Compelling performances and skilful puppetry work together in The Last Great Hunt’s memorable play about dementia, writes Seesaw’s junior reviewer Saskia Haluszkiewicz.
It’s Dark Outside, The Last Great Hunt ·
Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre WA, 17 March 2022 ·
Junior review by Saskia Haluszkiewicz, aged 12 ·
The Last Great Hunt theatre company’s show It’s Dark Outside is about an old man with dementia who is trying to hang on to his memories is clever, original and very moving.
Creators and performers Arielle Gray, Chris Isaacs and Tim Watts had the great idea of setting the play in the old man’s mind in a world like a wild west cowboy movie, the type he must have watched as a boy.
Arielle Gray acts the role of the old man. During the play we see his memories escaping as little cotton wool clouds like thought bubbles. He chases after them and for a short while catches them and remembers things he once loved, before they fade away forever. He is also being chased by a man who looks like a sinister wild west villain, who we imagine is dementia itself. However, when they finally meet up we discover all is not as it seems.
The title It’s Dark Outside, reminds us that in the old man’s mind the world in his head seems real, but he is losing his grip on reality. From the start of the show, when his mug never seems to stay in one spot, we get an understanding of how confusing the world is starting to look for him. In the beginning his frustration is amusing, but soon it becomes more serious.
Puppetry and shadow play are also used to help tell the story. The clever use of the screen and animation lets us move easily between his fantasy world and reality.
Rachael Dease’s music is powerful and reflects the different moods experienced by the man. Instruments are used for different characters, for example the person chasing the old man is introduced with the twang of a guitar and the old man’s journey is accompanied by angelic voices and a double bass.
The compelling performances and skilful puppetry work together to make this show a very moving experience. One of my favourite moments is the scene where he remembers the little dog he once had. The simple puppet came alive with the expert puppeteers.
This award-winning West Australian play by The Last Great Hunt theatre company is now in its tenth year of performance; it has entertained people around the world and continues to do so.
Even those of us who don’t have dementia can’t remember everything, but I think I will always remember the beauty of the closing moments when the old man leaves us.
It’s Dark Outside continues at the State Theatre Centre of WA until 2 April 2022.
Pictured top: Shadow puppetry helps tell the story in ‘It’s Dark Outside’. Photo: Richard Jefferson
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