A delightful interactive and immersive experience that explores our connection to each other and the land we live on.
Singer-songwriter Tani Walker in On Our Beach. Image: Jessica Wyld.
The last Saturday in September is reserved for most Aussies to fixate on a leather ball getting thrown about in the heart of Melbourne, but on the other side of country, Spare Parts Puppet Theatre was showcasing the world premiere of their new show, On Our Beach, to a thronging crowd of kidlets and parents whose focus was very much on different enormous rubber balls and other waterfront accoutrements.
On Our Beach is a hands on, shoes off, interactive presentation that is delightfully fun for young and old alike.
If you’re a grandparent that likes to muck in with the kids, or the cool auntie who takes tiddlywinks to things they wouldn’t normally see, this is for you. Actually, even if you don’t want to get fully involved, you’ll be okay, as writer Peta Murray and the designers have catered for anyone and everyone, so comfort levels can be either thrown to the wind, or safely remain intact, and one will have a merry time either way.
In the show, the audience is taken on a journey through the world of a fantastical beach to discover what it is that unites us and brings us together. On Our Beach uses puppetry, interactivity and immersion to explore ideas of identity, belonging, and our connection to others and to the land we all live on, through the simple act of an audience being asked to work together.
‘On Our Beach is about navigating relationships in a world that is sometimes fair and sometimes not,’ Murray says. ‘Through games and activities, the production explores the fear that all of us experience at some point of missing out, being left out, or simply, just not being “in”.’
Designed by Cecile Williams with gorgeous music by Lee Buddle, On Our Beach showcases the performing talents of Rebecca Bradley, Shona Mae, and singer-songwriter, Tani Walker. Spare Parts staple Leon Hendroff and Michael Griffin designed some impressive puppets, and the whole theatre complex was used exceptionally cleverly – it was all simple, but clever – often the best pairing!
The action starts immediately, with the whole theatre foyer and backstage corridors transformed into a beachy wonderland, full of instagrammable family moments. There’s little cohesive story, rather a series of activities and events to be watched or to partake in, which is a refreshing way to ‘watch’ a show, especially with a crowd notorious for fidgeting and short attention spans.
The show has been adapted and modified over a short development period, and this being the world premiere season no doubt it will undergo even more, but the idea and simple structure of this show is nothing but delightful as is and I hope as many families as possible get to experience it over the holidays in its debut season.
3.5 stars out of 5 ★★★☆
On Our Beach
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre
Writer: Peta Murray
Director: Philip Mitchell
Assistant Director: Rebecca Bradley
Designer & Maker: Cecile Williams
Composer: Lee Buddle
Puppet Maker & Set Construction: Leon Hendroff and Michael Griffin
Lighting Designer & Maker: Chris Donnelly
Stage Manager & Maker: Jackson Harrison
Performers: Rebecca Bradley, Shona Mae, and Tani Walker
28 September-12 October 2019
Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle WA
Tickets from $23