Yellow Pears[author-post-rating] (2/5 stars)

I’ve a soft spot for generous and unpretentious performers, so before I cast aspersions on Swept Up Theatre’s Yellow Pears, I have to emphasise that it’s a lovingly made if clumsily-crafted show, powered by energetic performances if not by theatrical nous. Aimed at children and adults alike, it’s a simple tale of friendship between Itsy (India Crawford) and Raz (Rose McPhilemy), two misfits running a market-stall museum of precious expedition artefacts, strictly not for sale. Trouble comes along when the pair are pitched against the evil watchdog dogsbodies at the Ministry, a sinister organisation intent on commodifying the duo’s hoard. Unfortunately enough, ambitious Itsy rather likes the sound of her own office space, whilst Raz, descended from a long-line of adventurers, is torn between her new-found friendship and the call of the wild.

Whilst it creates a warm, welcoming atmosphere and contains some genuinely funny moments, Yellow Pears flounders because it lacks momentum and purpose – aspects that are quite crucial if you’re going to keep people entertained. Sure, it’s got great dance moves, endearing optical trickery, and a really rewarding skit about job-interview role plays. All in all, it’s inoffensive and well-intentioned stuff, but it’s difficult to rave about it when it rambles somewhat unconvincingly to its confusing conclusion.

There’s also a significant tension between the children and adult elements of the show. The jokes, though rib-tickling enough, are often quite complex. The long-running gag about Itsy’s ridiculous CV works as a quietly biting satire on graduate jobseekers, and the Ministry-imposed rules of the marketplace  – “no velour!” – get a definite giggle, but probably not unless you’re at least in secondary education. Whilst there’s certainly nothing wrong with sparse staging, this production doesn’t utilise the space ambitiously enough and ends up feeling rather empty. If only Swept Up Theatre intensified everything by about two hundred percent, pushing colour and sound and characterisations to the absolute maximum, then Yellow Pears might really deliver something sensational. Given time and effort, that glimmer of promise could flare up into a full blaze of glory.

Yellow Pears is playing at Zoo Main as part of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival. For more information and tickets, please see the Edinburgh Fringe website.