Uncle Arly

My Uncle Arly, Assembly Rooms, Edinburgh
Rather endearingly unhinged, this celebration of the work of the nonsense poet Edward Lear takes the audience on a journey through France and Italy and into places in the mind that no map could ever chart. It gets curiouser and curiouser as it creates a straitjacketed Victorian world and then shows that the lunatics have taken over the asylum.
There is song, there is poetry, there is wordplay (oh for pizza in Pisa). And there are also huge puppet-like figures and some simple clowning and slapstick. Familiarity with the work of the author of The Owl and the Pussy-Cat and other nursery classics would certainly be a bonus, but it isn’t strictly necessary as long as you are prepared to leave reason and sanity behind and go with the flow.
A clever collaboration between physical-theatre company Hoipolloi and the children’s company Tiebreak, this is one of those shows that entirely defies categorisation. It is equally suitable for adults and children, and all it requires is an audience that is prepared to embrace the absurd.
Unlike Queen Victoria we were much amused in a gently entertaining way.
Guardian Unlimited | Arts reviews | 23 August 2003

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