Reviews

Review (at Half Moon Theatre, London)

by childrenstheatrereviews.com

Children's Theatre Reviews

Reviewed by Flossie Waite and Luke Billingham

They’re tricky things, feelings, but perhaps never more so than when you’re young. The Chit Chat Chalk Show is a sensitive, interactive, well-crafted exploration of emotions – how they make up who we are, how we can embrace and regulate them – complete with dance, audience participation, and – of course – chalk drawing.

Photos: Gary Cook

Since Kiko moved, nothing’s felt right – the colour has drained out of her world and there’s only emptiness where emotions should be. Luckily, a group of friends from Kiko’s new neighbourhood are on hand to help: an optimistic chorus, their function is reminiscent of the personified emotions in Pixar’s Inside Out, or the characters in The Beano’s The Numskulls.

The audience are immersed in the action, sitting around the performance space and amongst the set. Everything is created from jigsaw-shaped tiles that slot together – starting with the walls Kiko’s built around herself – so that the set is built up, taken apart, re-made and, excitingly, coloured in before our eyes.

The show takes us through the emotions, and their corresponding colours, one by one, expressing each of them through movement, language and sound: anger is red, it feels like being stuck in the car, and it sounds like lots of children stamping their feet; jealousy is green, its moves are sneaky and snatchy, and it sounds like a scratchy witch’s voice mixed with squelchy, slurpy noises. Where words fail, chalk succeeds: Kiko communicates her feelings by drawing them, scribbling her rage in red and drawing blue rainclouds when she feels sad.

The young audience are invited to get involved in the quest to help Kiko identify and harness her feelings: they draw their favourite things when Kiko is learning about love, and rush to help lift the weight of her sadness. Genuine audience participation is cleverly woven into the show, rather than simply offered as a Stay and Play session at the end, though their enthusiasm means its sometimes difficult to usher everyone back to their seats.

It’s through exploring and expressing a range of emotions that Kiko can feel like herself again, and this is the clear, central message of the play – conveying and communicating feelings is a significant part of healthy relationships and a healthy life. This is made explicit in a direct message to the audience at the end of the show: “If you can’t talk about it, you can always chalk about it!” The success of The Chit Chat Chalk Show, however, is that by this stage in the performance, a verbal conclusion feels unnecessary: the point has already been made powerfully, subtly, and compellingly.

The Chit Chat Chalk Show is currently touring the UK, for more information and tour dates visit chitchatchalkshow.com.

Review (at Z-Arts)

by whatsgoodtodo.com

5 ⭐️ Review!

Reviewed by Julie Lawrence

Finding theatre that is truly family friendly can sometimes be tricky, something that will entertain pre-schoolers all the way up to the grandparents – The Chit Chat Chalk show involves EVERYONE!

We watched this show with a 4 and 6-year-old, their parents and grandparents – we giggled, we watched, we listened and WE DREW!

The Chit Chat Chalk Show takes you on an adventure with Kiko and her new found friends to try and discover Kiko’s emotions. Every child (and parent!) has had that frustrating moment when you don’t know how to express how your feelings. Kiko is struggling to understand the strange new home she’s found herself in. In a collaboration between Hawk Dance Theatre and The Knotted Project, 5 fabulous dancers help each other discover and explore our emotions. Through colour, pictures, dance, music and magical lighting the dancers help you experience the voyage through love, jealousy, sadness, scared, anger and happiness.

The set is relatively simple but hugely adaptable – several huge black interlocking foam mats. These form places to hide, cubes to stand on, footpaths – and most importantly blackboards to draw on. Audiences get a prior warning that clothes may get a little chalky, but it’s also worth noting that this is a performance in the round with the audience sat on the floor, cushions, cubes or a few well-placed chairs. Again, each option of places to sit really works for the variety of ages of the audience – we ended up on the floor with children on laps or curled up around us.

The dancers really interact with the children (and grown-ups) and balance encouraging them to join in if they want or letting them watch from the sides. This was delightful, with two very different socially-interactive children, one was ready in a heartbeat to jump up and join in, while the other felt comfortable to just stay on a lap and enjoy watching others. Grandma and Grandpa were keen to join in when given the chance to Chit-chat and chalk! Watching the children create their own chalk playground at the end of the show was a real highlight.

On the whole I’d recommend it to anyone with 3-8 year old children – but would extend that to extended family too! We loved the chance to watch, whisper and write while the performers chit-chatted and chalked.

Rating: 5/5

The Chit Chat Chalk Show is currently touring the UK, for more information and tour dates visit chitchatchalkshow.com.

Review (at York Theatre Royal)

by Gary Cook

You know you’re about to experience something different when the audience sits on the floor, with the theatre’s seats left empty.

The Chit Chat Chalk Show is everything kids love – performance, jumping around, drawing (with chalk, obvs) and sitting on big colourful cushions.

Most parents wince at the thought of their kids having to sit still for an hour in a theatre. But here they don’t have to. Chit Chat Chalk involves its young audience right from the off, meaning boredom breaks are not even on the menu. I didn’t see one child leave for a toilet break.

They were too engrossed in the energetic dance display of the five performers who bring to life the story of Kiko, the confused young girl who comes to realise that the contrasting mixture of emotions she feels as she engages with the world around her do not make her an outsider – they make her a complete person.

It’s a moral message delivered in a way that even the most cynical whingy kids will take on board. I’m sure most adults will readily accept the emotional refresher course too. It’s like joyous therapy.

This fast-moving interactive show uses music, intricate stage lighting, a clever changing set and, most impressive of all, a beautifully choreographed piece of physical theatre which brings poignancy and pace – not to mention a huge dollop of laughter – to a mesmerising 60-minute performance.