What do you call a dozen entranced babies in a theatre? A miracle. And I’ve just seen it. ‘16 Singers’ is a unique show and it’s going to take some writerly stretching for me to explain why in a way that does it justice. Most kids’ shows go for the tried and tested: bright colours, easy visual gags, everything high and bright. And as any parent (A.K.A. “minder”) knows, there’s a fair amount of work and stress involved in keeping the kids reasonably quiet and “well behaved”.
But this? It’s the theatrical equivalent of that intriguing grown-up who doesn’t pander, who talks to the child like an equal, who knows what they like and can be completely trusted. The one that the child will remember for years: this is that show.
You’ll have to believe me (until you go yourself – and you must, with 3 shows a day this week on Fri, Sat and Sun): for thirty minutes, a dozen tiny people were in musical / dance / sensory heaven. No wails, no moans, very little wandering but twenty-four eyes aglow and twelve brains clearly tingling.
Sixteen adults, of all ages, form a gentle circle around the opened-out floor of the egg. Little ones and parents make an inner circle on cushions. The only prop is a wonderful spider’s web that cat-cradles its way around the gentle musical story woven by the smiling singers. With their voices and dancing, they conjure up (for this viewer, at least) the changing seasons in an English garden: bees, opening flowers, gentle breezes, spring awakenings, growing herbs. The song is quite beautiful: harmonies and quality of voices that wouldn’t be out of place in any heaven; with jazzy bee-bops and chuka-chaas changing the pace at just the right moment to keep the children engaged.
Go, and remember to take a small one: not only will you leave feeling incredibly calm, but if you’re anything like me, it’ll change your preconceptions about how very small children engage with beautiful, sophisticated and subtle movement and music. Don’t miss it – Bath’s lucky to have this.
Thursday 5- Sunday 8 November: 10am, 11.30am & 2pm
£12 admits one baby and one adult; additional adults £7.50; additional children £6.50. Recommended ages 0-18m