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Review: White

The Ark

Imagine a life without colour? Well Wrinkle and Cotton are custodians of such a place; a soft monochrome universe that is the world of White. The happy pair perform their daily rituals with studied care. They brush their teeth, share breakfast, give their nests a thorough dusting, and police the borders for any sign of red or green or blue, which might disrupt the peaceful calm of their snow-white home.

Created by Andy Manley, White is as playful and as serious as one of Beckett’s terse mime plays. In Gill Robertson’s superb production, the clowning makes clever, subtle use of the actor’s opposing physicalities: Sean Hay’s lanky loping and Ross Allan’s stockier bumbling. Manley imposes a natural hierarchy upon them, but it is the curiosity of the childlike Cotton that eventually shifts the dynamic. As he lets a single splash of joyful colour into their world, the pair realise what they have been missing, and soon an explosion of light and shade changes everything.

Shona Reppe’s wonderfully inventive set for Scotland’s Catherine Wheel’s Theatre Company is a paradise of white-bright inspiration, assembled from familiar craft items like pompoms and reels of wool. Birdhouses conceal miniature rooms. Wigwams have hidey-holes and peek-out places. Despite the set’s simplicity, there are layers of surprise within it which create a palpable sense of anticipation when colour eventually begins to appear. However, the denouement it is not merely a riot of the pigment and chromes, and White holds an important moral message about difference for an audience of two- to four-year-olds, too.

If the end of the 40-minute play is dramatic, the transition to real time is handled naturally, with the actors encouraging the audience to join them on stage, before reminding us that is time for their nap. As they usher us into the real world again, it is with an appreciation for the vividness of a single colour and the fun to be had in a rainbow-filled room.

Until October 4th
- Sara Keating

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