Elizabeth Nicholls reviews IGLOO, a show about waiting for the snow, presented by Travelling Light and Bristol Old Vic – a playful and intimate introduction to theatre for the very young.
IGLOO is staged in Coopers Loft, a small, cosy hall with benches arranged in a circle. Children and their adults are invited to make themselves comfortable on the benches or floor and the show begins with a five minute introduction sequence with soft music and gentle movement to help the young viewers acclimatise to the theatre experience.
Megan Brooks and Madeline Shann create a totally believable world with very minimal staging and props; hand woven mats and impossibly long scarfs used to create a beautifully textured landscape.
The show builds through a sleepy beginning with the two friends waking up and donning their hats and mittens, onto a middle section which really embodies a child’s sense of anticipation with much wishing, waiting and window gazing and through to the exciting grand finale when a gigantic scarf envelopes the entire audience bringing us all together to share an experience. Then, the moment we had all been anticipating – the snow arrives, golden confetti and rainbow ribbons tumbled from the rafters forming the shape of a circus tent, the young viewers cooed and gasped in amazement.
I attended this show with my three-year-old son, he found the slow start a little boring but as the show built towards its snowy finale he thawed out and was sat on the edge of his seat grinning by the end. As an adult viewer I found Brooks’s and Shann’s well-observed child-like acting comical in places and heart-wrenching in others; the show was festive and warming.
IGLOO has been designed as a non-verbal show to appeal to a mostly non-verbal audience, despite the show being advertised as suitable for 0-3 I would say it is more suitable for children aged 2 and under. I would highly recommend the show as a first introduction to theatre but my three-year-old is definitely ready for more of a narrative show.
You can catch IGLOO at the Bristol Old Vic until 6th Jan. IGLOO runs for around 30 minutes with an invitation at the end for the children to come into the performance area and explore the textured props.
Photo: IGLOO Camilla Adams