Outsider art has gifted the world many interesting and unique talents. This overlooked art-form centres on amateurs who go on personal quests to create extravagant and magical buildings, paintings, sculptures and objects for pure pleasure. They create art for arts sake and these precious artists are the subject matter for The Castle Builder.
The show begins when performer Vic Llewellyn presents a tiny axe to the audience and begins to smash up a wooden chair. During this moment of anarchy, fellow performer Kid Carpet takes a microphone and stumbles around the stage while singing a song about smashing things up. This is the first of many quirky songs which litter the performance. Some of these songs are catchy, but they pretty much all exist to emphasise the storytelling. After the chair has been given a hell of a beating a young art student picks up pieces and takes them to the back of the stage. Throughout the show the audience can see her gluing the fragments together, but what she is creating is kept a mystery.
The Castle Builder has the appeal of a kids show. The two performer talk, look and act like children’s entertainers. They are all big smiles, wide gestures and clear and succinct words. The show itself is not billed as a children’s show (it has an age recommendation of 12+ in the fringe programme), but if some of the language was tamed down and if the story was paced differently it would be a straight up kids show. This is a bit of a problem if you are an adult hoping for an engaging and interesting theatre performance.
The show doesn’t really hit its stride until the very end. Here we are given a slide show about different outsider artists who have created brilliant and widely ignored works of art. This section unfortunately flies by too fast. The performance concludes when we view what the art student has created from the smashed up chair. Here we are presented with a brilliant and inventive sculpture made from shards of broken wood. This beautiful art offers a satisfying conclusion to a fairly entertaining show that may have slightly misjudged it’s audience.