Rules of Summer // The Theatre Diary Review
Review by Gregory Ryan
Based on the graphic novel by the celebrated Shaun Tan, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s production of Rules of Summer is an outstanding production that not only utilises the original text but actually enhances it!
I’m a huge fan of Shaun Tan and his work, especially The Rabbits and Rules of Summer. I was rather sceptical about how a theatre company could turn this episodic, visually-driven graphic novel into a theatrical production…however, they have not only succeeded in this task but have creatively excelled and pushed boundaries, while staying true to the original work.
This production is a complete sensory experience that was audibly beautiful, visually majestic and very tactile, especially for those children (and adults) invited up on stage to take part in the action.
With bubbles, rabbit poo, tasty sweet food, confetti, and leaf blowers, this production will leave you tingling as the audience are invited into the world of the two brothers. One of the siblings- presumably older- who most definitely is taller than the other, consistently saves his brother from ruining their day and summer.
As we meet wonderfully weird and eccentric characters along the way, not one of which is human, we learn the lessons of their summer adventures: never eat the last olive at a dinner party; never step on a snail; never be late to a parade…among others. Rules of Summer is a coming of age story that is for all ages; it’s like a classic Disney work that will appeal to all.
The set was extremely malleable and multifaceted as it illustrated urbanised streets, a family home, a carnival parade, a back garden, and much more. The light design was also innovative and incredibly expansive as it crafted many opportunities for positive spaces for the puppetry work. I believe this immersive production is groundbreaking in its interactive, multi-sensory form. It doesn’t compensate the narrative or content of the celebrated text: it infuses innovative theatrical conventions with state-of-the-art puppetry to bring one of the best theatrical productions to ever hit a Perth stage.
Under the guidance of director Philip Mitchell and Assistant Director Rebecca Bradley, Rules of Summer is a tight, polished production that is sure to stand the test of time. I would urge all children, parents, grandparents, theatre goes, and the general population to witness this futuristic production right here on our Western Australian doorstep.
Read the review online.