FOR all those people who think live theatre is only for pensioners and luvvies, Bristol Old Vic’s family shows at Christmas and in the summer must be an unwelcome sight.
Once again the street outside the theatre has been closed off, a makeshift auditorium erected and a show created to delight people of all ages, tastes and political persuasions.
This year, from now until 1st September, a brilliantly inventive adaptation of Michael Morpurgo’s Aesop’s Fables is performed by five singing, dancing, multi-instrumentalist actors directed by Sally Cookson.
One of the performers, Benji Bowers, has also composed new songs for the show, which takes the audience on a whistle-stop tour of ancient and timeless stories with messages – be careful how you choose your friends, compromise to survive, don’t tell lies or no-one will ever believe you, care for and appreciate what you have, it’s easier to make decisions than to carry them out, steady and careful is better than flashy and quick … all those common-sense things.
Mark Parrett from Bridport has created a wonderful goose from a shopping bag, a pair of rubber gloves, a feather duster and a pair of salad servers, and it lays very convincing golden eggs.
Tom Wainwright is a wonderful teenager charged with watching his mother’s sheep, boredly crying “Wolf!” and inventing energetic games with sheep and hats.
Lucy Tuck’s tortoise has the audience doing slo-mo Mexican waves, and Chris Bianchi’s Sun of Elvis is the god of choice.
The three-year-old next to me was enraptured, squealing with joy and fear and excitement. Grandparents were rounding up children, teenagers ululating to cheer their favourites, and everyone basking in the balmy evening and these familiar stories freshly told.
It’s another triumph for the Old Vic under the leadership of the modest Tom Morris and its new chairman, Dame Elizabeth Forgan, newly arrived in the vibrant arts scene of Bristol from the Arts Council.