Monkey Baa in Association with Siren Theatre Co.
Theatre Royal , Hobart 5-7 August
Earl Arts Centre, Launceston 10-12 August
by Kylie Elizabeth Eastley
An intimate audience both young and old gathered at the Theatre Royal to experience FOX, a theatrical work adapted from a picture book by Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks. It’s the story of an injured magpie that is rescued by a one-eyed dog, the friendship that transpires and the ‘three’s a crowd’ interloping Fox, who manipulates the situation for his own gain.There was so much about this performance that was effective. The cast of Jane Phegan (Magpie), Jay Gallagher (Fox), David Buckley (Dog) and Sarah Jones (Soprano) portrayed their characters well, and the costumes and stage elements suited the narrative perfectly.
Combining puppetry (Ingrid Maganov’s wonderful creations brought so much to the show), opera, dance and new media, the cast worked together beautifully. The highlight for me was the choreographed interaction play between Dog and Magpie. The interplay between them was interesting, clever and believable; we were drawn into their world. Movement and chemistry between the performers Phegan and Buckley had a depth to it which was at times lacking amongst the combined ensemble. Fox was adequately realised through his fantastic costume and makeup, and his promenading fitted the character well.
Sarah Jones played the ghostly narrator Soprano throughout the entire show, interacting with the characters, providing the storyline (some a little difficult to understand) and the haunting score. This mostly suited the work, but at times was a distraction from the narrative being played out through the action of the cast and the accompanying visual elements.
Simple but clever devices such as the use of parachute material to replicate Magpie's wings and Dog's tail, and the essence of the animals portrayed through Maganov’s puppets really nailed it. There were seriously breathtaking moments. The accompanying piano and the hand-drawn images projected on a screen at the rear of the stage added to the performance.
The latest of Monkey Baa’s offerings for young people, FOX’s beautiful imagery, clever design and endearing characters make it attractive to all ages.
FOX travels to Launceston before continuing a national tour. For more details go to http://www.monkeybaa.com.au/