The Edinburgh Festival Fringe is the biggest arts festival in the world, with nearly 3,500 shows. This year, Playbill is in Edinburgh for the entire month in August for the festival and we’re taking you with us. Follow along as we cover every single aspect of the Fringe, aka our real-life Brigadoon!
A large tree stands in the middle of the stage. Over the course of the show, a young girl (Sally) and a Christmas Beetle (Simon) will traverse the tree in every which way. They’ll climb up it, peer around it, swing from its branches, and fly from limb to limb. But the tree is more than a prop for the talented physical actors that dance around it. Tree, as it’s called, represents the prototypical tree and its brethren in the time before humans uprooted so much of the plant life on Earth. (Yeah, it’s pretty abstract stuff, but this is also a children's show being performed at 11 am.)
The play takes us back in time to this primordial epoch as the pair search for Simon’s (played by Lloyd Allison-Young) lost family. With simple narration and astounding aesthetics, Beetle is a classic-feeling fable about the importance of finding—and holding onto—your roots. To see what we're talking about, watch the Playbill exclusive video above.
Legs on the Wall, the Australian theatre company behind Beetle, superbly blends a touching storyline with visual splendor. Beautifully rendered animations (from video designer Susie Henderson) are projected onto the the back wall, depicting everything from a suburban backyard to the cellular connections between plant life. At one point, Sally (played by Christy Tran) runs up the surface of the tree as shadows of falling trees crash thunderously around her. She leaps up into the air, supported by a bungee cord, before landing gracefully back on the wall. It's a spectacular moment. (You can spot this moment in above video of Beetle.)
Legs declares its mission as: “To make meaning in a rapidly changing world through transformative physical theatre.” This reflects itself in the creation of Beetle, where the sets were constructed using recycled set pieces from prior Legs productions. This is definitely the show of the Fringe that changed my perspective of the natural world that surrounds and includes me.