Reviewed by Flossie Waite
Filskit Theatre production
Reviewed at
Stratford Circus Arts Centre
Touring nationally until May 26th
For ages 6-18 months

For almost a decade, Filskit Theatre – Katy Costigan, Sarah Shephard, and Victoria Dyson – have been making theatre for young people; it has been remarkable watching their journey from emerging artists to one of the leading companies in children’s theatre. Over the years, they have explored different styles and performed for different ages, each time taking the best ideas and the most successful moments on to the next production. So, while every show is original, engaging, and has that undeniable Filskit quality, the tangible sense of evolution means each new piece of theatre is better than the last.

Photo: Zoe Manders

How lucky the very littlest audience are, then, that with their latest show Kaleidoscope, Filskit are turning their attention to baby theatre for the first time. Though making a performance for 6 – 18 month olds is an entirely new endeavour for the company, which required its own period of intense research and development, you can still see how it builds on their last show. Bright Sparks explored how the two sides of the brain work while Kaleidoscope looks at a different area of biology: how a baby’s sense of sight develops, and how they instinctively begin to categorise colour. Both shows are predominantly wordless, communicate sophisticated ideas with simplicity and acrobatic facial features, and use light bulbs that seem to have a life of their own.

Photo: Zoe Manders

When babies are born, they see only in black, white and shades of grey. This monochromatic palette makes for a stylish set design – performer Victoria Dyson (the three Filskit members share the role) dressed in a black and white ‘60s style shift dress Twiggy would be proud of, sits in front of a shiny grey tent, surrounded by what look like large hanging black jewels. Over the next twenty or so minutes she explores the space, sounds, objects and light, until her world is gradually coloured in, and the stage is transformed into a vibrant kaleidoscope.

Dyson’s performance is entrancing, and perfectly timed. The young audience watch completely transfixed until the temptation to join in becomes too much, but just as they start making a dash for the stage, the show shifts into play, with shiny coloured cloth and glowing orbs distributed to every baby.

With the success of this production comes the promise of the next –  I don’t know what it will be, but I know I will be in the audience.

Children’s Theatre Reviews exists to help plug the gap in criticism and writing about theatre for young audiences. It is run entirely voluntarily, and needs support to continue covering and supporting the sector. For more information and to help give children’s theatre the voice it deserves, please visit our Patreon page.

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