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Print Version

By Carl Nixon
Directed by Daniel Pengelly

at Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch
From 16 Jan 2013 to 26 Jan 2013

Reviewed by Lindsay Clark, 21 Jan 2013

Finding new ways to tell old tales is undoubtedly a bit of a challenge, especially when doubling of roles and adapting an existing main bill set have to be considered as part of the concept. The Court's current holiday production is more successful in some aspects of the task than others, but the fledgling audience, if not entranced, were never bored. Predictably they were most vocal in their approval when given the opportunity to join in the adventure as lookouts for that quintesessentially scary creature, the Wolf.

No problems with the talent though. Three energetic pink piggies tumble down the long steep aisles to the stage, mostly on well padded bottoms to start the show. The close proximity of costumed characters delighted all the nippers around me and eases neatly into a dinner time scene onstage. We learn about the defining qualities of the three siblings through their attitudes as they prepare for the meal. This part seems like padding, albeit presented purposefully.

Enter Aunt Petunia, whose brusque authoritarian stance is well appreciated, including as it does the way she deals with a torn library book and that dreaded “What do you have behind your back?” question. She bundles the reluctant piglets out into the world and the real story begins.

The Wolf in this version has an enjoyably dopey sidekick, Cat, and together, rapidly disguised, as Shonky and Shonky Building Materials Inc, they become advisers to each of the house seekers in turn, before Wolf does his spectacular chimney stunt and ends in the cooking pot.

Nigel Kerr's adaptation of the scaffolded set used for Grease, each evening, is a delightful example of what simple hung panels can achieve: easy access for large props such as the houses, multiple entrance points for the quick change roles and a colourful background for the whole event. The houses themselves are clever contraptions of panels which collapse most satisfyingly under Wolf's huffings, amplified by Michael Bell's sound design.

Costume (Emily Thomas) and lighting (Sean Hawkins) are able supports for the three actors, who all work hard to keep things moving. Chris Parker, Brynley Stent and Amy Slater are the piggy trio and give us also a fine wolf, Aunt Petunia and Cat. Mention should also be made of the attentive Mouse, Stage Manager Celia Mann, who deals with debris.

Not exactly magic then, the production is nevertheless competent, colourful and best of all live. The excitement of 'high fiving' characters on their way out was proof if needed, that the intended audience was happily at home in the theatre, a result which is surely to be applauded. 
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