Review: Pearl takes life in her stride

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Kate Hosking, left, as Pearl and Chrissie Shaw as Gran in “Pearl Verses the World”.

“Pearl Verses the World”

Jigsaw Theatre Company

Courtyard Studio, Canberra Theatre Centre, until June 2.

Reviewed by Simone Penkethman


“PEARL Versus the World”, played to a packed house of primary-aged children and their parents.

Chrissie Shaw plays a frail grandmother drifting in the fog of dementia. Kate Hosking is eight-year-old Pearl, who carries the story as a monologue.

Hosking’s playfully expressive physicality and impeccable voice skills perfectly capture the manner of a child.

Imogen Keen’s set, is a grass floor with a bright metal structure, resembling school monkey bars. In the middle is a plastic bubble where granny moves in slow motion, occasionally breaking into a long-forgotten song.

Pearl’s life could be seen as a difficult one. Her single mother is carer to her grandmother. She never knew her father. She feels that she has no friends at school and that her teacher doesn’t appreciate her talents. But Pearl’s no victim; she takes life in her stride and wins friends with her rhymes that mock the teacher.

Pearl’s world is shaken when her grandmother dies. Through Pearl’s eyes, we see her community close around her and her mother in warmth and support. She remarks that friends she didn’t even know were friends bring cakes, cards and food.

One of the play’s themes revolves around the resilience of children. This was literally reflected in the fact that although there was barely a dry adult eye in the house, the children all seemed fine. Perhaps they had already read the popular children’s story of the same name and knew what to expect.

“Pearl Versus the World” is the kind of quality theatre that makes us proud of our local professional company, Jigsaw.

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