HAPPY FUSION OF SKILLS AND STYLES MAKE FOR EXCELLENT ENTERTAINMENT
Adapted and directed by Peter Wilson
from the book by Gavin Bishop
CAPITAL E NATIONAL THEATRE FOR CHILDREN
at Capital E, Wellington
From 8 Mar 2008 to 5 Apr 2008
[50 min, no interval]
Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson, 10 Mar 2008
originally published in The Dominion Post
A lot of top local theatrical talent has been used in the making of Kiwi Moon, Gavin Bishop's picture book for children: Murray Lynch (dramaturgy), Laughton Patrick (musical director), Debz Ruffell (shadow puppets), Apirana Taylor (haka composer), Thomas Press (composer), Sue Hill (puppet design and creation), Marcus McShane (lighting) and John Hodgkins (set design).
Director Peter Wilson has brought all their skills together in a happy fusion of theatrical styles so that the story of an albino kiwi surviving in the bush with the help of an older, bush-wise kiwi, who may or may not be the albino's mum and Marama, the moon, shining serenely in the night sky.
Beautiful and wonderfully colorful shadow puppetry is used to show the bush and the bird life before the arrival of Māori, who are shown arriving in waka, and then the Pakeha settlers building houses and felling the forest. The Land Wars are shown briefly too but to what point I'm not sure except to explain that human life is as dangerous as life in the bush for the kiwi.
The bunraku-styled puppets for the two kiwis, the huhu grubs, a boastful kakapo and a ferocious kuri are expertly handled by the almost invisible James Conway-Law, Will Harris, Joanne Murphy, and Anya Tate-Manning.
There is a lot of humour in the show (the hatching of the kiwi egg and the dance of huhu grubs just two examples) as well as some serious moments such the bush fire and the kuri's attack on the older kiwi. This last scene had the youngest members of the audience suddenly needing their parents' arms around them.
What is so exciting about Kiwi Moon is not only that it is excellent entertainment and as good an introduction to theatre for the young as you'll find in the country but also it is clearly evident that talent and money have been spent on children's theatre.
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