White, Traverse Theatre, Review

Rating (out of 5)
Show details
Catherine Wheels in association with Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh
Andy Manley (creator), Gill Robertson (director), Shona Reppe (designer), Danny Krass (composer), Craig Fleming (lighting designer), Ian Cameron (collaborator), Paul Fitzpatrick (producer), Louise Gilmour Wills (projects manager), Craig Fleming (production manager), Robbie Fraser (stage manager), Suzie Normand (stage manager)
Ross Allan, Sean Hay
Running time

Formed in 1999 by director Gill Robertson, Catherine Wheels has consistently delivered on both style and substance, earning an international reputation for the very highest standard of children’s entertainment. ‘White’ originally premiered at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival in 2010 where it won three awards. This current run at the Traverse is part of a world tour that began at the Imaginate Festival last spring, and by the end of 2012 will have performed as far afield as Australia, America and Japan.

White, their first production for under five year olds, is set in a cosy, calm world in which everything is very clean and very white. There are white birdhouses perched on white poles of different heights and a wigwam made out of a patchwork of white materials, from under which protruded a pair of white-stockinged feet. Another character, dressed all in white, sits knitting tiny white woollen bobble-hats – not dissimilar to the one he himself is wearing.

Gently and with care the two protagonists, Wrinkle and Cotton, go through their daily ritual of washing, eating, working and napping. They catch white eggs that fall from the sky and welcome each one before housing them in a birdhouse appropriate to their needs. While going about their daily cleaning routine, if anything is discovered that is not white, it is responded to with fear and thrown immediately into the bin.

One day a red egg falls from the sky and Wrinkle insists it is put in the bin. Cotton does this reluctantly but rescues the egg later when Wrinkle is asleep, placing it with love inside an unoccupied birdhouse. After this, colours begin to appear. Each birdhouse glows with a different coloured light creating a rainbow of gentle brilliance that initially disturbs them until they finally admit to each other that they love colour.

With a creative team to die for, it was not surprising to find that this entrancing piece of theatre had once again been sprinkled with a liberal dusting of creative magic.  This was a production that mesmerised both children and adults alike, with a touching simplicity that belied the very clever design and execution of some beautiful effects. Strips of brightly coloured paper showered down from the sky in the final moments, catching the light from the glitter ball that swirled above, leaving everyone with a little bit of sparkle – magic!

Showing until 14 April, 10.30am and 1.30pm

Read Irene Brown's review of White from the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2010