Thursday, August 07, 2008

Edinburgh Reviews: Kiddy-Fiddler On The Roof

Interesting one this one. The attention-grabbing title is a bit cringeworthy, but once you get beyond that, there's some good stuff here. Essentially, the plot follows a disaeffected young man who accuses a teacher he is upset with of inappropriate behaviour, creating an unholy alliance between the PTA and the local press which seeks to hound him from his job.

The show is musically not memorable, but certainly competent for the most part (some seriously wayward violin playing notwithstanding), with many of the cast having average to good voices. The writing is somewhat hackneyed in places (the "nation's matriarch" character seeming so familiar it felt like she'd wandered in from about six other fictional worlds at once), but the actors give it their all, and the show is slick enough and well directed enough to, for the most part, pull it off.

The venue, Roxy Main, is not ideal for a musical as lightly mic'd as this one (the actors seemed to be wearing radio mics on their lapels, but any resultant amplification was undetectable to this sound designer), since the wide stage with audience on three sides and reverberant acoustics mean that lyrics are almost never heard by the whole audience at once. This had the bizarre effect of creating little pockets of laughter in the audience in those regions which had heard a particular joke.

And that's the other thing that should be mentioned about this show: yes, it is funny. This seemed to wrongfoot some of the people who I saw the show with, who felt that the subject matter was simply not to be made fun of. The trouble for the moral outrage brigade is that the show makes very few attempts to find fun in the subject of paedophilia. Like the 2001 Brass Eye Special before it, this show is more interested in mocking Middle England's propensity for moral panic when it is mentioned. In doing this, it is sometimes succesful, but about as often it misses the mark, because it's not at all clear what the point being made is. The show makes a half arsed attempt towards the end to have a "message", but it practically admits that it doesn't really know what it is.

So... I enjoyed the show, and I'm sure I would have enjoyed it even more if I'd been able to hear it all, and I might even have been clearer on the show's point. As it is, it's hard to pass judgment on the show. It's never going to be a classic, but it's not terrible - there are worse things around at the Fringe, by a long way.


1 comment:

Julian H said...

You should see Silence in C Minor, if only because my ex is producing it.