Theatre / Reviews

Review: Igloo, Bristol Old Vic coopers’ loft

By martin booth, Tuesday Dec 18, 2018

While A Christmas Carol plays in the main auditorium and Chloe and the Colour Catcher is downstairs in the Weston Studio, right at the very top of the Bristol Old Vic in the historic coopers’ loft is a delightful show for the very youngest theatregoers.

Before the Old Vic’s dramatic restoration – which has recently been shortlisted for Theatre Building of the Year at The Stage Awards 2019 – you had to walk across the roof to get into coopers’ loft.

With dozens of children aged from zero to three heading to Igloo, there is fortunately a lift to whisk them up to the theatre’s fourth floor – a journey which for two mums, one dad, three children and an Old Vic member of staff on Thursday afternoon was given an extra frisson of excitement by the lift breaking down and the group having to be rescued.

It was a bonus piece of Mayfest-style immersive theatre before the main event, which transformed the coopers’ loft into a sensory playground, with the show directed by Heidi Vaughan being performed by Megan Brooks and Madeline Shann; with Alex Vann’s splendid score bringing to mind the music of his band Three Cane Whale.

This co-production between Bristol Old Vic and the Barton Hill-based Travelling Light Theatre was developed with the help of babies and toddlers, and their faces were a joy to behold as they were kept enraptured by the colourful scenes unfolding before them.

If there is a story, it is one of friendship, discovery and adventure, with the pair of actors on stage falling out and then making up again, playing, imagining, and getting cosy with a selection of knitwear.

With no dialogue, Brooks and Shann skillfully hold their young audience’s attention with their wonderful facial expressions. Igloo is performed in the round and the two make sure their backs are not turned on anyone for long.

A simple set from designer Edwina Bridgeman sees cushions scattered about that become a tottering tower and then are shared among the children, before the magic of Christmas creates a scarf long enough to encircle the entire room.

Igloo is a festive treat for the youngest theatregoers that will also warm the heart of their grown-ups.

Igloo is at Bristol Old Vic’s coopers’ loft until January 6 2019. For tickets and more information, visit

Read more:

Review: Chloe and the Colour Catcher, Weston Studio (Bristol Old Vic)

Review: Beasty Baby: Spielman Theatre (Tobacco Factory)

Review: A Christmas Carol, Bristol Old Vic

Review: The Borrowers, Tobacco Factory Theatres

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