Les Saisons

Review by Holly Barradell (aged 29) & Madison (aged 16 months)
A Compagnie Sans Soucis production of Les Saisons (The Seasons)
Reviewed at The Gulbenkian
For ages 5+ (although babies on laps were welcome too!)

What a treat to be able to see a production that was visiting from France, to listen to a play in both English and French (and it’s available in Norwegian too!) and, unlike the last time we were at The Gulbenkian, to experience it in a more intimate setting, with both the performers and audience on stage. Though most of the young audience members were talking with their parents in English, they weren’t phased at all when sections of the performance were in French.

Compagnie Sans Soucis (meaning Carefree Company) travelled 270 miles (after creating this production nearly 2 years ago) from Caen to Canterbury, and I was pleased to see a full audience for the performance – especially after reading the truly inspiring story of how the company and this production were created. Les Saisons (The Seasons) is billed as ‘accessible from 5 years of age’ and I would agree – although my little boy stayed engaged, he did struggle with some of the quieter, more subtle moments. The older children, on the other hand, were generally gripped, though some were scared at points too.

Les Saisons begins in autumn and moves through the year round to summer, going full circle not only in the plot but also in the circular set construction. The circumference is a ring of water with the centre of the construction dedicated to a natural material that represents the season, as well as a puppet for each season too. The best thing about this production was the hugely sensory experience from the crunching leaves of autumn, the projected images of winter with icy fog coming off the water, to the sand of the summer. Being given the opportunity to touch and look at the puppets at the end of the production added to this.

For a one man show, plus two on stage musicians, the performers worked hard to guide their young audience through the story. It was difficult at times, with some really dim lighting, an actor dressed all in black, and long periods of silence but the occasional voiceover and projected footage did help to keep them on track with the story.

Definitely a production for the over 5’s but what an experience: a bi-lingual production with a full sensory overload. A very simple play layered with amazing technical features, puppets, dance and sand!

Holly is a Drama Education consultant who trained originally in Stage Management at Bristol Old Vic Theatre School. She became a secondary Drama teacher before moving into curriculum design and reform. Holly is part of the exec at National Drama as well as Vice Chair of Governors at her local primary school, and most importantly is a Mum to her 1 year old little boy. You can read more about what Holly gets up to on her blog. Tweet Holly @drama_holly

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