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Stage Whispers review: Hachiko

Directed by Phillip Mitchell. Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle, WA. April 8-22, 2017

Hachikō was probably Japan’s most famous dog, This loyal akita, who waited patiently for his deceased owner to return for nearly ten years, is remembered in a statue at Shibuya Station in Japan, where he had kept his vigil. This production is a lovely interpretation of his story.

This show has nods to its Japanese origins in some of the costuming, and in an origami feel to ‘lead’ puppet Hachiko. Lots of natural tones in set and puppets blend with splashes of primary colour, in a thoughtful design by Matt McVeigh.

Actor puppeteers (who were also collaborators), Sean Gustavino and Jessica Harlond Kenny, work beautifully together and create a plethora of diverse and distinctive characters. A very story-driven production, they are competent raconteurs who tell the story with a gentle warmth but clear passion.

 

Supporting the story and puppet design, is very organic sound and lighting by composer Lee Buddle and lighting designer Karen Cook.

This is not a show with bells and whistles, but a relatively simple story, gently paced and quietly told. Though there are moments that are very funny, there is an undertone of sadness, and parents may want to pre-warn their young companions.

Ultimately a story of true friendship and loyalty, with some lovely cross-cultural influences, Hachiko is lovely way to spend an hour or so, these school holidays.

Reviewed by Kimberley Shaw, Stage Whispers, April 8 2017