HOW COLD MY TOES.
by Travelling Light Theatre Company.
Tour to 6 July 2014.
Runs 45min No interval.
Review Timothy Ramsden at Polka Theatre (Adventure Theatre).
Child’s play for all seasons.
Bath and Bristol have developed major contributions to theatre in recent years – and that includes young people’s theatre with The Egg at Bath Theatre Royal and Bristol’s Travelling Light, which at 30 is considerably older than its intended audiences.
This show, for example, focuses on 2-6 year olds, though it will delight most parents too, in its deft movement (Champloo Dance, Bristol’s youth-oriented choreographic company, the region’s neat feet with street cred, were its co-creators) and simple depth. Definite images of climate are used alongside recognisable childlike behaviour to build a voyage through the four seasons that is humorous and captures the moods of times warm and cold.
There’s skilled choreography from Champloo’s Joêl Daniel (who also performs) and pleasant support from Pete Judge’s musical score, while designer Katie Sykes provides bright yet gentle colouring to characterise the seasons. But it’s director Sally Cookson whose theatrical intelligence makes the most of familiar ideas, giving the seasonal voyage a freshness, energy and joy which resonate with childhood’s enthusiasm, curiosity and expanding awareness of the world around.
As with Cookson and her company’s work generally, this is not something presented ‘at’ or ‘to’ children; it is an experience created out of understanding of and genuine interest in young people’s emotional responses and intelligent reactions to their environment as they learn about the regular cycle of seasons and build a mental landscape of life in a temperate clime.
Both characters are friendly in the kind of unexplained way the very young can be without background or reason, but through compatibility in being together. Yet there are occasional moments of tension, and surprise events demanding choices in response. It’s part of the process young people learn as the turning world brings new realities and the landscape changes colour, and warmth or cold take hold.
There is no need for outlandish events – which makes the piece stronger and its characters’ journey, together yet clearly as individuals, more interesting. For life, at this stage, provides enough interest in itself.
Skilfully constructed and finely paced, the show intrigues as it delights in its invention and skilled performances.
Cast: Joêl Daniel, Laura Street.
Director: Sally Cookson.
Designer: Katie Sykes.
Music: Pete Judge.
Choreographer: Joêl Daniel.