2015FIVEFEE_ANV“Who ever heard of a girl called Johnnie?”

Who indeed, but here is little Johnnie Wylo and she’s made a deal with The Wind, in exchange for her heart, no less, to save her small southern town. There’s a storm coming and according to The Wind, everyone is going to die unless Johnnie can prove there’s some good somewhere in this small town.

Which turns out to be a hard ask, because what with a corrupt Mayor and sycophantic officials, there doesn’t seem to be much good around this town in the deep south. Johnnie, it turns out, is also on a journey to find out exactly what happened to her father, a man who tried to do some good for the community, and to avenge his death from a mysterious ‘accident’.

Johnnie’s story unravels with a wave of foot-tapping songs. The cast are also the band, and complete with fiddles, banjos and all manner of other stringed instruments, they sing their way through this tale of little Johnnie and her deal with the wind. The twanging live music in this show is simply brilliant. In fact, the creativity this storytelling is a joy, from the use of shadows and light, foot stomping and tap dancing.

 Sometimes I felt a long way from Kansas, and sometimes like I was about to meet Scout Finch, perhaps because the plot twists and turns so much it is easy to get lost and lose track of it. However, Five Feet in Front (The Ballad of Little Johnnie Wylo) is a bizarre but brilliant piece of theatre. Johnnie’s battle with her small town oppressors will, I think, stir the hope and determined underdog in all of us.

Five Feet in Front (The Ballad of Little Johnnie Wylo) is playing at Northern Stage at Summerhall (Venue 26b) from 19-30 August as part of the Edinburgh Fringe. For more information, visit the festival website.