For Families Reviews


ComedySportz started with laughs and continued to deliver them throughout the entire show! It starts with the “referee” running in blowing a whistle which warms people up and gets them more excited for the show.

We are then introduced to the competing teams and the games begin! This family oriented show doesn’t leave the audience out, oh no, it constantly involves them and the energy never drops.

Each team is competing for points and completes various challenges trying to get the most laughs, whoever gets the most/ biggest laughs wins the points and whoever gets the most points wins!

The audience gets to choose what the subject of the improvised comedy sketch is, and the two teams have to work together and think fast to beat their opponents! This kind of comedy show could go either way but because it is clever and just simply funny, it works! It is family friendly and amusing for people of any age.

Annie Burgess

FLYING THE NEST - HandMade Theatre

A large audience turned up to see HandMade in the Pavilion Gardens. The set was beautifully made it looked warm and inviting and there was a buzz of excitement in the air before they began. Even the seats for the audience members were beautifully handcrafted. Ten minutes before the show the actors were wandering around the park, playing their instruments and encouraging people to come and watch…a tactic that obviously worked!

Children were invited to sit in the beautifully made nests, as it was a bit breezy most snuggled in with a grown up and looked very cosy. It is definitely aimed at a young audience and it was these audience members who stared wide eyed at the swooping birds and were the ones desperate to get an egg to look after.

We were welcomed to Hatchling College where we went on to learn many facts about our native birds. The birds were either introduced through puppetry or by the actors donning wings, or a cloak. The piece was an interactive blend of song, dance and facts about birds. Each nest was given a bird to look after and feed and each group got to find out what their particular bird ate and got to feed them wiggly worms, mice and so on. The actors, Gareth Price-Baghurst, Benjamin McElroy and Suzy Gunn, were warm and engaging and had the little ones up and dancing in their nests. The children loved getting wet with water and goose poo and became mildly hysterical when the female bird was chasing the poor heron around the nests.

This was a fun piece of interactive theatre for young children.

Jayne Marling

GRIMM TALES - REC Youth Theatre Company

I was expecting a dark and sinister retelling of these well-known fairy tales by the ever popular Buxton REC. What I saw instead was a fantastically funny romp through some of Grimm’s finest! What a talented cast of young people. The opening was really cute as the smallest members came on stage and brought it to life. From that moment on, it was more fun than the fair on the market place!

The audience were laughing out loud in many places of this charming piece. The golden goose scene was particularly hilarious with some wonderful, well delivered lines.

The whole piece had a homemade feel to it with the cardboard props and the simple costumes. It made you really warm to the performers and their determination to make the best out of these items. The forest was a good idea as it grew and came to life and the younger members worked well together to carry this off.

I loved the idea of surgery scene in Little Red Cap; just let the lovely young ladies who were holding the screen know the best way to hold it to get the creepiest effect. I would like to see transitions tightening up and more confidence to not worry when things go slightly wrong…the audience doesn’t know what’s supposed to happen!

The acting was good across the board. However, I do have to give a special mention to a couple of the actors who multi-role played with skill and a huge sense of élan. Daniel Walton played a most marvellous Hare whose gesture and voice showed a great sense of comedy; he also appeared to delight in the role of the wolf! Aidan Rhode was a natural comic actor, his portrayal of Mrs Hedgehog, Grandma and Rumpelstiltskin were all faultless (one to watch in the future I feel!)

All in all, a lovely piece of drama by an enthusiastic young cast. Well done to one and all.

10th &11th July at 5.30 Arts Centre Studio

Jayne Marling


The Kagools is a fantastically hilarious romp. Two rainproof friends take the audience on a journey using utterly brilliant physical comedy and clowning.

Nicky Wilkinson and Claire Ford combine live physical action and pre-recorded on screen antics with the skill of a double act who really know each other. Their use of music and silence is exquisite…just how long can a silence last and still be funny…a very long time I think is the answer. During the show loads of props are used to excellent effect, it is amazing how many can fit into the pocket of a waterproof jacket.

Sometimes audience participation can feel uncomfortable, but here the Kagools show an excellent understanding of and sensitivity towards their audience. They made excellent use of willing audience members; a picture was even taken that appears on their Facebook page! I have to say that I can’t remember seeing a show where I have genuinely laughed from start to finish. This is a comedy sensation for all ages; it is a family show in the true sense of the word. Go with your children, go with your Auntie Hilda, go with your great grandad just go!!! This is family entertainment at its best!

Oh, did I mention that they are mute throughout? No? When you have facial expressions like this pair then who needs words?!!!

Jayne Marling


Morgan & West are no strangers to the Fringe, and their reputation preceded them. I'd heard they were good and I was not disappointed - this was a great show, full of magic, silliness and fun!

