Bugsy Malone

Thu 2nd – Sat 11th August 2012


Oliver Arnoldi

at 07:31 on 5th Aug 2012



Out of all dramatic characteristics, charm is perhaps the one you cannot teach. With primary school students, admittedly charm may be easier to come by, but that is what the Portobello Youth Theatre holds in abundance. And with this asset it is able to provide a production of ‘Bugsy Malone’ that consistently entertains, humours and reaffirms faith in the state of youth theatre.

By far one of the youngest ensemble casts performing at the Fringe, a Prohibition-era gangland musical such as this can easily be compared in subconscious contempt with other shows seen at the Festival. Yet a testament to how the company from east Edinburgh handles itself is the way in which it acknowledges its own limitations: the age of its cast members, the simplicity of its set and props, and the naiveté of its subject matter are all potential problem areas, but it is the teasing self-reference to them throughout that only serves to strengthen the conviction of the production as a whole. The ‘violin’ player that serenades Blousey and Bugsy at their Italian dinner date is actually the whines of one of the ensemble, whilst accents can often oscillate between the east side of the Bronx and the east side of Edinburgh. The streamers that fly across the stage during the show’s climax mimic the scenes at the end of a wedding more than the bullets of a Chicago gang fight, but quirks such as these do not detract from the performance, allowing an endearing and at times hilarious levity to be found in all areas of the script.

Nonetheless, certain performances stand out; the lead role of Bugsy is carried with a confidence that belies the young actor's age, and the comic timing of Shady, the double-crossing sneak thief, is superb. A mention must also go to the quiet self-assurance of Fizzy, a role which is played with ease and includes a beautifully-sung rendition of ‘Tomorrow’.

In a sentence, go and see it. The most satisfying thing about this production is the realisation that the cast are having as much fun as the audience. It is with performances like this that the point of amateur dramatics is proven: to move and entertain an audience, but most importantly as an actor, to move and entertain yourself too.


Hannah Buckley

at 09:58 on 5th Aug 2012



A theatre full of proud parents and little kids awaited the start of 'Bugsy Malone'. The excitement from both the audience and the cast was present in the air, and when the play started this excitement was met.

The lead star, playing Bugsy Malone, is fantastic. His accent is brilliant, and he steals the show completely. Yet he is not alone in his clarity and great performance. Special commendations have to go to those playing Blowsy, Fat Sam and Knuckles, whilst Shady was also very funny and gained a lot of laughs from the audience. She also did well to switch between different roles.

It was not just the acting that was good, as the singing too was very impressive. The chorus numbers were loud and clear, and there were some really sweet-sounding voices. The young actress playing Fizzy, had an excellent voice, performed great renditions of the well-known songs.

The play moved swiftly, and considering that most of the cast were under ten years of age they were very professional, especially when there were a few errors that happened on-stage. You can’t help but let your heart melt for a lot of the characters, and this made them even more entertaining. It is a show where you can see why the parents are so proud, and is perfect as a lunchtime family play.


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