annabelle's skirting board adventure

Annabelle is an elephant – the smallest elephant in the world. In fact, she’s so small that she can only be seen through a special camera. In this charming show from Howard Read, creator of the Little Howard series, and Steve Pretty of Hackney Colliery Band, we’re given a taste of life at one millimetre tall. Featuring live original songs and state of the art visual technology, Annabelle’s escapade across the living room comes to life for an hour of fun.

When disaster strikes for Arthur the Man (Read) and his diminutive elephantine friend, it’s up to Annabelle to save the day, proving to children that no one is too small to make a difference. Her sidekick, a moth appropriately named Icarus, is less exciting but steps in to serve as a concert pianist and the object of several visual gags about woolly jumpers. Annabelle, aka Pretty speaking through a trumpet, is an ideal hero, with her strength to overcome adversity and a singing voice which sounds suspiciously like an elaborate trumpet solo to boot. Whilst the show needs a far firmer script – the performers have a tendency to waffle – the story itself is engaging.

Did I mention that she’s animated? A large screen is incorporated as a window into the living room scene. The audience are projected onto it in real time as pre-show entertainment (cue excited children pulling faces at themselves) and it serves as a suitable viewing platform from which to spot Annabelle and friends. The technology is brilliantly used; the children love the opportunity to meet the animated creatures apparently right in front of their eyes. With a show so reliant on technology, there’s always a risk that things may not go to plan and on this occasion Annabelle flickered on and off the screen like a ghost elephant. Technological mishaps sorted by Tom the Happy Happy Camera Gnome (the less-than-impressed Tom Clutterbuck) and Annabelle’s Skirting Board Adventure was able to continue.

The live music is a highlight of the show. Unlike children’s shows featuring naff nursery rhymes, this production has five jazzy earworms that showcase the performers’ musical talents. With catchy jingles and a good dose of humour, Annabelle’s Skirting Board Adventure will have parents and children alike cheered by this tale of a pocket-sized elephant. Elephantastic.

Annabelle’s Skirting Board Adventure is playing at Just the Tonic at The Community Project (Venue 27) until 30 August (no performance on 18) as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe. For more information, visit the Edinburgh Fringe website.