From the opening address to the final death-defying, amazing underwater finale they had the audience where they wanted them, and never let them go. I took the whole Parker Heath clan along (and one more) and the kids thought it was great, especially as they got to be part of the act on more than one occasion! Not only that, but they made Cara's (the little girl sat next to us) day as she told her mum it was the very first time she'd been on stage!

It isn't only magic, there's deft word-play between the protagonists, plenty of audience participation and something for young (and frail) and old (and frail) alike. My wife Catherine was almost in tears at various times and was hugely impressed by the show. It was a pleasure to be in the audience for such an engaging and enjoyable show. They are on again this evening – BE THERE!

We'd give it 10/10.

Ian Parker Heath

NANA & NUNU - THE BIG SNEEZE! - Dame for a Laugh

What do you do when your aardvark gets the aardvarkachoo? Don't know? Well in this adventure for very small Fringe-goers, that very tricky question gets an answer!

In a charming tale for young ones, Dame for a Laugh give anything you'll see on Cbeebies a run for its money. The story is easy to follow and the dialogue is appropriate for a young audience, add to this plenty of chances to join in, sing happy birthday and cheer and you have a recipe for a fun time.

I took my son Sebastian along and he was engaged with it all – especially as he was on stage again (he stepped on the boards with Morgan & West least week too)! I asked for his expert opinion and he said it was good and he liked it and what he liked most of all was joining in. So there you have it.

The show is on again at a more family friendly time of 5.45pm on Thursday and Friday, so if you have under-5s who want to see a show instead of a cartoon on TV, this is the one for them!

Ian Parker Heath

PUNCH AND JUDY - FoolSize Theatre

The spirit of anarchy embodied in the wooden figures of Punch and Judy was expertly brought to life by Foolsize Theatre (Christopher Murray and Joanne Tremarco) as, ignoring the Underground Venues front of house supervisor, Judy (red cheeks, big nose) led her audience down into the Pauper’s Pit for a dose of finely judged lunacy for all the family. The audience were happy to follow her anywhere.

Punch meanwhile is the endearing wife-beating, throw the baby out of the window, maniac he always was, an antidote for authority in all its guises, from a policeman to the devil. His spirit of mischief is always present, taking the audience with him no matter how outrageous his actions.

Punch and Judy taps into all the elements of the traditional seaside entertainment and is genuinely a family show. Children will love the knockabout comedy (often delivered with an actual slap stick) while adults will enjoy the knowing humour at their expense. Murray and Tremarco are skilled practitioners, employing mime, movement and clowning techniques to great effect. Perhaps the end needs work, but this energetic and funny show deserves to be seen by a wider audience, whatever their ages.

Robbie Carnegie


Roll up, roll up, come one come all to a great show featuring Theo the Mouse, Wendy the ring mistress and Wink the clown. Magic, music, singing and dancing it’s all here. This is a fun for all the family show. Wendy tries to keep order whilst performing magic, singing, dancing and carrying out ‘death defying tricks’ but ‘Wink’ the Clown and Theo are not quite as good as they think they are and keep messing up and messing around.

Theo has a catch phrase. I took my small grand daughters with me for moral support and the catch phrase they remembered was ‘its on the floor’ which they repeated (and demonstrated) all afternoon!! The audience was not huge but everyone joined in with the hand clapping, singing, ooooing and aaahhing and a good time was had by all. There are prizes to be won for helping Wendy keep order, and when asked which was her favourite part, my eldest grand child stated ‘when Theo gave me some sweets!!!’ when asked ‘anything else?, she said ‘All of it, I loved all of it’.

I thoroughly enjoyed the show, even the cringe worthy jokes by Wink and Theo, and I thought a particularly nice touch was for everyone to have their photograph taken with Theo at the end free of charge.

Make your way to the United Reform church this afternoon, it is worth the trip.

Linda McAlinden


Stone and Water have been a fixture of the Fringe for as long as I can remember, always bringing good ideas and a relaxing atmosphere to their imaginative outdoor workshops for young children - as well as some good messages about looking after the environment.

Their Tiny! Shows, involving making adorably tiny people out of pipe cleaners, material and scraps, have been running in the Pavilion Gardens since 2010 and are as popular as ever with their first session on Sunday morning attracting some 45 people including parents and guardians.

Gordon MacLellan, better known as Creeping Toad, leads the workshops with plenty of patience and humour, wisely allowing young children’s creativity full rein. When I was there they created fairy pirates, glam pirates with fake tans, pirates so excited that their heads fell off, funky explorers, mermaids and all sorts of hybrids of those. The Stone and Water team have realised that parents and children like to treat this as a drop-in event so nothing is too structured and the children are encouraged to do what they are really burning to do with their Tiny people – namely run around with them a lot.

The children show great involvement – so much so that I heard a parent saying with a tinge of desperation: “Can we go home and have some lunch now?” Needless to say it fell on deaf ears – it was far too tempting to stay under the tree with the pirate bunting and all those colourful materials!

For more information about all Stone and Water’s fun activities see:

Stephanie Billen