Review: The Farmer's Daughter, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre

Victoria Wyatt

From mystical opening ‘til close of curtains, this gentle tale will keep you and your children entranced.
Review: The Farmer's Daughter, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre

Spare Parts Theatre Company's The Farmer's Daughter. Photo supplied.

Based on the necessity to tell a story about what life is like in the country, Spare Parts Theatre Company put together a talented team and sent them four hours east of Perth to the wheatbelt town of Merredin. Here, multiple stories were collated, and The Farmer's Daughter was born, and what a delicate beauty she is.

Far from your average children’s theatre romp, this is a beautifully crafted production that has all the hallmarks of an Aussie classic and will hopefully encourage conversation and questions about the structure and dynamics of country life from youngsters.

A bond between a girl and her grandfather, the ups and downs of daily life on the farm, resilience of humans, the importance of family, and the relationship between the land and people who live upon it are all unhurriedly explored, and the effect is quite breathtaking.

Spare Parts Theatre Company's The Farmer's Daughter. Photo supplied.

This is a story told as much through visuals as by dialogue and narration, and although there would be strong merit in taking all the stories collected from the Merredin community and delving deeper into them, there is a quiet magic about the sparseness of this tale, that still manages to convey volumes, and as fore mentioned, is hopefully enough to incite interest and imagination about rural towns across WA and beyond.

Matt McVeighs set design and Lee Buddle’s soundtrack were the real anchors of the piece for me, creating the mood and scenarios for the actors and puppets to sit comfortably, or uncomfortably within as desired. To see a children’s show being treated with such love, care, thought and respect is a wonderful thing. McVeighs movable platforms were the most successful use of the medium I have seen in a long time, and the way the homestead, landscape and animals were represented were at times oblique, but played strongly to the imagination. I would have liked to have seen more of what there was, as it could have provided more delightful whimsy in the sometimes bleak narrative, but that by no means detracted from the effect of the presentation.

Spare Parts Theatre Company's The Farmer's Daughter. Photo supplied.

Lee Buddles soundtrack is quite simply, movie worthy. Every piece was composed, played and produced to perfection, and provided a sonic landscape that was as pleasing and evocative as the stage visuals. Combined with the simple but clever lighting and sets the play was a sensory delight.

Here more than ever, Spare Parts has delivered a show that adults of all ages as well as children should go and see. It’s not your classic bucket of fun, but it gets the brain ticking and imagination going and what better way to introduce the magic of theatre into people's lives.

Hopefully it will also inspire more schools and community groups to hold beloved barn dances again, and if you do – please be sure to invite me!

Rating: 4 ½ stars ★★★★☆

The Farmer's Daughter

Director: Philip Mitchell
Writer: Ian Sinclair
Designer: Matt McVeigh
Composer: Lee Buddle
Lighting Designer: Graham Walne
Performers: Ruth Battle / Rebecca Bradley / St John Cowcher / Daisy Coyle
Co devisors: Chloe Flockart and Rebecca Bradley
Voice Over: Humphrey Bower

30 June - 20 July 2018
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle

 
What the stars mean?
  • Five stars: Exceptional, unforgettable, a must see
  • Four and a half stars: Excellent, definitely worth seeing
  • Four stars: Accomplished and engrossing but not the best of its kind
  • Three and a half stars: Good, clever, well made, but not brilliant
  • Three stars: Solid, enjoyable, but unremarkable or flawed
  • Two and half stars: Neither good nor bad, just adequate
  • Two stars: Not without its moments, but ultimately unsuccessful
  • One star: Awful, to be avoided
  • Zero stars: Genuinely dreadful, bad on every level

About the author

Victoria has worked across the music/festival/theatre scenes in New York, London and Rome for the last 15 years. She is currently back in her hometown of Perth and can be found writing for Artshub, designing sets and interactive displays for children's/community events and stage/production managing around town.


Victoria has worked across the music/festival/theatre scenes in New York, London and Rome for the last 15 years. She is currently back in her hometown of Perth and can be found writing for Artshub, designing sets and interactive displays for children's/community events and stage/production managing around town.
Victoria has worked across the music/festival/theatre scenes in New York, London and Rome for the last 15 years. She is currently back in her hometown of Perth and can be found writing for Artshub, designing sets and interactive displays for children's/community events and stage/production managing around town.
Victoria has worked across the music/festival/theatre scenes in New York, London and Rome for the last 15 years. She is currently back in her hometown of Perth and can be found writing for Artshub, designing sets and interactive displays for children's/community events and stage/production managing around town.
Victoria has worked across the music/festival/theatre scenes in New York, London and Rome for the last 15 years. She is currently back in her hometown of Perth and can be found writing for Artshub, designing sets and interactive displays for children's/community events and stage/production managing around town.
Victoria has worked across the music/festival/theatre scenes in New York, London and Rome for the last 15 years. She is currently back in her hometown of Perth and can be found writing for Artshub, designing sets and interactive displays for children's/community events and stage/production managing around town.
Victoria has worked across the music/festival/theatre scenes in New York, London and Rome for the last 15 years. She is currently back in her hometown of Perth and can be found writing for Artshub, designing sets and interactive displays for children's/community events and stage/production managing around town.

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