Edinburgh Fringe Preview: Brush – a charming piece of theatre for children

Last year at the Fringe we had Climb a Willow to the Sea God’s Palace, a lovely 45-minute performance from Kkumdongi Puppet Theatre telling a Korean fable using puppetry and painting geared towards a younger audience. This year for the younger festival-goers we will have Theatre Haddangse performing Brush. The company gave a special preview at the KCC on 25 July prior to heading up to Edinburgh, having just performed it in Paris. The audience contained a suitable number of children eagerly seated on the floor at the front, and everyone, of whatever age, thoroughly enjoyed it.

Theatre Haddangse is a 28-strong company which does “serious” adult theatre as well as performance aimed at younger audiences. Currently they have a group of actors performing Faust, and another group performing Brush, in Korea, while five actors and a musician are in the UK with Brush for the Edinburgh Fringe. The company describes itself as creating “eco-friendly theatre”. In the case of Brush (Korean title: 붓바람) this means small-scale, minimal lighting effects, and the extensive use of recycled materials.

The plot of the show involves a young boy, Daesung, who wants a younger brother to play with. He hears a legend from his grandmother that if he goes into the mountains and makes a stone Buddha statue sneeze, the resulting sneeze-dust would have magical properties which would give him a younger brother. The boy heads off into the mountains with his pet pig, Dalbong, on a mission to get his baby brother.

Sneezing is something of a theme throughout the play, as the production starts with a sneezing song, which as audience you can’t stop yourself joining in, before the actors paint two simple portraits of Buddha and Jesus and make them sneeze too.

The performers try to make their Jesus picture sneeze
The performers try to make their Jesus picture sneeze (image courtesy Theatre Haddangse)

The publicity materials for the show promise: “movement, puppetry, and heartfelt accordion melodies entwine in this delightfully inventive family-friendly show direct from Korea,” all of which is true, except that I’m not sure that I spotted any puppetry. This is no matter. The actors are versatile (each is called upon to play a number of parts) and the use of painting on the screens acts to provide the scenery, some props, and also to illustrate the story as the play proceeds.

Altogether this is a show that should delight the audiences in Edinburgh. SterneSterneSterneSterneSterne

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If you can’t make it to Edinburgh, there’s a video of Brush on Haddangse’s Vimeo channel. But every performance is different, and it’s much better to see it live.

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