Children’s review: Sam Rose in the Shadows
Edinburgh Fringe Scotsman review: Sam Rose in the Shadows at Bedlam Theatre (Venue 49), reviewed by Kelly Apter
Death may be a part of life, but rarely is it part of children’s theatre. The harsh reality of human mortality isn’t an easy topic of conversation for anyone, let alone parent and child. But if there’s one thing that Sam Rose in the Shadows makes loud and clear – if you’ve been touched by bereavement, then talking about it is far better than not talking about it.
The framework for this message, beautifully constructed by Tucked In productions and Hal Chambers (also responsible for a stunning Romeo and Juliet at this year’s Fringe) is a father-son relationship, both of whom are depicted by skilfully operated puppets.
Widowed father, Sam Rose spends each day roaming the streets of London, searching for a way to open his Sad Things Box and empty out its contents. Meanwhile, stuck at home with a tutor and never allowed out, his six-year-old son Ivan is sure his father is out slaying dragons. Having exhausted all possibilities for adventure at home, and longing for time with his dad, Ivan sneaks out onto the streets in search of him. Together, they meet the all-knowing Oracle, and confront the hook-nosed, long-clawed Keeper of the Keys.
All of this is presented by a strong ensemble cast, who use music, narration and astute characterisation to take this young boy and his sad father straight to our hearts. The entire show is rich in metaphor, but none more so than the journey both these characters go on to find each other. Each step Sam and Ivan take through the city is another step closer to each other emotionally. When Sam chastises his young son for leaving behind the safety of home, Ivan reminds him, “you don’t know what I’m capable of, because you don’t know me”.
The quest to open the Sad Things Box is equally heavy with meaning, but delivered with such subtlety that some children may walk away from this show with no idea what the box actually contains. That is when the interesting conversations can start.
MORE INFO: Sam Rose in the Shadows is at Bedlam
Originally published in The Scotsman