Performed by a Russian theatre group, Colors is a pleasant tale for children, which celebrates the values of diversity and tolerance. The colours on an artist’s palette board take turns in a talent show, aiming to demonstrate which of them is the best (spoiler: they’re all equal).
The principal set decoration is a larger-than-life palette, from which emerge the lithe pigments (and in which, when they are not centre-stage, their disembodied heads bob and scowl). Passionate red bursts out to perform a flamenco-esque dance, of the sort reminiscent of a demented but solidly mid-table Eurovision entry. Easy-going green brings with her a host of similarly-hued friends (frog, peapod, grasshopper). Being a puerile-minded thirty-something, I was discomfited that the juggler quite clearly displayed both peas and the pod, Labyrinth-style; happily though, purer souls than me simply enjoyed his japery.
In like fashion, yellow sings, serene blue appears to be in the trance tent at a 90s festival, and black thuds about the stage in tap shoes, a cross between Liza Minelli and the Wicked Witch of the East. So far, so Inside Out, you may think. But while the Pixar hit matches emotions to colours, Colors matches them to different art forms; the concept is simple and well-realised, and the variation it allows kept the kids engaged and entertained. A particular highlight was the underwater expanse conjured by blue, a magical sequence realised using a polytunnel and a handful of glowsticks.
Unfortunately, the group’s staging doesn’t fit well within the space, and seats on the left and right edges suffer a severely restricted view as a result. Venue staff are happy enough for children to move around and perch on the central stairs, but parents in a full house (which it nearly was on my visit) might not get the full picture. I also found the frenetic opening particularly hard to follow, as the colours start to establish their personalities through the medium of a grand melee; and the animated Russian proverb that forms the show’s penultimate flourish maybe loses something in the translation, and is conversely a bit too ponderous.
Still, it’s hard not to warm to such an energetic and enthusiastic performance, and the worthy message at its core. Wonderful costumes, simple and effective interaction with the young audience, and a playful delivery combine to paint a convincing picture.