I'll Take You to Mrs Cole! (4 stars)

This article is from 2019

I'll Take You to Mrs Cole!

Ali Wright

Imaginative tale of two-tone music and single parenting

Ashley's fed-up tidying the house, she wants to play her new records and dance instead. Even better, she wants to dress up as Princess Leia and act out her favourite Star Wars fantasy. But mum's on her case again, looking for help to keep the house spick and span.

Meanwhile, up the road, Mrs Cole lives in a jumbled mess of a house – and if Ashley's not good, mum will send her there as a punishment. Based on Nigel Gray and Michael Foreman's picture book, but re-imagined by acclaimed theatre companies Complicité and Polka, I'll Take You to Mrs Cole! is a visual and musical delight for the ears and eyes.

Set in Coventry in 1981, the home of two-tone music and an era of racial tension on the streets, the show blends Gray's original story with historical references. So while Ashley is the focus, the world she's growing up in is woven throughout her story and songs (much of which will be lost on the children watching, but it's fuel for conversations with their grown-ups later).

As you would expect from Complicité, the theatre space is as much a part of the show as the actors. Images of what's going on inside Ashley's head are interspersed with archive footage, and projected onto everything from the wall to the fridge, while each challenge Ashley faces is met with a two-tone tune that has the audience bopping in their seats.

At its core, however, this is a show about acceptance, which is played out beautifully. Ashley's house is run on tidiness and discipline, Mrs Coles' is organised chaos – neither one is better than the other, they're just different approaches to life.

Pleasance Courtyard, until 26 Aug (not 12), 1.45pm, £11–£12 (£10–£11) .

I'll Take You to Mrs Cole!

  • 4 stars

A Complicité and Polka Theatre Co-Production It's 1981 and ska music pulses. Young Ashley creates havoc by getting lost in a wild, imaginative world while Mum longs to return home to Barbados. When Jedi battles and forest adventures go too far, will Mum resort to the scariest threat of all? Accompanied by an original…