BILLY AND THE CURSE OF THE FALLING LIMBS
24/02/2016 - 26/02/2016
06/12/2016 - 10/12/2016
A 10-year old girl raised in a Billycan dangling over a small woodfire in the middle of a forest, is on a journey to uplift a curse. Her caregiver is steadily losing all he holds dear, his jewels, his wheels, and now an arm and a leg. But when Billy heads off to save him, is the advice she’s given truly going to help, or was the answer in front of her the entire time?
A fresh Dekkers-Reihana family show, ‘Billy and the Curse of Falling Limbs’ is a devised fairytale told through physical theatre and music.
Performances by Joe Dekkers-Reihana and Mia van Oyen.
Your FAV, 93 Kelburn Pde, Kelburn, Wellington
24-26 Feb 2016
BATS Theatre Propeller Stage
6-10 December 2016
(04) 802 4175
Theatre , Family ,
Innocence, eccentricity and downright villainy delivered with confidence and skill
Review by Tim Stevenson 07th Dec 2016
If dystopian fables with a Green-ish social message appeal to you, you should check out Billy and the Curse of Falling Limbs, on at Bats for a short season.
The Billy of the title is a young girl (Mia Van Oyen) who lives in the forest with her creepy Papa (Joe Dekkers-Reihana). Billy likes to dance and sing and play with her toys. Papa’s all: “Never go near that place! Don’t play with my things! It’s a jungle out there!” He also has enormous distorted hands with fingers like dead branches, and feet to match. Anyway, bad stuff happens and bits of Papa fall off – the Curse of Falling Limbs, also as in the title, has struck.
However, Papa isn’t dead yet, and so Billy heads off looking for what is needed to cure him. She meets a number of dodgy characters on her travels, has lots of quirky adventures and faces various tests which she tackles using a combination of wit, imagination, courage and the odd kung fu move. In the process, she discovers more about the Curse of Falling Limbs, and what’s needed to remove it (possible spoiler alert: greed-head mining practices may well feature).
You might expect a happy ending, but I’m not sure if that’s how Billy would rate it.
As the central character, Mia Van Oyen is on stage for most of the hour-long play and so carries a lot of the story on her young shoulders. Happily for the production, her character is a well-chosen, well-delivered mix of sensitivity, innocence, resourcefulness and humour.
The play sustains a nice contrast between Van Oyen’s cool, purposeful Billy and the eccentricities, shading well into downright villainy, of the other characters. The strong, experienced cast clearly revels in the opportunity to explore the extremes of their fantasy roles. Special credit goes to Elle Wootton’s adroit, sensitive puppetry, and to Alex Greig for his sinister Miner – a portrayal that the late great Alan Rickman might have been proud of.
A lot of thought and work has gone into the look of the play (set design: Joe Dekkers-Reihana), and it shows. The production has a uniformly drab and dreary look, with shades of black and grey dominating. The drabness is accentuated by the generous use of smoke effects. Props and costumes are shabby, tattered, utilitarian. The effect overall is to strongly accentuate the bleakness of Billy’s world.
The production also deserves credit for the inventive, well integrated combination of acting, dance, song, puppetry and visual displays against various backdrops.
The lighting is cleverly designed by Michael Trigg (the interplay of light and smoke is particularly striking), and well-executed on the night.
Whoever was actually on the lights (Trigg? the programme doesn’t specify) gets my late nomination for a 2016 Wellington Theatre Award, for the following piece of quick thinking. About half-way through the play, a small girl, maybe 3 years old, decided that she had had enough, for whatever reason. Her mother led her out, not easy in a dark theatre with steps and knees everywhere. The lighting person saw this and straight away shone a soft spot on the stairs to help mother and child find a way to the exit. All done without spoiling the lighting of the play. Considerate, and slick.
This is a smooth production that delivers its mostly dark material with confidence and skill, thanks to well-thought-out design and a talented and versatile cast and production team. Its reception by the first-night audience at BATS proves its audience appeal: they are quick to get the jokes and applaud loud and long at the finish.
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Appealing for all ages
Review by Ewen Coleman 07th Dec 2016
Having been seen earlier in the year in the Fringe Festival, the fascinating production of Billy and the Curse of Falling Limbs has been refined considerably for its current outing at Bats Theatre.
Originally the show was put together by the Dekkers-Reihana family; writers Carolyn Dekkers, Dahl Dekkers-Reihana and Joe Dekkers-Reihana and directed by Carolyn Dekkers.
All are still involved, but the piece has also been expanded, with more players and visuals, to fit the more appropriate venue of Bats Theatre, making it an even better production than before. [More]
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Magical wee show, shame about the sightlines
Review by Deborah Eve Rea 25th Feb 2016
Young Billy (Mia van Oyen) is being raised by her deteriorating Papa (Joe Dekkers-Reihana) in a desolate world. The day comes when Billy must go on a journey in search of the one thing that can save her Papa’s life. Billy’s journey takes her to places she’s never been and sees her facing off with some less-than-friendly creatures.
Director Carolyn Dekkers has brought together the whole family for this NZ Fringe Production. Granddaughter, Mia, plays the title role; son, Joe, plays all of the supporting roles; daughters Neenah and Dahl Dekkers-Reihana are operating in the box.
Dekkers uses a mixture of puppetry, folk songs and transformation of prop to create Billy’s dystopian, fantasy realm.
As Billy, Mia van Oyen, at just eleven years old, is an artistically sophisticated mix of stoic, fluid, grounded and vulnerable- a balance that would be the envy of any adult professional actor.
Joe Dekkers-Reihana enters all of his roles with a sense of play and makes good use of his haunting charisma. His most successful character being The Fat Man, who doesn’t want to be called The Fat Man anymore, for which he is completely encapsulated in a large, blob-like suit giving him the opportunity to step away from his performance strengths to find new ways to bring the being to life.
Some more work needs to be done on puppetry however as one of Dekkers-Reihana’s characters leaves me wondering whether he is in role as a puppeteer, or, whether he is acting a role who has a little friend to carry around throughout the scene.
Unfortunately, the sightlines, at Victoria University’s 93 Kelburn Parade space, are completely detrimental to the show. The tier of seats and narrow playing space means I am unable to see 60-70% of the show. The most visible part of the stage has been transformed to a backstage area where the actors rest, grab a drink of water and Carolyn Dekkers stands to operate the shadow puppetry and observe her show.
It is a credit to the show however that the audience shifts about desperately to see the action; those in the back row even decide to stand.
Without giving away the ending, I would like to see more pay-off for young Billy. She travels so far with so much bravery to save her Papa but her rewards fall short of her efforts.
Billy and the Curse of Falling Limbs is a magical wee show from a strong company that I would love to see again in a different venue.
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