The Adelaide Festival
Adelaide College of the ARTS
Until 15 Mar 2018

Review by Talia Gaertner-Jones

Patch Theatre Company, in association with the Adelaide Festival, have created a vibrant performance with their original production “Can You Hear Colour?” created by Naomi Edwards and Alan John.

Entering the theatre the audience is greeted by a white space. The floor, backdrop and a giant floor to ceiling tree trunk in the corner are all white. In contrast to the white, coloured feathers are dotted all over the stage creating ‘pops’ of interest, while the quiet song of a bird can be heard in the distance. Throughout the performance the space turns from white to blue to red to yellow mixing together colours and sounds as the audience is taken on a beautiful journey following a Girl, Michaela Burger and her gift of hearing colour. Set and Costume Designer, Kathryn Sproul and Lighting Designer Ben Flett have created a delight for the eyes; from how the colours mix, blend, burst and shine across the stage!

From the moment she moves onto the stage Burger has created a delightfully loving character as she picks up the colourful feathers one by one and holds them up to her ear to listen. She sways and grooves all over the stage to the sounds of colour which as yet the audience cannot hear. This is where the magic begins. Holding up a feather, eagerly waiting to share what she can hear with the audience, Burger’s character asks, ‘Can you hear what I hear? Listen’. To which music begins to ring out. Patch Theatre Company specialises in performance pieces for 4 to 8 year olds, and watching the children’s eyes light up when they realised they too were hearing the sounds of the feather was amazing.
Colours and sounds are then captured and bottled by Burger and the continuation of these colourful bottles and sounds are truly magical.

The story does take a turn when the Girl meets a man, ‘The Colour Catcher, played by Alan John. Dressed in grey, muttering under his breath, it is his aim to take away all the colour. It is through the relationship between Burger and John where the audience is able to witness understanding and empathy through communication and a sharing of thoughts and ideas. The Colour Catcher sees the Girl’s individuality in her ways of hearing colour and the Girl learns about The Colour Catcher’s ability to see colour through another sense.

However, it is the relationship between Burger’s Girl and another character, Bird, portrayed by Bethany Hill that is a standout. Bird feathers are all the colours of the rainbow and she is extremely graceful. Hill’s soprano notes and the physicality of her movements as she walks and dances is spellbinding. The musical performance between the two women is a delight to watch and the message of once again listening and understanding each other is carried through as the characters communicate via speech and ‘chirping’ to build their relationship.

‘Can You Hear Colour’ is an enchanting show from beginning to end. The final scene was truly spectacular with colours lighting up the theatre, colours falling from the ceiling and with nature flourishing on stage. Even if you don’t have children you should make time to see this production that is a magical symphony of colour with a meaningful and relevant message.