Dr Stirlingshire's Discovery: delightful family theatre from Grid Iron and Lung Ha
Track down a new species at Edinburgh Zoo in this touching drama about brothers and sisters
It's always exciting going to the zoo, but to be nipping in after hours is doubly special. Not to mention the promise of discovering a totally new species of animal.
Starting off in the Budongo Trail building, which houses the chimpanzees, this new collaboration between Lung Ha and Grid Iron reunites two of Scotland's leading theatre companies for their first production aimed at a family audience. Grid Iron's speciality is immersive performance and it has added subtle elements to the zoo to tell this story of a family rivalry between zoo director Henry Stirlingshire and his sister, the famous cryptozoologist Dr Vivian Stirlingshire. This includes signage and cryptic clues as to the nature of Dr Stirlingshire's latest discovery.
It's worth arriving a good half hour early, not just to look at the chimpanzees going to bed but to work out the specifics of this new animal's poo, footprints and food – although these could be better indicated and work best when parents help youngsters understand what they are.
Lung Ha is Scotland's leading company for actors with learning disabilities, and once the show starts its large ensemble not only takes up the majority of main roles but is able to provide plenty of surreal scenes along the route, from a penguin parade to escaped hens and a herd of marauding stags. There's plenty to delight on many levels – from the trail left by the escaped discovery itself, to punning wordplay in Morna Pearson's script and performances that are both funny and find the emotional heart of the Stirlingshire's' relationship.
At Edinburgh Zoo until Sun 9 Apr.