Wednesday, March 14, 2018


Can You Hear Colour? 

Collaboratively created by Naomi Edwards, Alan John, Kathryn Sprout,Ben Flett,Michaela Burger, Bethany Hill and Sally Hardy with Nathan O’Keefe, Tim Overton and Chris Petridis. Directed by Naomi Edwards. Composed by Alan John. Designed by Kathryn Sprout. Patch Theatre. AcArts Main Theatre. Adelaide Festival . March 9-15 2018

Reviewed by Peter Wilkins

Patch Theatre's Can You Hear Colour. Photo: Paoli Smiths'

With its latest production, Can You Hear Colour, Patch Theatre continues its fine tradition of providing high quality theatre experiences for very young children. Before the play begins a member of the company talks with the small children who have been brave enough to leave their parents in the tiered seating and sit along the front of the stage. In a gentle, friendly voice she asks “What is your favourite ice-cream flavour?’ and “What is your favourite colour?” Eager arms shoot into the air.
Suddenly a girl (Michaela Burger) comes dancing onto the stage, leaping at leaves and listening to them. She has the gift to hear music in Nature and see colour in Nature. Every leaf she holds has its own musical sound, and in a world where music is so often a background accompaniment, the young audience is encouraged to listen for and hear  the unique components of music and see colour without distraction. The children’s eyes sparkle as their vivid imaginations take flight and Alan John’s composition fills the stage with music and song.
Like every good story, there is always a problem to be solved.  A captor of colour (Alan John) enters to remove the leaves strewn across the stage and bottle then in a colourless glass container, while the young girl runs to rescue them.  A dithering, comical figure, speaking in rearranged sentences, the bumbling villain of the piece is easily outwitted, but continues his quest to find the Rainbow Bird (a gloriously sung operatic performance by Bethany Hill). What ensues is the struggle to bring colour back to the world. And teach the colour captor the beauty of music and colour in his world.
Like every good story, an You Hear Colour” ends happily ever after and the girl’s gift restores colour to the beautiful Rainbow Bird and the man removes his drab colourless clothes to reveal a rainbow coloured costume beneath. And all delight in the magical world of colour and music.
Director Naomi Edwards directs this story with simple, easy charm. There is no high flying technical wizardry, although there is the magical appearance and disappearance of colour in the glass jars. There is no evil, terrifying villainy, but only the foolish, silly collector of colours. There are no  complex notions or facts, but only a delight in the imagination and the love of colour and music in the world around us.
Patch is a company with perfect understanding and appreciation of its target audience. Burge’s central character is as innocent and playful and imaginative as her young audience and adults too can delight in this production’s colour, music and infinite charm.