City Life

3/5

Clockheart Boy — Royal Exchange, Manchester

9/4/09 Kevin Bourke

AFTER a very successful run at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Dumbshow have revived their enchanting family tale about the fragility of innocence and the painfulness of truth.

Featuring an ensemble cast of twelve (surely the largest ever seen for a touring show at the Exchange Studio?), the show opens with a touching exchange between the Professor (Jack Cole) and his young daughter Sophie (Hester Bond/Sophie Robinson).

But then it becomes clear that this is only happening in The Professor’s head and that Sophie had gone missing nearly 30 years before from the mysterious island castle where they lived with a group of robots, each with special abilities reflected in such names as Peepers, Wheels, Ears, Grabby and Bulb.

When their combined efforts utterly failed to find her, the robots were switched off.

But now the Professor, having failed to discover her fate through reliance on equations, revives them once more whereupon they discover that a boy without a heart has been washed ashore.

Brought back to life by the Professor and his creations, albeit with a clock for a heart, the naïve Clockheart Boy (Jack Lowe) not only manages to put them all back in touch with their emotions, but also helps them confront the mysterious Ballerina (Rachel King).

Obviously there are echoes of Edward Scissorhands here – not least in the look of Clockheart Boy – but that’s nothing to be ashamed of and it was not only the children in the packed audience who were enthralled and moved as this charming show unfolded.