HOW COLD MY TOES
Unicorn Theatre (Clore Theatre) 147 Tooley Street SE1 2HZ To 18 April 2010.
Runs 50min No interval.
TICKETS: 020 7645 0560.
Review: Timothy Ramsden 14 April.
A joy for all seasons.
Travelling Light’s latest piece, for 2+, is a notable addition to theatre for very young people using the seasons as a way into audiences’ understanding. It’s seen something of seasonal change itself since playing over Christmas at Bristol Old Vic, and now ends its days in Southwark.
Near-wordless – most of the words spoken come in voiceovers from a weather-forecaster – its glory lies in its visual flair and physical inventiveness, from the moments green shoots start – well, shooting – from the three tall rocks backing the stage.
Taking its title from A A Milne’s The House at Pooh Corner and backed by Pete Judge’s sympathetic score, the devised piece lives mainly in its choreography and two lithe performances. Sally Cookson marshals the elements (performance and climatic) in her production, creating a sense of wonder about the annual progress that may still seem fresh for audience members in only their second, third or fourth year.
Bristol-based choreographers Champloo encourage wide, open movement and both performers, Laura Street and Lucy Tuck, springily bring the lightness and apparent ease of dancers to the staging.
Audience-members are gently involved. A buzzing springtime bee may land on their head, and everyone’s encouraged to help, as if by magic, the blooming of flowers as green stalks shoot from the ground to meet petals that grow in an instant from bud to full-bloom. Later, russet autumnal leaves scatter across the floor, while white winter woollens express the cold.
The joy lies in the way the two performers use these objects, and in their own expressions. There’s a sense of wonder and puzzlement as they initially emerge, from winter-sleep as it were, and finally retreat again behind a rock for their next hibernation. As such they’re less individuals than expressions of the mood of each season.
Which makes their mix of wonder and delight in-between expressive of a sheer joy in being alive that should underlie the teething troubles of early childhood; while in their distinct existences and moments of interaction there’s a reflection of the growing sense of self and early intimations of a world shared with others.
Performers: Laura Street, Lucy Tuck.
Voice of the Weatherman: Chris Bianchi.
Director: Sally Cookson.
Designer/Costume: Katie Sykes.
Lighting: Mark Parry.
Music: Pete Judge.
Choreographer: Champloo Dance.
Puppetry: Chris Pirie.
Dramaturg: Mike Akers.