Kids/Reviews/Multi-arts/Perth Festival

Light takes on a life of its own

17 February 2022

This genre-bending Perth Festival show casts light itself as the star, creating an experience that leaves Rosalind Appleby and junior reviewers Chloe and Jackson Davis completely elated.

Patch’s Lighthouse, Patch Theatre ·
Octagon Theatre, University of WA, 16 February 2022 ·

We are 10 minutes into the show and my 11 year old has run out of superlatives.

“I admit I am truly in awe of this,” he confesses to whoever is listening.

We had arrived at the Octagon Theatre not really knowing what to expect from Patch Theatre, a South Australian-based company who use science, light and imagination to create theatrical experiences.

What we encounter in Patch’s Lighthouse, by director Geoff Cobham, is a mix of art installation, Scitech display and poetic storytelling that holds us for 60 minutes in wondering delight. How is it possible for light to look 3D, to draw on the floor, or move with such precision?

The performers (Daisy Sanders, Ella Hetherington, Clara Grant, Jacob Lehrer and Manjula Radha Krishnan) beckon us through a series of rooms and tunnels, each one more stunning than the last. Our guide is the Lighthouse Keeper and along the way we meet a fellow explorer in a kind of space suit who wonders with us at laser light depictions of the solar system beamed on the floor, drawn by a star queen (our name for her) who is decorated in tiny bud lights.

My nine-year-old daughter is entranced by another tall character in an enormous (bubble wrap?) robe who kindly distributes glowing balls to each member of our little group. The various other “gadgets” we receive along the way help us interact with the lights, and there is a spirit of playful curiosity among adults and children alike.

The lights seem to play with a group in ‘Patch’s Lighthouse’. Photo: Matt Byrne

There are powerful columns of laser lights, sharp pricks of refracted light, shimmering soft glow, light big enough to swim in and small enough to hold in your hand. We find ourselves leaping from spot to spot, running in dancelike patterns and simply sitting in awe.

A soundtrack by Jason Sweeney establishes a mood for each room: percussive beats, trance-like drones and, my favourite, live cello performed by the star queen (Clara Grant) hovering in the dark above us. Her loops of gentle chords and aching melodies float over us, just like the bubbles which also appear, glimmering in the half-light.

It is exquisitely crafted theatre, drawing on a large team of creatives who move subtly around us activating the set and quietly blowing our minds.

It dawns on me (pardon the pun) that light itself is the central character of the show, gradually revealed as an entity with tangible power, changing moods and playful cheekiness. Someone who can hold you and whom we can hold in our hands. A character who provokes response and affects our behaviour as we spend time together.

Has Patch Theatre taken us into a new dimension? We emerge into the sunlight a little dazed and completely elated.

Junior review by Chloe Davis (age 6) and Jackson Davis (age 11) ·

Light refracts around the room in ‘Patch’s Lighthouse’. Photo Mark Gambino

Awesome! Fantastic! Illuminating!

Patch’s lighthouse is an absolutely stunning interactive experience featuring glowing lights, rainbow balls and many other things.

We didn’t know what to expect as we followed the lady outside and into a darkened room, but we found ourselves in a room with mirrors and lights. A spaceman came to life after we had finished exploring things in the room, and he led us on to our next adventure.

I was impressed by just the scale of things, there were at least five massive rooms each with their own cool twist using light and sound in some way. Different people were directing us to different places, we got to pick up things and take light with us.

Our favourite bits (and we don’t want to give any spoilers) were the light writing on the floor, it was amazing and fascinating to watch. Chloe also enjoyed dancing with the lights and listening to the music played towards the end.

We would definitely recommend going to see this spectacular light bending experience, you could even say we were enlightened. We wanted to go back and do it again straight away. You even get a special light to take home!

Patch’s Lighthouse continues until 20 February 2022

Pictured top: The light show stirs a sense of wonder in young and old alike. Photo by Matt Byrne

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Author —
Rosalind Appleby

Rosalind is an arts journalist, author and speaker. She was co-managing editor and founding board member of Seesaw Magazine 2018 – 2023, is author of Women of Note, and has written for The West Australian, The Guardian, The Australian, Limelight magazine and Opera magazine (UK). She loves park percussion instruments.

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