I don’t want you to think that I’m losing my critical faculties but I’m about to write my second rave review in a week.
From its provenance I expected Peter Pan at The Dukes in Lancaster to be extraordinary, and it was. White, on the other hand, is world-famous, and I’ve been trying to see it since it premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe in 2010 and you couldn’t get a ticket, not even for ready money. So it was with glee that I read the email inviting me to see it at HOME, where it’s playing at 10.30am and 1.30pm every day until and including December 23.
Before I go any further, the auditorium only has 60 seats and they’ve sold out lots of the performances already. If you have anyone aged two or over in your family, including you, get online now. And I’m not exaggerating when I say it’s world-famous. After its success at Edinburgh it’s completed more than 1,500 performances across the globe, and this team has just come back from Tokyo and Beijing.
White is a deceptively simple story. It’s a piece of work whose clarity and directness conceal the huge amount of skill and experience that went into its construction; you’d be forgiven for thinking ‘what a beautiful, simple little piece of work’. It’s gorgeous to look at when you arrive, intriguing and hilarious as it develops, and leaves you with lots to talk about with the kids, or indeed yourself, afterwards.
You’ll notice that I’m avoiding saying anything specific about it, but you have my enthusiasm, and the photos, to go on. Suffice to say that under Gill Robertson’s expert direction, Callum Douglas and Sean Hay play Cotton and Wrinkle with charm, precision and delicacy, and make us laugh a lot. Shona Reppe’s set of birdhouses on sticks is a magical marvel, and Danny Krass’s soundscape and Craig Fleming’s lighting are as gentle as the care Cotton and Wrinkle bestow on the eggs they look after.
Aimed at two to five-year-olds, it’s a good example of recent developments in theatre for very young audiences. It’s significant that it was created by a team who have been working for young audiences for more than 20 years, and it’s not an accident that multi-award winning Catherine Wheels, the producer, is a Scottish company. The infrastructure required to allow theatre for young audiences to thrive is much more resilient north of the border.
Catch it if you can.
By Chris Wallis, Theatre Editor
Images by Douglas McBride