Binge Fringe Magazine

REVIEW: I Dream in Colour, Jasmin Thien, Bloomsbury Festival 2023 ★★★★★

I Dream in Colour poster featuring a black side and a face dappled in light

If I had to describe I Dream in Colour in one word it would be spectacular. From the moment you walk in Jasmin Thien commands the stage with incredible effervescence, filling the room with an infectious energy. Straight off the bat Thien works the crowd and builds an impeccable level of trust with the audience. We learn about her prosthetic eyes, she asks all the sighted people in the audience to raise their hands and jokes ‘I can’t see it anyway’. I loved how comfortable Thien looked on stage as if she were destined to be there her whole life, this natural charisma only resulted in the roaring success of her show. 

I Dream in Colour is an incredibly mesmerising feat of storytelling, I could not tear my eyes away from the stage, even to jot a note about a certain line or movement. The initial captivity never wore off and I felt as if I was clinging on to every single word spoken by Thien. Her story was deeply personal, emotive and heartbreaking at times yet infused with a resilient humour. Thien was almost daring the audience to pity her, refuting that her ‘disability’ takes away from her selfhood, her womanhood and her love whilst still showing us how it makes her who she is today.

We follow her story from three strands, first in a hospital waiting room where Thien waits to get her second eye removed, or enucleated (as I learnt today). From the beginning of her story (literally the procreation), her upbringing was influenced by her 3rd generation Chinese immigrant parents who were prepared to do anything to ‘help’ her avoid blindness. To her attending freshers week at university where she hoped to get laid. Relatable. From there Thien weaves us a tale creating a rich tapestry showing the life of a disabled Chinese woman. At each point the intersections of her life cross and highlight new ways to understanding Thien’s story.

One example of this is her powerful poem about feminism, MeToo, desire and being disabled. Thien rightly points out the erasure of disabled women from conversations about sexual assault despite the fact that disabled women are three times more likely to be victims to it. At the same time Thien also shows how disabled women are considered undesirable highlighting the insidious irony which polices her body and self. Thien’s weaving of these facts within her performance worked immensely well. Whilst these are statistics everyone should hear her delivery of them were in no way obviously placed, as if she were standing in a soapbox, and that is down to the emotions behind her performance. The effect was stunning on the audience and I felt privileged to be listening to her story. 

I need to make a note of the incredible production of the show, I Dream in Colour relied heavily on voiceovers to supplement other characters and more. The sound design by Ian Rattray was incredible, it felt well rehearsed and it was effortlessly slick. The direction of the performance by Max Percy was perfect, it felt natural and honestly genuine. The whole production from Louisa Sanfey and Exant theatre felt like a well-oiled machine and complemented the rawness of the performance. I also must add kudos for making the show incredibly accessible, with space for wheelchairs, captioning, guide dogs allowed (!) and of course, Thien describing what she wore and looked like. I have to say this was one of the most diverse audiences I have ever seen and truly it was a testament to the wonderful story, and the work done to make the piece accessible. 

At the end, Thien notes the show is in its infancy and that honestly surprised me. I can not wait to see the heights I dream in colour reaches. It has cemented itself as a must-watch for me. 

Recommended Drink: Because part of the story took place at freshers it reminded me of throwing up blue VKs after my first freshers event, so look back at your youth and down a Blue VK alongside this wonderful show 

Performances of I Dream in Colour have now concluded at Bloomsbury Festival but keep up with Jasmin Thien to see what she does next.

Aditi Mohan

Our Race, Ethnicity & Culture Editor & London Editor. Obsessed with the Postcolonial world. Aditi likes to look at how theatre and comedy reflects today’s world of multiplicity. She’s keen to watch any kind of theatre or performance but comedy is her go to, because if you don’t laugh you’ll cry.

Festivals: Paris Fringe (2020), VAULT Festival (2023), Bloomsbury Festival (2023)
Pronouns: She/Her