Fest Magazine


Clockheart Boy -- C Chambers Street, Edinburgh
13/8/08 Yasmin Sulaiman

The most memorable fairy tales are often the ones that don’t succumb to a happy ending. Dumbshow, the theatre group behind the hugely imaginative Clockheart Boy, seem to know this implicitly. In this wondrous, fantastical tale of a Professor searching for his long lost daughter, the performers create their own warm and vibrant world, fashioning a story of heart wrenching innocence and a moving depiction of the crippling effects of grief.

The audience is confronted by the Professor—at once brilliant and bonkers—and his house full of unique robotic creations, each made with its own specialist skill. Among these eight delightfully shambolic helpers there’s Peepers, clad in bright rainbow colours, whose shiny eyes can tell truth from lies, and the pompous Bulb, whose bowler hat is skilfully adorned with an in-built light bulb. In their collective search for Sophie, the Professor’s daughter, they come across a boy with an empty chest; he is rescued and gifted a clock for a heart, joining the motley gang as the wide-eyed, wild-haired Clockheart Boy.

As the characters strive to help the Professor put his search for his daughter to rest, Rollo Clarke’s haunting original compositions are played beautifully throughout on a piano nestled in a dark corner of the stage. The vivid costumes are crafted in truly intricate detail: Brolly, who provides shelter from the rain, has a fully retractable umbrella attached to his permanently worn bicycle helmet, while another cartoonish image of an umbrella is stitched to the back of his trench coat.

It’s this wide creative scope that makes Clockheart Boy a play of such stunning visual and emotional impact. And while the play can verge on the overly saccharine and sometimes loses narrative focus, it’s a breathtakingly original production and a fascinating insight into the limits of human creation.