Terrapin Puppet Theatre ,
The Theatre Royal , Hobart.
Terrapin's new show Love is an amazingly multi-layered piece of visual theatre. It could even be one of those rare shows that burn brightly forever in the memorys of the young children who are lucky enough to see it, for there is much here that is memorable.
Packed full to bursting with wacky larger-than-life-characters, stories and imagery, Love weaves between moments of scintillating live action, transformative physical and digital animation, and concise puppetry.
Beginning in the kitchen of puppet-narrator Oslo and his wacky, community-minded, storytelling Mum, the strikingly simple retro, domestic set expands and transforms before our eyes; from city-scape to countryside, from small town to graveyard and more.
As a big storm approaches and young Oslo attempts to gather and save the important ‘Love Luggage’ of his neighbours in the tight-knit community of Mellingong, we soon learn that their stories and memories, rather than their ‘stuff’ is most important.
The dextrous Mel King and Jeff Michael embody, enact, puppeteer, sing and dance their way through this heart-warming tale at a cracking pace with much joy and laughter, filling the stage to overflowing with the stories.
This is supplemented by superb digital animation which for the most, cleverly illuminates rather than dominates the many other elements, to create some of the most magical moments of the show.
The music and songs of Matthew Fargher are lively,and delightful, from atmospheric banjo and violin to brass band, and community choir. Mel King’s love song to the river goddess is a notable beauty.
At times there were far too many words and characters to keep up with- and I did wonder why the Oslo character needed to be a puppet at all when most of the time he just talked.
But when all those words dropped away and the domestic transformed into the dream-like star-lit night sky or the towering city or the ocean set with Oslo’s fathers fishing-boat as a light-box, sailing over the waves of the puppeteers body, it was truly and utterly breathtaking.
The penultimate scene – the coming of the rain, as silver droplets increased in intensity as projected animation consuming the entire set and stage – was without a doubt one of those burn-brightly moments.
And with Oscar and his Mother huddled crying with relief and love, back safe together under the kitchen table,the emotional story ended there for me.
So I tried to ignore the rather overstated epilogue that followed, preferring to continue to bathe in the warmth of that luscious memory.