The culmination of a year-long collaboration between schoolchildren across Scotland and young adults in Belgium, As the Crow Flies is an imaginative, inclusive and above all entertaining hour of musical improvisation. The audience – comprised mostly of youngsters of all ages and their parents – shuffles into their seats in front of a stage littered with empty glass bottles, flowers, feathers, rope and bundles of kindling. It’s a setting that seems at once unusual and familiar, and provides an apt introduction to the hour that will follow.
The compere of tonight’s entertainment and director of the work Greg Sinclair soon skips onto the stage, opening by locating Edinburgh in latitude and longitude. He then explains the presence of two wide screen TVs – one of which will transmit a livestream of five children from Dunoon, while the other will show a pair of teenagers from Belgium. Over the course of the performance, the children will interact with each other, with Greg and with the various props on the stage to create a tapestry of music that is both innovative and oddly nostalgic.
Greg proves himself to not only be an intelligent entertainer and astute comedic performer, but also an impressive cello player. Indeed, his impeccable sense of comic timing and his ability on the sizable instrument act as the glue which holds together a show that could be in danger of splitting apart at the seams, such is its unorthodox nature and ungovernable elements (technology and children are often both pitfalls in the world of show business, but thanks to Greg’s competence both are boons not banes).
While the show is certainly aimed at children, its playful sense of humour and genuine ingenuity entertains audience members of far advanced years. This effect is achieved from a mix of the unpredictability of the younger members of the cast, the clever novelty of the idea and the deft skill of Greg in spinning all of these various plates at once. You might kid on that you’re going for the children’s benefit, but this is one family-friendly showpiece that’ll delight audiences of all ages.