Reviews: The University of Wonder and Imagination & My Super Special Disability Roadshow cover photo

Reviews: The University of Wonder and Imagination & My Super Special Disability Roadshow

Reviews: The University of Wonder and Imagination & My Super Special Disability Roadshow cover photo

Robert Softley Gale and Sally Clay have been disability campaigners for years, but they learn a thing or two from 10-year-old Oliver Martindale and seven-year-old Oona Dooks in My Super Special Disability Roadshow, available online as part of this year’s Edinburgh International Children’s Festival.

While other Edinburgh festivals are still hedging their bets in a climate of significant uncertainty surrounding opening up and social distancing, the pioneering Edinburgh International Children’s festivals has forged ahead with a programme of outdoor theatre and digital offerings. Others could look to them.

My Super Special Disability Roadshow sets the tone of pushing at the boundaries with a piece whose rainbow cheerfulness comes with a fierce belief that children can teach us a great deal and are best placed to move our thinking on. This is a show full of empathy and wisdom.

My Super Special Disability Roadshow. Photo by Chris Dooks

The government seems to think that it knows what children need post-pandemic: longer school days and tutoring. I reckon that what they need more is wonder and imagination not more maths. But they can get both with Cahoots NI’s The University of Wonder and Imagination, a show that invites the over-sevens into a university full of surprises run by a professor who understands that “sometimes the closer we look the less we see.” Sometimes it’s just good to let your mind wander and what better place than in an educational establishment whose motto is “In imagination we trust, and in wonder we must.”

Like a lot of digital shows for adults it employs magic, most notably some conjuring tricks to explore the wonders of maths, probability, time and space as we visit various departments in the university and meet the professors, including one who calls himself a mathi-magician. He’s not over-selling himself.

It would be great to have a little more narrative connection and some segments work better than others, but the potential of this show—like the potential of children—is enormous, and it’s a timely reminder that the world is a wondrous place and our schools should be places of wonder too.

You can watch The University of Wonder and Imagination online until Sat 5 June and My Super Special Disability Roadshow until Sun 6 Jun. Tickets here and here.

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Lyn Gardner
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