Roger McGough’s Money-Go-Round is playing at the Assembly Rooms Ballroom venue at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival until the 27th of August.
Adapted from the children’s book of the same name, Roger McGough’s Money-Go-Round originally transitioned from book to stage in 2022 and now comes to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2023. Celebrated poet, McGough, explores the stresses and absurdity of money via a fond nod to Kenneth Grahame’s Wind in the Willows and uses this as the vehicle to hopefully educate a younger mind on the ills of caring too much about money.
This musical adaptation presents the old riddle that if one can quickly move the same money along from person to person, clearing debt as you go, then perhaps some people (or in the case of Roger McGough’s Money-Go-Round, some animals) could suddenly find themselves debt free as long as the money circles back to the first person and is then refunded to the original customer… stay with me.
Not your usual choice for the dramatisation of a children’s tale, so hats off to McGough and the producers for their bravery. This is all charmingly wrapped up in the twee, Wind in the Willows spin-off world of Toad, Rat and Mole et al and times as an adult, it does tonally jar a little. However, it is done with a raft of lovely songs, a solid script and excellent production values.
The production shines most through its talented cast. There are no weak links and the energy is upbeat and performances articulate throughout. The well created and maintained anthropomorphic choices mean we are treated to humans who are clearly playing animals but there is no faffing around with fur, heavy make up or prosthetics. The songs and harmonies are beautifully precise and the set and costumes smack of the highest quality you will see at the Fringe.
My 8 year old particularly enjoying A Globe Trotting Rat, sung brilliantly by James Dangerfield. She felt most connected to the very sweet character of Lavender Mole (Elizabeth Robin). For me, the story structure was predictable and repetitive, with little dramatic tension but be assured, my child really enjoyed it. I asked what she felt the story meant and she alluded to the notion of using money responsibly and that paying those who may need it most as the best course of action.
Money is a fallacy. The pandemic proved that and so it feels timely that we should be trying to encourage our children treat it as such and even find a better way to stay happy and keep the world turning. Not-so-hidden within this children’s show is the serious reminder to, as one of the songs says “Let the river flow”, live in the moment and focus on the right things in life. A solid lesson.