Rules of Summer // The West Australian Review
Review by Annelies Gartner
“Theatregoers were introduced to an array of characters including two marionettes, a beautifully carved bunny, many shadow puppets, a cat that would be at home in a sumo ring, a giant red robot with flailing limbs and a snail that seemed to defy the laws of gravity.”
“Rules are meant to be broken”, so the saying goes. In this production two boys test the unwritten rules of friendship and experience weird and wonderful consequences.
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s adaptation of Shaun Tan’s award- winning book had its world premiere on Friday night after undergoing a five-year creative process.
Communicating via kazoo — which works surprisingly well — performers Rebecca Bradley, Allan Girod and Nick Pages-Oliver captivated the young audience members from the moment they were seated.
Theatregoers were introduced to an array of characters including two marionettes, a beautifully carved bunny, many shadow puppets, a cat that would be at home in a sumo ring, a giant red robot with flailing limbs and a snail that seemed to defy the laws of gravity.
Girod and Pages-Oliver brought the marionettes to life as the two small boys but also interchanged themselves in the roles, beautifully expressing childlike mannerisms and enthusiasm.
Bradley was sometimes an antagonist and at other times a companion to the boys’ coming-of-age journey and the children warmed to her instantly.
The performers took the action around the entire theatre, with children and adults alike encouraged to interact. Although the reactions and laughter of the children were priceless this is not just a show for the youngsters. Two adults who were members of the audience happily stepped on stage and took part in a parade, blowing party horns and bobbing around in time to their leader (Bradley).
When bubbles were blown into the audience and the balls were fired into the crowd there were as many small hands as large reaching out to catch the spheres.
Director Philip Mitchell, along with assistant director Bradley, have been working with writer Ian Sinclair and they have created a show full of humour, featuring something for all ages that best of all makes the arts accessible to everyone.
Designer Leon Hendroff’s stage, with screens for shadow puppetry and a clothesline — for the rule “never leave a red sock on the clothesline” — create a stark beginning. But the red and blue- clad boys and the puppets popping with colour soon transform the show into a visual feast.
A perfect way for the whole family to enjoy a school holiday outing.
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