Recently, I was discussing what’s in store for me next year with a friend. I’m months away from graduation, and I couldn’t be more terrified for its arrival. I said that the approaching Summer haze, that should usually be filled with luscious greens, warming yellows and a rainbow spectrum of flowers, instead felt like a “massive grey cloud”. When it hits, how am I supposed to know who I am or who I’m meant to be as the metaphorical rug is pulled from under me, and I’m left with uncertainty regarding my future? Even now, I feel the looming grey tendrils creeping into the world as I navigate around it: who knew colour could have such a weight?
So it’s really quite fitting that I was asked to go and see Chloe and The Colour Catcher; it was one of those moments where things work out in such a way as if they were meant to happen all along.
Theatre Ad Infinitum have devised the story of a girl called Chloe (Charlotte Dubery). She lives in an all-grey world in what I presume is two-thousand-and-greyteen. She drinks grey-juice, eats greynola, and spends her grey days playing with her grey cat. One night, she sees this strange colour in a dream: the colour of the sun, of bananas, of rain-jackets and sometimes even umbrellas (according to one enthusiastic audience member). Upon discovering yellow, Chloe starts to question the world as it is and the lack of multiplicity within it. We learn of a world drained of its democratic vibrancy by Her Greynesty, The Colour Catcher. Teaming up with her Grandmother Magenta (Hannah Kamen) and headmistress Greyvina (Peter Edwards), these Rainbow Rebels use their imaginations to travel to the green depths of the jungle, and down to the blue depths of the ocean, gradually believing the colours of the rainbow back into the world.
I firmly believe that children are the best kind of audience members; they actually understand what Peter Brook meant when he famously said “a play is play.” Young minds have the generosity to believe in the constructed world immediately, and are not afraid to react, interact and to experiment with what’s in front of them. Nevertheless, Ad Infinitum conjure a convincing Pixar-esque world that glimmers with the spirit of Roald Dahl’s Matilda, a concoction which can be enjoyed by child, (dare I say) teen, and adult alike.
Three boxes alone transform into several items including beds, prison cells, and the colour-draining transparificaiton machine, to name a few. The performers multi-role with boundless energy and wide-eyed curiosity as together they light the stage with life. Performer and multi-instrumentalist Brian Hargreaves’ original music and songs beautifully underscore the magical action, ingeniously punctuating the movement and mesmeric puppetry.
I came out smiling wide with eyes watery, and I started to see the colours of the world shine a little more brightly than before.
Chloe and The Colour Catcher is playing at The Weston Studio at the Bristol Old Vic until January 6. For more information and tickets, click here.