A girl with a red head band hugging a man dressed as a piece of paper.
Children, News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

A must-see for all ages

Awesome Festival junior review, Cubbyhouse Co. Ruby’s Wish ·
Studio Underground, State Theatre Centre of WA, 3 October ·
Review by Bethany Stopher, age 12 ·

The brilliant show Ruby’s Wish, written by Holly Austin, Adriano Cappelletta and Jo Turner, is currently playing at the Studio Underground, State Theatre of Western Australia.

Ruby’s Wish is amazing! The set is really flexible; one scene it’s the clown doctor Dot’s home, where she sobs over yet another awkward moment when she has said the wrong thing, and next it’s a hospital, where seven-and-three-quarters year old Ruby and her single dad count her “bravery beads” (beads given to her for each of her operations.) It’s hard to believe it is all the same set up!

Another surprise; Ruby’s a puppet! When she was wheeled on stage on her bed, a little girl in front of me exclaimed in surprise, “It’s a dummy!” But Ruby seemed like a real little girl as performers Adriano Cappelletta (the dad) and Alice Osborne (the narrator) made her actions so convincing! What was really cool is that when Ruby felt extremely unwell, they would bring out a smaller puppet to show her feelings.

One thing that I don’t really understand is that all the kids in the audience were younger than me; older children must have been put off by the 7+ rating, but Ruby’s Wish is exciting, funny and moving, and perfect for teenagers too. You have a puppet, a stressed dad, shadow puppets, a crane that folds out from a bed and a clown doctor who has a recording instrument on her arm that she uses to create crazy noises to make a sick little girl laugh and a dad believe in wishes… how much better can you get? It is also interesting that the actors (who are all wonderful, by the way) explore what is reality and what is fiction.

And last of all, it’s just plain funny. There is a paper friend called Russel (get it?) and the actors insist on redoing their entrances until they are just right, which sends the kids into hysterics (and adults too!). My favourite part has to be when Dot the clown doctor (Holly Austin) sings a song for Ruby about being absolutely starving, complete with wild noises and flashing lights and then promptly makes her way into the audience and “eats” a few unlucky children!

Ruby’s Wish is a must-see for all families who don’t mind the occasional sad or scary scene, (there are a couple). I definitely recommend it, but you’ll have to dash because it finishes at the end of this week. I’m so glad I got to see it, I hope they make a sequel!

Ruby’s Wish plays the Studio Underground until October 8.

Read our “senior” review here.

Pictured top are Holly Austin, as Dot, and Adriano Cappelletta, as Russel.

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An elephant puppet and a girl puppet being operated by a person.
Children, News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

A magical menagerie

Junior review: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, The Night Zoo ·
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, 19 September ·
Review by Isabel Greentree, age 8 ·

The show was called The Night Zoo by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, directed by Michael Barlow. It was about a girl called Jamie who desperately wanted a pet as a friend but she lived in a busy city in a tall apartment block. Her dreams bring her to the zoo where she meets all sorts of friendly animals.

All sorts of friendly animals: Jamie and the orangutan.

There were meerkats, water birds, thorny devil lizards, a giraffe, an emperor penguin, an orangutan and an elephant. At first the animals completely ignore her, but later the animals come back and try to play with her. When they come back, the emperor penguin does some ridiculous dance moves with his flippers to try and wake Jamie up. When Jamie finally wakes up at the park, the animals each give her a ride or they dance with her.

At the start, the performers (Kylie Bywaters and Isaac Diamond) goofed around on the stage and teased each other. The puppets were amazing and funny. The performers moved with the puppets and they made them look so realistic. I loved how the setting always changed and the building could swing around and become a tree. The animations projected at the top of the stage showed the animals going through the trees after they had walked off the stage.

The music was very entertaining and quite loud. It made me feel like dancing with the animals too.

It was hard to choose my favourite part of the play because it was all so good. Some of the best bits were the meerkats fighting over a treat, the water bird showing off, the penguin trying to wake Jamie, the graceful giraffe, the goofy orangutan and the ginormous elephant. In the end, Jamie finds a true friend to stay with her.

This was a spectacular play which all children will enjoy. Go and see it while you can!

The Night Zoo plays Spare Parts Puppet Theatre in Fremantle until October 6.

Pictured top: Jamie (operated by performer Kylie Bywaters) and the ginormous elephant (Isaac Diamond) in “The Night Zoo”. Below: The goofy orangutan.

A dancing gorilla puppet

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woman lunging amongst trees
News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

Stories of land and love

Junior review: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, The Farmer’s Daughter ·
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, 4 July ·
Review by Isabel Greentree, age 8 ·

The show was called The Farmer’s Daughter, by Spare Parts Puppet Theatre. It was about a strong relationship between a girl (Daisy Coyle) and her grandfather (Humphrey Bower). It was also about the settlers who came and farmed in Australia. The girl wants to be a boy because she wants to help her father (St John Cowcher) on the farm but he won’t let her.

The play opens with an Aboriginal woman (Ruth Battle) who is interested in the settlers so she hides and spies on them. Then the settlers build a farm and destroy the land. Along the way we meet several animals. I liked the kangaroo best because the actor (Battle) had amazing bouncy shoes. She was good at keeping her balance. I also liked the sheep because it kept stealing the sacks of money, and as soon as they got the money back the sheep would get another sack.

The grandfather tells the girl a story about the fox and the trees, and the fox wants everything the trees have. When the trees refuse, the fox’s hair falls out in fury and then the fox chops all the trees into wood chips. The girl decides to make a better ending, and the fox eventually becomes a man because his tail drooped and came off.  Also, as the girl wishes for rain, a big lightning bolt strikes the dry paddocks and causes a bushfire, and eventually the farmers beat the fire and it begins to rain.

The set had special lighting so the actors could draw in the dirt and project the pictures on the blind. When the family was hunting the kangaroo, the mother (Rebecca Bradley) used her torch to make the background scenery. The music was exciting and helped you understand what was happening. I liked the music in the storm because it felt like something bad was going to happen just before the lightning strike.

My favourite part of the play was the relationship between the girl and her grandfather and how he told her lots of tales and myths.

This play may not be suitable for kids under five because they might get scared by the gun shot sound effects and the loud music. Kids from about eight will really enjoy this play. I think it was fabulous.

The Farmer’s Daughter plays Spare Parts Puppet Theatre until July 20.

Read the “senior review” by Nina Levy here.

Pictured top is Ruth Battle in ‘The Farmer’s Daughter’.




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