Children, News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

Grab your towel for some beachy fun!

Junior Reviews: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, On Our Beach ⋅
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, September 25 ⋅
Reviews by Isabel and Eddy Greentree ⋅

Isabel Greentree (age 9)

Usually when you go to the theatre you expect to sit down and only watch the show. But not with this unique and amazing performance. Get ready to make towel sculptures, have selfies and get buried by a tsunami. Grab your towel and enjoy some beachy fun!

On Our Beach starts by asking each audience member to create an identity card and go through pest control, getting sprayed and scrubbing yourself clean. Take some crazy selfies of beachy scenes, then walk through an undersea tunnel with slimy rock pools and seaweed scents. Set your towels on the soft surface and wait for the performance to begin.

Directed by Philip Mitchell and performed by Tani Walker, Shona Mae and Rebecca Bradley, the show kept the audience entertained for the whole hour. People laughed a lot and kids enjoyed being able to move around the stage during the performance.

The three performers sang, danced and interacted with puppets and the audience, making a series of beach scenes. Cheeky FOMO the dog kept sneaking onto the beach. My favourite part was when the tsunami rolled onto the stage and we slid around in all the balls and threw them at each other.

The lighting was very effective, using disco balls and spotlights to create shimmering patterns on the walls and roof. Glowing beach balls thrown by the actors to the audience kept everyone entertained. The music was energetic and the performers were really good singers.

At the end you get to sit in seats under beach umbrellas and watch the final dance. The show was entertaining and funny, not only because the actors were good but because we could interact with the performance. I wish I could go and see it again!

Eddy Greentree (age 7)

The show was about having fun at the beach.

There were lots of surprises like Fomo the dog sneaking onto the beach and a tsunami that we played in.

My favourite parts were taking the sneaky way onto the stage through the tunnel and getting covered with balls during the tsunami.

The actors were fun and they were really good at moving the sea creature puppets.

If you want to go to the beach and do some surfing then you should go to this show!

Big kids, little kids and grown ups will all enjoy it.

On Our Beach continues until October 12. Read our senior review by Ros Appleby.

Photo: Jessica Wyld

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Children, News, Performing arts, Reviews, Theatre

A surreal beach adventure

Review: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, On Our Beach ⋅
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, October 25 ⋅
Review by Rosalind Appleby ⋅

Imagine taking part in Alice in Wonderland as it unfolds around you, except the environment is more akin to Snugglepot and Cuddlepie. Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s new work On Our Beach uses similar fantastical elements to take the audience on an interactive adventure.

The production has taken three years to create, with director Philip Mitchell drawing on previous Spare Parts collaborators writer Peta Murray (the dramaturg behind the adaptation of Blueback) and designer Cecile Williams (H²O, a puppet play set in a swimming pool).

On arrival we were welcomed by lifeguards who took us through a labyrinth of quarantine, customs (in this surreal world you get to design your own passport), and other sensory experiences culminating in a waiting room. A faint smell of citronella filled the darkened space, and children luxuriated on the velvet mattress floor, relaxing to the gentle strumming of a lifeguard crooning a lullaby. It gradually became apparent that, like Snugglepot and Cuddlepie, we had fallen into the sea. Blue orbs and luminous sea creatures floated above us, exquisitely designed by Leon Hendroff and Michael Griffin and set amidst Chris Donnelly’s shimmering oceanic lighting.

plastic balls pour from above on delighted children
Shimmering light beneath the ocean. Photo Jessica Wyld

The energy began to change as the sun rose (a giant inflatable ball) and the lifeguards drew us into their games. There was a stray dog, the requisite beach BBQ, beach towel sculpture, a tsunami and even some cabaret songs along the way. Lifeguards Tani Walker, Shona Mae and Rebecca Bradley were welcoming, playful lifeguards, their remarkable versatility on display as puppeteers, volleyball players and even cabaret artists. Their rendition of Imagine Your Feet Are Fish was a highlight of Lee Buddle’s score, as the three actors, sang and shimmied their way through ‘the barracuda boogie’ and ‘the swordfish shuffle’, complete with sequined gowns, feather boas and slapstick comedy. If only the microphones had done a better job of picking up the intricacies of the lyric and the harmonies.

What child doesn’t like an ocean ball pit? Photo Jessica Wyld

The entire show was a lot of fun. What child doesn’t like diving around a stage converted into an enormous ocean ball pit? The mix of sensory experiences left a rich imprint – I can still smell those frying onions! But the emotional impact was less significant. Theatre has such potential to enhance empathy and awareness of ‘other’, and this was a missed opportunity to engage audiences more deeply with the fragile relationships between people, animals and our beaches.

On Our Beach continues until October 12. Read a review by our junior critic.

Picture Top: A beach BBQ and games are all part of the fun in On Our Beach. Photo supplied.

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