Underbelly Festival, London
Stephanie Merritt, The Guardian August 24th, 2010
a typical comedy club night, complete with heckling and banter but without the swearing (and with more poo jokes)
Over the past few years, as the fringe has expanded, the number and variety of family-friendly entertainments has grown with it. Edinburgh during the festival is a fantastic place to bring children and it need not cost a fortune. If you’re lucky with the weather, you can take in the street performers along the Royal Mile for the price of a handful of change, or listen to the buskers along Grassmarket or in Princes Street Gardens. Better still, you can walk through town and encounter pirates, zombies, robots, kings and queens and all manner of talking animals.
But there are also a wealth of shows tailored especially for children, and some of the big venues have started to wise up to the growing number of families visiting the fringe. The Pleasance is running its Kidzone for the second year, this time with a wooden ark and a non-smoking cafe area where children and their parents can spend time between shows; they also offer, for the first time, the Dropzone, where qualified childminders will look after your kids in a safe and fun environment while you take in an adult show, for £5 per hour, and they will put you in touch with approved babysitting services if you want your evenings free.
There is also the haven of the book festival in Charlotte Square Gardens, where a variety of storytelling shows, writing workshops and author events will keep children busy.
It’s my eight-year-old son’s second visit to the fringe this year, and here is a selection of the best shows we managed to see in a week:
James Campbell began to popularise the idea of adapting traditional standup to children’s themes some years back and since then a number of well-known comics from the fringe have faced some of their toughest crowds at the Bongo club.
Here kids get to experience the form of a typical comedy club night, complete with heckling and banter but without the swearing (and with more poo jokes). Campbell comperes most days and performers have included the likes of Adam Hills and Jason Byrne. (Ages six to 13)