enjoyable way.

Having turned out for the opening performance on the Festival’s wettest day yet, we were delighted to receive a warm welcome from the dancers. I was in no doubt as to the child-focused approach of the performers as two of them interacted with the waiting children with ease, striking up conversations about toys or bed times. We were then guided into the auditorium and gently tucked in beneath large blankets, ready to join young Jack as his imagination ran wild.

It seems slapstick is never far away at a children’s Fringe show so there was a small amount of falling over and bouncing off things at the beginning. Jack then wishes the room goodnight in a nod to Margaret Wise Brown’s classic bedtime story, Goodnight Moon, before tricking his father into thinking that he is safely settled in bed. But not for long…

The moon itself then comes to life, looking on while Jack sketches out chalk drawings and embarks on several surreal adventures from dancing with a chimney sweep to sailing the high seas and befriending a dragon.

I wasn’t aware of the original Hans Christian Andersen tale before watching the show and it is not required reading. However, if there is a weakness in the show it is in conveying the thread that holds the pieces of the performance together. My daughter asked a lot of questions about what was going on. When she ultimately accepted that anything might happen she was able to enjoy the visual impact of the performance. Things became clearer when Jack finally settled back into bed, surrounded by the three props which had triggered his three adventure sequences.

For me, this show ticked a lot of boxes – interesting concept, professional staging, impressive physicality, wonderful original music score (I could have happily closed my eyes and just listened) and superb delivery; particularly from Jack, who worked incredibly hard (wearing a warm onesie) yet made it appear effortless.

A brilliant bonus is the after show opportunity to go up on stage to draw with chalk, and to chat to and take pictures with the dancers. Allow time in your schedule to make the most of this as they are all really nice guys.

What The Moon Saw was a proper theatre experience in a proper theatre space. It earned a ringing endorsement from my four-year old who announced that she liked it better than The Amazing Bubble Man, which we saw later the same day. High praise indeed. This makes me very hopeful for the cultural future of our household.

You can see What The Moon Saw from Aug 13-14, 16-26, 11.00, at ZOO Southside – Main House. Tickets from here!

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

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