The last thing you would expect in a city like Edinburgh is
to be swept away to the ocean.
But swept away, we were.
Ned and the Whale is the story of a nervous boy, obsessed with facts to keep him safe who gets taken into a magical and fanciful world inside a book, meeting exciting and interesting characters, helping each of them along the way, and in turn, they help him to overcome his fears.
Flossy and Boo bring this story to us in the form of puppetry, recycled props and costumes, musical interludes and comedy. Now, anyone who knows me, knows I am obsessed with puppets and Ned and The Whale are no exception. They are little things of beauty, and Anja Conti, (Flossy) and Laura Jeffs-White (Boo) manage to move them with ease and such perfection, that we even forget that there are real humans behind them.
But do not take that as they forget where they are – their facial expressions mimic the character’s and shows that they are really invested in their work and the story.
When not handling puppets, they are either other interesting and hilarious characters such as the twins in a cave obsessed with slime and parties with rocks, or a stranded pirate, missing his disappeared crew. Each character I fully formed, well thought out and with their own clever unique qualities. This isn’t Flossy and Boo, this IS the pirate, this IS the twins.
And then added to this, another dimension as Laura and Anja – those who know this group will know how well a relationship they have on and off stage, and how they play on this; calling out each other’s silliness, being other funny and likeable characters. Usually these are as Flossy and Boo as we know it, but this time around we know them as Anja and Laura, and love them just the same.
Audience interaction is key for children’s shows, and this is no exception. Child or adult, we all are given eye contact, smiles, no one is excluded; we all get ‘slime’ put on our heads, we are all asked for suggestions and we all love the whimsy and comedy.
Musical interludes are delightful, simple with acoustic guitars or banjos, with beautiful harmonies and funny concepts. Personally, I could happily sit with an album of just their music and walk away happy.
Ned and The Whale is a triumph of a production; fun, comical and magical, it still manages to teach us vital lessons of life and we leave the tent they are in, smiling and elated.