Review: Wilde Creatures, Sydney Opera House

Lynne Lancaster

Based on Oscar Wilde's fairy tales, Wilde Creatures is a wonderful show for the whole family.
Review: Wilde Creatures, Sydney Opera House

The cast of Wilde Creatures. Supplied.

Wilde Creatures is part of the many events that have been scheduled at the Sydney Opera House for the school holidays – but this show is not just for the kids. Brimming with fun, Wilde Creatures is also at times extremely poignant and moving. 

This Tall Stories production (Tall Stories brought us the delightful show The Gruffalo) is interestingly linked with the current season of Oscar Wilde plays that are showing in London. A marvelous cast of four performs this captivating show with great charm and exuberance. Three of Wilde’s fairy tales are used to bring this show to life. The Happy Prince, The Nightingale and the Rose and The Birthday of the Infanta. Utalising music, drama, mime, slapstick and poetry to darkly illustrate the themes of friendship, you or your child won’t need to have prior knowledge of these stories to enjoy the show.  

Once upon a time there was a town that was dark and grey. The North Wind blew coldly through the streets and in the town square the mayor of the town has had the statue of The Happy Prince torn down.

Which of the townsfolk is important enough to be immortalised in stone and raised above everyone else? Now the people have to decide who will be featured in the new statue: should it be the pompous, bombastic, narcissistic mayor? Or the haughty princess? Or could it be the love-sick student?

The wild creatures of the title are a motley quartet of excellent storytelling actor-musicians who vividly breathes life into the stories – we see a rich miller who callously exploits a poor overworked underpaid gardener in The Devoted Friend, in The Nightingale and the Rose, a scholarly student who is extremely well read but has no understanding of love and a self centred, petulant, spoilt brat of a princess in The Birthday of the Infanta.

The cast of Wilde Creatures. Supplied.

The mayor (Tom Jude), is resplendent in a natty flexible pop-up red top hat and reversible red coat. Lauren Silver as the perverse princess has much fun with the huge fan-like rotating bow on her dress.

Olivia Jacobs and Toby Mitchell have wonderfully updated these tales for a contemporary audience, while keeping the many layers of meaning in them. The set design by Barney George nifty uses levels of various wooden packing cases, and a collection of boxes and bric-a-brac to create the town and props used to tell the stories. The catchy musical numbers by Jon Fiber and Andy Shaw using guitar, violin, bass, accordion, clarinet, and the rest of the instruments are great fun and are briskly performed.

Wilde’s poignant tales are full of elegant romanticism and presented to reveal his sharp criticism of society, making you think without pontificating. This is a marvelous show for all ages. 

Rating: 4 ½ stars ★★★★☆
Wilde Creatures 
A Tall Stories Production

7-14 July 2018 
Sydney Opera House 

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

Lynne Lancaster is a Sydney based arts writer who has previously worked for Ticketek, Tickemaster and the Sydney Theatre Company. She has an MA in Theatre from UNSW, and when living in the UK completed the dance criticism course at Sadlers Wells, linked in with Chichester University.