Having witnessed the live wire antics of Kid Carpet (aka Ed Patrick) and Vic Llewllyn at the secret gig in the week, Michelle Dee was more than ready for The Castle Builder, the smash hit show from Edinburgh Fringe in 2016.

The show opens with howling and the wanton destruction of an innocent wooden chair. The Castle Builder sits somewhere between a show and a lecture, it is about building things, particularly things that might be considered castles. An English man’s home is his castle, it would seem that the maxim holds true for a particular kind of artist, who make their homes all over the world.

’Never ever get a proper job.’

With Vic explaining the origins of the ideas for the Castle Builder show – namely a trip in the wilds of Scandinavia and the auspicious sighting of the first castle. There follows a devilish tale about Berserkers and a king called Hagar. A sketch of the Scandi pile of bricks projected on the back wall, is followed by a black and white picture from the thirties of the architects who designed the New York skyline, dressed as their retrospective structures. ‘The Architect’ is an ode to the original architects who designed all these iconic monuments and is delivered with all the customary hijinks and audience participation. 

Using Google and Youtube as source material (‘cos that’s how you make a show, right?’) the pair came across Jim Bishop, a renegade castle builder creating his own fantasy structure in the Colorado desert. Jim, brought to life by Vic, is just one of a crop of oddball inventors who with singular determination and stubborn resolve embark on madcap schemes.

Another song in the show pays tribute to all those people who make things, and is dedicated to the local maker Sue Caulfield, who has been busying herself, back of the stage, turning the smashed chair into something new and sculptural. The song prompts the listener to think about the intrinsic value of creative expression, ‘ What have you done… paint a wall or a face…’ 

‘If you want to do something right do it yourself,’

The Castle Builder reminds me a bit of Whicker’s World or the Clive James Show: those globetrotting shows that celebrated and shone a light on the wackier, oft hidden, aspects of human behaviour. A lecture with silly on purpose synth-based songs, raucous dancing, a table of toys and bread.

The tomfoolery belies a well-crafted show from an endearing double act, filled with historical insight, emotion and sheer joy for all the castle builders of the world.  The overriding message, as artist and maker Sue presents her work made during the duration of show, is that the world feels all the better for these people and their crazy palace building ways.