How to Be a Kid delves into the 12-year-old world of care-confusion when the roles are reversed and Molly is forced to look after her younger brother, Joe, while her mother copes with the death of her nan.

One of Fringe’s most unique venues, Paines Plough’s Roundabout @ Summerhall, sets the scene with an unadorned circular stage surrounded by bright seats. Molly, brilliantly performed by Katie Elin-Salt, confides her family’s secret to the audience in a series of energetic asides which not only frame the dialogue with engaging storytelling, but perfectly evoke the excited inner-workings of the pre-teen mind.

“Supergirl, that’s something my mum calls me,” she explains. Supergirl can do everything: the washing, the stories, the tea. Never again will you see adult actors capture such youth so poignantly. It’s not the tragedy of the situation but the resiliency and strength so persuasively articulated in Molly and Joe’s language that makes this such an important, heartrending portrait of a struggling family.

The third and final cast member is more impressive still. Sally Messham plays the mother, the nan, the care worker and most notably, Taylor, Molly’s best friend from her five weeks in care preceding the play. Her performance captures the innocence, the challenge and the strength of childhood in care as well as the compassion, fear and struggles of motherhood.

As devastating as it is encouraging, this touching one-act play is perfectly suited to provoke thought and compassion in mature children or to entertain and move adults.

Words: Emily Hall

Picture: Jonathan Keenan

How to Be a Kid, Summerhall, Aug 13-20 (not 15), 10:45am

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