I'll Take You To Mrs Cole!: 'They're both actually very positive parents in my mind'
- Kelly Apter
- 1 August 2019
This article is from 2019
A new show adaptation of the children's book is given a fresh twist set to ska music from two giants of theatre
One mum sets her child to work, encouraging him to do household chores – the other lives in organised chaos letting her children roam free. Two households, two very different approaches to parenthood, as depicted by author Nigel Gray and illustrator Michael Foreman in their 1985 picture book, I'll Take You To Mrs Cole!.
The title is intended as a threat to young boy Ashley, a punishment for being naughty – but by the end of the book, once he discovers what life in the Coles' home is actually like, it becomes a reward for good behaviour.
A study in cultural differences, parenting, life choices and the power of our imagination, the book is ripe for adaptation. Which is why director Catherine Alexander suggested it to Complicité, a theatre company known for its highly visual style and use of music and technology.
'What I love about the book, is I don't think there's a hierarchy in terms of one mum being a better parent than the other,' says Alexander. 'Their styles of parenting are really different, so one instils a sense of responsibility in her child about doing jobs properly, while the other mum lets go of superficial stuff to enable more freedom and play. But they're both actually very positive parents in my mind.'
Mindful that this was their first foray into creating work for primary school-aged children, Complicité joined forces with London-based children's theatre Polka to produce the show.
'Polka has a tremendous amount of expertise with young audiences,' says Alexander. 'So it's been great to have both organisations behind the show – Complicité makes work that's a bit more experimental than Polka would perhaps normally do, and Complicité can be really grounded by Polka's knowledge of work for children.'