Presented by Patch Theatre Company
Reviewed 9th March, 2018
Patch has done it again! In a 45-minute children’s opera conceived by director Naomi Edwards, composed by Alan John, and collaboratively created by its three performers, the designers, a dramaturg and three extra creatives, synaesthetic magic is fashioned from sound, light, words and movement. This world premiere performance is a charming, accessible, entertaining and cleverly educational show which deserves to be seen, heard and enjoyed by children and their carers for many years to come.
The story is lucidly told, primarily by Michaela Burger. Wearing a simple white dress and tights, she embodies that child in us all who responds emotionally to sensory stimuli. As Girl, she speaks, sings and dances, carrying the emotional responsibility for the plot. Burger has the stamina, skill, energy and empathy to make us care about her character, and her “weird’ ability to hear colours. She is vocally secure throughout all spoken and sung performance demands, and her fine acting maintains focus on the Girl’s colour-and-sound obsessions.
Briefly, the story pivots on a curmudgeonly colour-catcher who wants to capture and remove all colour from the world. He speaks of a fabled rainbow-bird and tries to remove any colourful feathers that bird has left scattered around the stage. It’s the colours in these feathers that the Girl loves, and she hears sounds associated with each colour. John’s lively score gives red, blue, green and yellow distinctive instrumental, melodic and rhythmic treatments, without making the music sound like one of those “worthy” 1970’s music-for-schools exercises.
Composer Alan John also plays the grey-clad, Yoda-speaking, sensory-denying colour-catcher, who finally admits to his own sensory-perception secret. The rainbow bird is performed with quirky avian sharpness by Bethany Hill, who displays operatic vocal range and quality, as well as gorgeous costuming. Design plays a huge role in this piece; the set and costume designer, Kathryn Sproul, has fashioned a beautifully fluid fabric-sculpture set, complete with a sensitive tree (which says “Ouch”) and rapid-growth ivy. Her designs depend on Ben Flett’s lighting design to make the whole visual picture work. Aaron Herczeg, listed as Technical Manager, has a lot on his plate with this show. While it all seems visually simple and charming, there is a huge amount of backstage electronic management of colour and sound elements throughout the piece. Everything works, without looking overtly complex.
Patch Theatre Company is clear about its audience: “Theatre for 4 – 8 year olds” is part of their masthead. This show works wonderfully well for their declared market; very young children sitting at the front on the floor beside the stage showed every sign of engagement and delight throughout the performance. Job done.
Reviewed by Pat. H. Wilson
Venue: AC Arts Main Theatre
Season: 9th – 15th March 2018
Duration: 45 minutes
Tickets: Full Price: $35:00 Concession: $25:00