Bristol Old Vic are catering for all age groups with their Christmas shows this year, and yesterday I headed into the newly refurbished Weston Studio to see Chloe and the Colour Catcher, a show aimed at four to seven year olds. Chloe lives in a world where the only colour that exists is grey and children are taught in school to not question why this is. However, when Chloe sleeps, her dreams are filled with colour and happiness. Hushed by her parents and admonished by her teacher for daring to voice her dreams, Chloe remains determined to unleash all the colours of the rainbow on her grey and boring world. Will her beloved Grandma Magenta be able to help Chloe defeat Her Greynesty The Colour Catcher, or will all traces of colour be washed away forever?
I came to see the show without children as I couldn’t quite spring them from school in time, but I had my 6 year old firmly present in my mind as I thought about whether she would enjoy the show. The answer is a simple ‘yes’, I think she really would. This is a great little show with a really likeable cast and a simple and easy to understand premise. The actors engage with their young audience before the show even starts, being present on the stage, introducing them to Smokey the cat and delighting in the colourful clothes that the children are wearing. This was the first show of the run and there was a moment of interruption due to a technical hitch, but the actors handled it like total pros so it really didn’t spoil the enjoyment.
I felt that there was something for everyone in this show. I was able to feel stirred at the themes woven in to the show of fighting against oppression, and standing up for what you believe in. I love to think of the children in the audience being inspired by Chloe who is on the surface a sweet and innocent young girl, but underneath all this is feisty and a little anarchic as she challenges an unjust and miserable reality. For the little ones, they will simply delight in the engaging plot, eventually colourful and vibrant stage setting and some really joyful audience participation at the end of the show. Although the subtleties of the plot and its undertones of celebrating diversity and questioning authority will be lost on the lower end of the age range, older children can engage with these themes, and as a parent is great to see a piece that is enjoyable and entertaining, but perhaps a little more challenging than standard children’s theatre.
I’d really recommend Chloe and the Colour Catcher, and there is plenty of time to catch it at Bristol Old Vic as it is on until Sunday 6th January. I left the Weston Studio feeling uplifted and smiling, and determined to bring as much colour into the greyness of winter as I can. Now, where did I tuck away those red tights of mine?
Review by Karen Blake