The Deep Sea Seekers, The Wardrobe Ensemble at Bristol Old Vic Weston Studio

THROUGHOUT the ages, parents of children aged between three and eight (the age group this show is aimed at) have sought ways to make an unpopular act or medicine more acceptable to the young recipient.

Next time you are faced with this dilemma I suggest you get in touch with one, or if possible all three,  members of this cast. Jesse Meadows, Ben Vardy, Jack Drewry – all members of the Wardrobe Ensemble – devised this hour-long investigation into the perils and dangers of pollution of the world’s oceans.

During that hour many often unpalatable facts emerge about the way in which we are choking and destroying that unique world under the sea with discarded rubbish and plastic waste. As our wanderers drop deeper and deeper through layers of the ocean in search of three missing luminous aqua cubes needed to power their boat of exploration, we are taken via mime and music on a journey that encounters some wonderful fact and fictitious creatures who inhabit the sea.

At every level from the sunlight just below the surface to the deepest part of the ocean in the Mariana Trench they discover man-made pollution, wire and  netting that chokes and destroys, plastic bags, crisp packets and plastic bottles amongst it.

How we can reverse the process and repair the damage are questions that arise. It all sounds a little heavy handed doesn’t it? But not in the skillful hands of this team. Like the favourite sweet waiting after a particularly nasty medicine has been taken, they wrap it all up in a fun-filled package that involves the young audience from the moment they arrive outside the doors of the Weston Studio.

There, Jack Drewry is waiting to introduce himself and write out some individual name tags. Inside Ben Vardy had already made contact with the early birds and was drawing them out on what they knew about who lived in the sea and which were their favourites or most feared.

By the time Jesse Meadows joined the boys, they were all old friends ready to respond to any request to join in and answer any further question put to them. The audience’s response when asked to bring out any waste they had to make sure it was recycled not thrown into the sea, was immediate and fulsome, three large buckets were quickly filled to overflowing.

This is a show where the audience is as important as the players, and that only works when the players are skilled in the art of involving the audience.

This trio watched and responded to their audience with the sort of concentration you would have expected from England opener Geoffrey Boycott in his prime, facing the Australian attack with the new ball. The difference was that whereas Boycott could become so intense that he was boring to watch these three were always on the lookout for a bit of fun even was talking about the horrible Great Pacific garbage patch probably the worse and potentially dangerous area of man made pollution in any ocean.

The production can be seen in the Weston Studio at the Bristol Old Vic until Saturday 2nd November.

GRP