It’s a mild Wednesday evening when I head into the Botanic Gardens to the Noel Lothian Hall for a mid-week dose of the Fringe. On this evening’s agenda is Gulliver’s Travels, presented by Welsh theatre company Familia de la Noche in collaboration with Hartstone-Kitney Productions.
I have always been a fan of the re-imagining of classic literature and the likeable Gulliver’s Travels does not disappoint. Familia de la Noche take us on a rollicking ride through the extraordinary Elizabeth Gulliver’s travels to Liliput and the Brobdingnag, and her struggles to make it as a journalist in the misogynistic 18th century. We learn that she wrote under a pseudonym, Lemuel, and eventually was instructed to take on the ‘impossible assignment,’ an investigation into the talking horses of Houyhnhmns.
Gulliver’s Travels employs film, puppetry, and a fantastically absurd set to share Elizabeth’s story. The puppets are wacky and wild, and they work oh so well. Much of the credit must go to Keill Smith-Bynoe who takes on a myriad of characters with apparent ease and to hilarious effect. His performance is versatile, entertaining, and an absolute highlight. Becca Cox portrays the gritty, spirited Elizabeth Gulliver with gusto and just the right amount of heart. Props also to the ‘puppeteer’ whose command of both the zany set and the multitude of puppets is admirable.
The show takes a darker turn in its final moments, giving Cox the opportunity to showcase her range with a heart-rending few scenes as Elizabeth regresses in the land of the Houyhnhmns. The twist that follows is a nice touch and garners an audible reaction from those sitting around me.
Raucous, heart-warming, and genuinely good fun, this is one not to miss.
Star rating: 4/5