‘Moominpappa at Sea’ reviewed by Gordon the Optom

by April 2, 2015

‘Moominpappa at Sea’ is a puppet show for young children, adapted from Finnish author Tove Jansson’s book, by co-creators Michael Barlow and Noriko Nishimoto. The show was produced by special arrangement with Agency North.

Artist and illustrator, Tove died in 2004 aged almost 87, having won the prestigious Hans Christian Andersen prize in 1966 for her children’s writing. The 15 million books she has sold were in 44 different languages.

The 40-minute performances can be seen at The Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, 1 Short Street, opposite the railway station in Fremantle.

This special holiday season runs until 18th April, with performances Monday – Saturday at 10.00 am and 1.00 pm. Excludes Sundays and Public Holidays.

 

In the centre of the stage is a metre-high island created with beige canvas. On the top is a lighthouse. At the rear of the stage is a circular flat with a flight of gulls flying across.

 

       The adventurous Moomins, a family of hippo-looking trolls and a troublesome little girl, Little My, have decided to set off across the sea, looking for a better life. They set off into the sunset in their boat, eventually landing on the shore of a small rocky island (designer Leon Hendroff) that was the home of a large lighthouse (props Ben Gates).

      The family searched the island for the lighthouse keeper without any success, so they decide to set up their own home – with a beautiful garden for the mother.

      No sooner had they started to settle in than a ghostly figure – The Groke – appears.

 

This charming play was originally presented by Bec Bradley a few years ago, here it has been revitalised by director Michael Barlow and his creative consultant Noriko Nishimoto. There is however a delightful song sung by Bec in Lee Buddle’s most inventive and atmosphere-filled soundscape.

Production Manager, Elliot Chambers, sat at the side of the stage in front of the wings, operating the lighting console; he certainly multi-tasked, as along with his lighting design, he has several small cameo appearances in the story.

The puppets were actually soft, stuffed, fabric toys made by Annie Robinson. Even though they were manually moved around by the solo performer (Michael Barlow) they had the most delightful expression and the children were captivated immediately by them. Talented Michael told the story, with many voices and a great deal of humour, as the engrossed little faces stared on in amazement.

The audience of 5 – 9 year olds sat in silence, totally mesmerised by the ‘puppetry’ and effects of this light-hearted, easy to follow storyline.

The children of all ages enjoyed this charismatic show.