Melody and Sam: Record Breakers (4 stars)

Melody and Sam: Record Breakers

credit: Ryan Buchanan

A tale of close friendship being tested aimed at children aged 5–8

A modest but lovely show, Melody and Sam: Record Breakers ties a simple tale of trying to do the best you can, into a much wider and weightier story of saving the world from real-life threats.

Performed as part of Edinburgh Science Festival's 'Science in the Spotlight' strand, and aimed at children aged 5-8, the show makes the subject of climate change clear to its audience. Offering a thoughtful, hopeful conclusion that places the responsibility for doing something about it on their, and everyone they know's, shoulders.

At its heart, it's also a tale of close friendship being tested, and coming through trials stronger than ever. Alice Mary Cooper and Ben Winger are Melody and Sam, a bubbly yet clear-sighted pair who bring the innocence of childhood to the bodies of adults, capably hosting the show in the manner of kid's television presenters.

Both want to break records, Melody as an adventurer and Sam through simply wanting to eat as many baked beans as he can with a cocktail stick (it's fun watching him try). Sam can't do any adventuring, because watching his childhood home on the smallest island on the world get flooded has left him with a fear of water.

The pair's separate interests pull them apart, before slamming them back together when they accidentally find themselves on a boat heading for the melting ice floes and Sam's youthful home. Throughout, director and dramaturg Caitlin Skinner directs her cast with the subtlety their skills deserve, impressively balancing a sense of fun and dynamism with thoughtfulness and emotional weight.

Mamoru Iriguchi's set design is striking, a pop-up storytelling book mirrored in its stage-sized, scene-building analogue being used as a backdrop. Of all the lovely scenes, an Octonauts-style dive through the creatures of the ocean is particularly worthy of mention, in a show too good not to enjoy further life at some point.

Reviewed at Pleasance Quaker Studio, Edinburgh.

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