Staijen-Leach and Burton truly make the show. They are incredibly generous and entertaining performers who are visibly giving it their all. Dowsed in their own sweat, you know full well how hard they’re working and how much effort they’re exerting. I become much more invested and engaged with their performances because of it; simply exhilarating. Staijen-Leach and Burton feed into each other’s performances, which helps amplify the performance’s energy. An acrobatic routine accompanies the pair when the conversation turns to body parts is one example. The pair swing their bodies to centre stage, where Burton rolls over top of Staijen-Leach who then lifts her in his arms and swings her around his body, and even sits her atop his shoulders. The energy is electric and lively.
Nostalgia! does ‘play’ well, so well in fact I wish there was a lot more of it where the audience could get involved, or where we feel like we could get involved. Getting involved in these memories helps bring out the nostalgia, like when Burton initiates an imaginary wedding between two audience members she invites onto the stage, or when Staijen-Leach gets his audience to pretend we’re ghosts to try and scare Burton. These moments are highlights, but sometimes, it’s not clear if the actors want us involved or not. When Will first enters the playhouse, he wonders if anyone else is in the room, looking across and around the stage. His audience isn’t sure if he wants us involved, and not all audiences will have someone willing to take the first jump into this interactivity.
Much of the design feels fluid and interconnected. I fall in love with the beautiful cardboard-covered floor of Darryl Ng’s set design, sprawled with scribbles and kid’s drawings. Grandma’s wallpaper plasters the wall; drawn on these lengths of wallpaper are touches of home: cookie jars, Victorian-esque portraits, a cuckoo clock, and windows. I heartedly applaud their use of an OHP to show their transitions—it takes me back to primary school! The images used offer little clues as to what memory we’re exploring next; the muscled arm for when Will confides in his friend that he wants to toughen up. Sound design, by contrast, feels arbitrary and separate. Rather than helping to enforce the nostalgia, it almost works against it, making use of music cues and references that feel misplaced from childhood memories.
Colour Me, Nostalgia! is raw and memorable, but messy in places. The central narrative of Will and his friend drives the play through it’s different memories, but it feels like a series of scenic stopovers rather than a smooth drive. Each memory of the show attributes to an exciting rhythm, but each memory could ease more on to the next one. The ending feels like the least crafted segment and its abruptness leaves me unsatisfied. Nostalgia! would benefit from more distillation: finding it’s best parts, like the interactive play with its audience and the crux of each of its memories, and punching them through even harder.
Colour Me, Nostalgia! hits the right points, but I wish it delved a bit deeper into them. It's perfectly charming and excitingly playful. Colour Me, Nostalgia! is a part of Your FAV, and runs until Saturday 4 March—you can book tickets to see the show here or check out their Facebook event here.