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Fox-Tot! review at Magnusson Theatre, Edinburgh Academy – ‘exuberant chaos’

Daniel Keating-Roberts and Katie Grosset in Fox-Tot! Photo: James Glossop

This is Scottish Opera’s second show for babies; after the huge success of BambinO for six to 18-month-olds, Fot-Tot! is aimed at one to two-year-olds, offering an introduction to opera.

Roxana Haines’ exuberant production embraces the chaos that comes with allowing toddlers free movement around the space, although gentle staff are on high alert for any would-be mountaineers.

The plot is a lot clearer in the programme notes than on the stage, but for those of used to the surreal world of baby books, this isn’t a problem. A little fox (countertenor Daniel Keating-Roberts) explores his woodland home, pretending to be a cat, a snake, a frog and a butterfly, before deciding that it’s actually okay to be a fox. Mezzo-soprano Katie Grosset is the fox mama, guiding her excitable cub through the world. Both do an excellent job of not treading on any crawling babies.

Lliam Paterson’s score is varied and enjoyable, and our 10-month-old was particularly interested in Michael D Clark on percussion. Designers Giuseppe Belli and Emma Belli have done a gorgeous job creating a forest floor covered in tree-stump cushions and autumn leaves, and the frog that unfurls from a leather handbag is utterly delightful (puppet design by Mervyn Millar for Significant Object).

It’s a short, somewhat baffling, story, performed with charm and energy by Keating-Roberts and Grosset. The young audience at our performance were perhaps more taken with the enticing set and props than with the music, but as a taste of opera without pomp or pretension, this hits the spot.

 

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Verdict
Scottish Opera’s new piece for babies is a confusing story that’s performed exuberantly on a gorgeous set
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