Review / Not a dry eye in the house

“Storm Boy” A Sydney Theatre Company and Barking Gecko Theatre Company Co-Production Canberra Theatre until June 6 Reviewed by Simone Penkethman

STC_StormBoy_May12_2015_BP_0333THIS adaption of Colin Thiele’s iconic, powerful and magical story, “Storm Boy”, is a perfect use of the medium of theatre; all the elements of design, movement, dialogue, lighting and sound, work together to economically invoke the timeless narrative and theme. 

It’s a universal coming-of-age story that’s also uniquely Australian. Central to Storm Boy’s journey are three pelicans which appear as lively, expressive puppets that are both comical and beautiful.

Set, costume and puppet designer Michael Scott-Mitchell’s centrepiece is a wooden structure that is the landscape and the humpy in which Storm Boy and his father live. Depending on your own experience it resembles the hulk of a boat, the skeleton of a whale, a sand dune or a wave.

Puppeteers and dancers, Anthony Mayor and Phil Dean Walford at times seem like moving parts of the set.  Their movement, stillness and stylistic grace are expressions of the land and of the emotions of the characters.

Tom Hollaway’s adaption of the novel for stage is as economical and effective as the design.  The balance between dialogue and movement ensures that the story moves quickly without ever seeming to rush.

Actors, Kai Lewins as Storm boy; Jimi Bani as Fingerbone Bill; and Julian Garner as Hideaway Tom all inhabit their characters with great authenticity. No word or gesture is wasted. The spell of theatre is strong and (needless to say) there was not a dry eye in the house.

 

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