A Collection Of Nonsense – The Owl and the Pussycat & Other Oddities

Victoria Theatre (The Vic), 93 Victoria Rd, Devonport, Auckland

19/07/2011 - 29/07/2011

Production Details

Outbox Theatre present a school holiday musical for kids, parents, and grandparents. Edward Lear is a wise old man negotiating his way into old age by letting his inner child run free. This brand new adaptation of classic works by Edward Lear is written and produced by Steve Morrison and brilliantly set to the music of Edmund McWilliams (aka Ed Cake of Bressa Creting Cake), Geoff Maddox (Goldenhorse) and Geva Downey. Children of all ages will be rocking out to the nonsense lyrics of The Owl and the Pussycat, the Jumblies, the Alphabet, and Calico Pie.

The play presents us with an aging Edward Lear (Mark Mitchinson) who must find his book of rhymes and together with the help of his granddaughter (Anjula Prakash) keep his poems alive for modern boys and girls. Director Elena Stejko and the cast led by veteran actor Mark Mitchinson explore themes of aging, youth, and the relationship between humanity and the infinite – but in a light-hearted, whimsical, colourful way. Lear the grandfather passes on his love of stories to his granddaughter, as his words and characters come to life singing and dancing.

We hope to inspire enjoyment in words, and nonsense. Grandparents will enjoy the relationship between the generations, and the infectious songs will have kids humming. Featuring beloved characters Owl, Pussycat, Pig, Turkey & The Jumblies and played by a super cast of emerging talent. 

Morrison comments, “Life only really started making sense to me after I discovered Nonsense. The Lear poetry came first, then the Goon show, then Spike Milligan & Monty Python. Today its Terry Gilliam movies and Tim Burton that carry on this rich vein of humour. Poking fun at life in a surreal way and learning to expect the unexpected.”

Outbox Theatre Company will perform A COLLECTION OF NONSENSE-THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT & OTHER ODDITIES, adapted by Morrison & McWilliams as the school holiday musical for kids and a crucial part of their inaugural season in the recently restored historic Victoria Theatre, in Devonport. Our season will look to build a theatre going audience around the Devonport community, and help build Devonport into a thriving cultural hub.

A COLLECTION OF NONSENSE- THE OWL AND THE PUSSYCAT & OTHER ODDITIES opens at The Victoria on July 19 th for a season before touring selected Auckland schools. 
Dates: 19 July – 29 July 2011
Times: Monday – Friday 10.30am and 12pm
BOOKINGS through Outboxtheatre or Iconic Cinemas: Phone: (09) 446 0100   

Big on talent and artistry – treat yourselves

Review by Nik Smythe 19th Jul 2011

Outbox Theatre Company has turned on a magical show for children, adults and nostalgic geriatrics alike. From its quiet, sleepy beginning to the majestically extravagant closing number, the whole shebang jam-packed with song, dance and above all, nonsense! After all, as the man himself says: “A world without nonsense makes no sense at all!”

Steve Morrison’s script (workshopped by the company for two weeks), interweaves a simple story of an elderly Lear, sharing his a number of the absurdist word-play classics he was known for with his excitable granddaughter. 

Elena Stejko directs a dynamic cast, rightly described in the press release as “a super cast of emerging talent”, set to a catchy, eclectic original soundtrack from Ed McWilliams, Geva Downey and Geoff Maddox, performed live by McWilliams. 

Mark Mitchison’s warmly lovable Lear (b. 1812, d.1888) is an old-fashioned granddad lamenting his although his work went on to entertained generations for a century and a half, the children of today are forgetting it. 

Anjula Prakash plays his granddaughter, with frankly incredible energy and enthusiasm as well as consummate skill. 

Grandfather proceeds to eagerly share all manner of poems and limericks with her but she only really cares about that one, his biggest smash-hit ever and so – like an elderly Victorian Ray Davies frustrated at being forced to play ‘You Really Got Me’ yet again – the main event ensues with all manner of splendour and pageantry.

Of course, it’s only a three-verse poem isn’t it, so there’s time for a fair few tangents and a bit of post-modern deconstruction all along the way. The whole madcap madness builds up, with plenty of solicited help from the crowd, to a terrifically choreographed nonsensical crescendo of character, song and dance. 

The supporting cast have brought their best game to the stage for the holidays, notably everyone: Gina Timberlake’s svelte and sassy Pussycat, Jillian McDonald’s pensive Owl, Brendan Lovell’s dimwitted ninja-Piggy and Becky Kueck’s ostentatious diva of a Turkey. 

They are all accompanied with gusto by the talented chorus of Tamara Markovic, Erin Wallace, Emma Thorburn, Jessica Astorga-Ralph and Candace Williams, plus a guest appearance by heartbreakingly cute extra-small Jumblie, Sophia Soboleva-Orlova.

Playwright Steve Morrison is also responsible for the splendid set design, marrying classic imagery with Dr Seuss-esque oddity, and making maximum use of the charming Old Vic’s possibilities. It’s hard in some instances – Cherie Moore’s black velvet singing table for example – to determine where the set design ends and Sara Taylor’s brilliant, similarly flamboyant costume design begins. 

Big as the show is on talent and artistry, they are evidently low on publicity as the auditorium was barely a sixth full. Anyone who makes a holiday habit of attending Tim Bray’s excellent children’s plays at the Pumphouse would do well to make a bonus effort to get over to Devonport and treat themselves to this outstanding debut kids show from Outbox. As would anybody else. 
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