Review: Spellbinding, living story book

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THIS is a piece of live art as much as it is theatre. It can be experienced like a living story book with a somewhat surreal and slightly disturbing plot leading to an inevitable happy ending.

It is also a sophisticated and humorous cross-cultural story of Greek Australia. The performance can be enjoyed by all ages – it’s a puppet show for everyone.

The ingredients in this richly-layered meeting of forms are all of the highest quality. Intricate marionettes, story and direction are by renowned artist, Joy McDonald.

David Pereira’s music is spellbinding. Energetic, stylish and sensitive performances by puppeteers Ruth Pieloor and James Scott are graceful in movement and voice. Two of Canberra’s finest and most imaginative designers and makers, Imogen Keen and Hilary Talbot provide the playful and evocative lighting and set design.

The story is based on McDonald’s family’s migration to Canberra from a Greek island called Castellorizo, also known as “the rock”. Australia’s isolation and the tyranny of distance faced by families who migrate from other continents is a theme that resonates with many of us.

“The (Very) Sad Fish Lady” uses the sea, the moon, dolphins, fish, and a man with a boat to connect the fish lady with her family in Australia. In so doing, it evokes a sense of universal human experience.

“The (Very) Sad Fish Lady”

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