"The magical world of Patricia Wrightson’s much-loved novel comes to life on stage in a stunning visual feast, featuring ERTH’s large scale puppets, live actors, and digital animation.
The story follows Simon, a boy orphaned and relocated to his distant cousins’ bush farm, where he soon meets the indigenous creatures of the land: the trickster Potkoorok, the mischievous Turongs, the cave-dwelling Nyols and the Nargun, a terrifying stone creature.
Combining visual spectacle with Wrightson’s warmth, humour and richly drawn characters, this is a story of not only adventure and discovery, but also of respect for the land, Indigenous culture and its folklore. The adaptation is informed by ERTH’s on-going consultation with the original story owners, the Gunai/Kurnai, Monaro and Boon Wurrung communities of East Gippsland."
The performance we went to last night was the first preview of the show. At the beginning someone came out on stage and explained that it was in fact the very first time they'd done a complete run-through with all the lighting and effects and so on, and that there might be some things that didn't work quite right. He explained that there were 3 actors, 5 puppeteers and about 100 people backstage and he introduced the musicians and lighting people. It was kind of cool, gave the kids a bit of a feel for the mechanics of putting together what they were about to see on stage.
As far as being a first run-through everything seemed to go pretty smoothly though I'm sure there were a few things they'll tweak to tighten it up. The puppets were great, they looked fabulous and the puppeteers did a lovely job conveying character and emotion with them. The set design was quite clever with transitions from one location to another happening quickly and clearly.
I don't remember much about the book from my reading it way back in my primary school days (I do remember loving it though - I still have my pet rock named Nargun) so when the kids kept asking me questions about the story I had to say I couldn't remember, just wait and see. Tom was a bit scared at one point and wanted to swap seats to sit next to me, Daddy clearly not being up to the task of protecting him. Afterwards as we walked back to the car Tom (and the other 2, but mostly Tom) talked non-stop about the characters, why they did certain things, how they felt about events in the story and about each other, what would happen to them now after the story's end. I was so pleased by how engaged the kids were and just loved how the play provoked such deep thinking from Tom.