The Scotsman

4/5

Clockheart Boy -- C Chambers Street, Edinburgh
8/8/08 Anna Millar

THIS charmingly skewed fairytale showcases the welcome return of creative collective Dumbshow to the Fringe. This talented ensemble bring writer Sam Gayton’s enchanting story, part fantasy, part tragedy, to life, taking their inspiration from the likes of Plato and the dark master of the silver screen, Tim Burton.

Heartbroken by the loss of his daughter 28 years before, an eccentric professor builds a magical world for himself, complete with a band of patchwork robots and idiosyncratic misfits. Together they coexist behind the walls of a castle, a dreamlike prison, protecting them from the outside world.

When a boy washes ashore with a hole where his heart should be, The Professor embarks on his greatest experiment yet: bringing the boy back to life by replacing his heart with a clock. Wound up by The Professor, Clockheart Boy meets a ballerina, loses his heart and embarks on a journey to find acceptance and love.

Children will love the colour and energy, while adults will wonder at this subtle story of love, loss and friendship. Gayton’s motley crew of misfits are a joy to watch, each of their talents – Peepers’s extraordinary eyesight, Wheels’s roller skills, Ears’s fantastical hearing -– defining what makes them special and sets them apart.

While Burton may be the master of the solitary outcast, Dumbshow creates a small army, bonded by their powers and forever joined by their eccentricities.

Wholly imaginative, the show’s gothic undertones mask a feeling of wonder for what is and what might have been for The Professor and The Boy, with the silent tick of his heart, constantly suggesting a “use-by date” to life as he knows it.

Fantastical costumes, a tender script and an energetic cast ensure Gayton’s search for belonging is nothing short of a spectacle, while the child-like delivery harks back to a propensity within us all to make-believe.

Special mention, too, for Rollo Clarke, who does a lovely job as composer and performer of the show’s musical score.