Thursday, February 22

Zog & The Flying Doctors – Edinburgh Festival Theatre

Another reliable bedtime tale from the Julia Donaldson canon, the one thing you’re sure of is rhythm and rhyme carrying the story along to its denouement with an unerring pulse. Our 9-year old gave this show 7/10, observed ‘the book was better’ declaring; ‘it shouldn’t have been like a musical’. It’s possible he was older than the target demographic, but he had a point. Fair, creating an hour of theatre from a book that takes fifteen minutes to read requires some embellishment. Colourful, bouncy and energetic it was but this felt bulked out and overloaded, the original ‘script’ lurking but ultimately submerged beneath the new music and material. Unfortunately, possibly due to an imbalance betwixt the music/mics volumes, the lively initial ‘re-cap’ of Zog’s dragon training (from the first, eponymous, ‘Zog’) was, sadly, unintelligible. It’s ok, we’ll get into the story we thought, but the flow from episode to episode that we’re familiar with was delayed and interrupted courtesy of the wedged-in additional material.

Which is all a bit churlish maybe because the costumes (Louise Smith) were great, the choreography (Tom Jackson-Greaves & Edwin Ray) excellent, the performances (Lois Glenister’s ‘Pearl’, Sarah Freer’s ‘Mermaid’) fabulous and we were won over by what at first seemed like a descent into Panto by Danny Hendrix’s ‘King’. The ‘Bang-Crash-Thump’ of each Zog landing gave the performance some punctuation, there were a few notable quips (the NHS standing for ‘National Horn Service), and hopefully the overall message that ‘even princesses can become doctors if they so wish’ will persist with kids – of all genders – for years beyond this production.

Zog could fly but struggled with landings, this felt just a little the same, but, what the heck; the foyer was alive with excited children on the way out.

Playing until 13 July,

Reviewer: Roger Jacobs

Reviewed: 9th July 2022

North West End UK Rating: ★★