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A Winning Mix of Fun and Fear

Publication: The Post
Author: Pier Leach

5th October 2015

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s adaptation of Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks’s children’s book, Fox, to stage is visually inventive and entrancing– and as much fun as it is fearsome.

It blends dance, puppetry and digital projection to bring the story of Magpie (Jessica Lewis), Dog (Imanuel Dado) and the cunning Fox (Rachel Arianne Ogle) to mesmerising life.

It starts with a bushfire – a wonderfully animated scene in which Ogle is Fire, dancing with vibrant orange fabric that licks across the stage. During the fire, Magpie’s wing is burnt. She’s terrified and hurt, but Dog helps her. Dog is blind in one eye, and Magpie will never fly again, but as a team they can run together. He is her wings and she is his eye.

Their fun together is gorgeously choreographed by co-creator Jacob Lehrer in which Dado is particularly funny as itchy, scratchy, always optimistic Dog. Then one day they meet Fox, glowering with beauty and danger. He is a strikingly imagined puppet (by Leon Hendroff), a papier-mâché head with silky flame-coloured fabric flowing from a curved rod, fluidly manipulated by Ogle. Magpie intuitively mistrusts him: “He belongs nowhere,” she says. Dog, so warm and welcoming, tells her not to worry.

Co-creators Noriko Nishimoto and Michael Barlow, who also directs, bring together all elements of production – including Kyle Morrison’s voiceover narration and a propulsive score by Lee Buddle – into a taut, fluid 45-minute show.

A fable about friendship, loyalty and falling prey to temptation, it’s an atmospheric and slightly darker addition to Spare Parts’ superb catalogue of children’s productions.