Note: This review is from the 2015 Fringe

@ Pleasance Courtyard, Edinburgh until Mon 31 Aug @ 15:20 (not 18)

Sparkle and Dark are a theatre company that like to blend puppetry, live music and fairy tales in new and interesting ways. They last appeared at the Fringe with the excellent show Killing Roger and this year they are back with I Am Beast – a performance that looks at fantasy, imagination and the difficulties of growing up without a mother.

We follow the story of Ellie (played by the excellent Lizzie Muncey) and her superhero alter ego Blaze. Ellie is coming to terms with the death of her mother and at times her imagination gets the better for her. When fantasy takes over she is transported to a day-glo superhero comic book world, which is ruled by the evil Dr Oblivion. During the performance Ellie is stalked by a large ogre like puppet. This is the ‘Beast’ and the creature torments the child and causes her much distress. She escapes his grasp by day dreaming about being a super hero. In this world she can leave the stress of daily life behind.

The fantasy elements of I Am Beast work brilliantly. They include over-the-top ultra violence actions sequences in the style of a John Woo movie. When Ellie begins to fantasise the lights dim and illustrated projections appear on the white back drop of the stage. The music also changes to a pulsating electro beat, played live by Laurence Illsley and this adds to the improvisational feel of the choreographed fantasy sections.

To devise the story Sparkle and Dark spent time interviewing teenagers to gather their experiences and opinions of death and loss. This gives I Am Beast an emotional edge. Death and mourning are big topics and I Am Beast does a good job of exploring these emotions and presenting them with an exciting visual style.