28/04/2007 - 30/06/2007
Written and directed by Sarah Delahunty
head-wear crafted by Bronwyn Pattison
backdrop painted by Hayley Ness.
After a successful first season in 2006 with Magic In The Air, which told stories from different countries about magic spells, wishes and fairies, writer and director Sarah Delahunty has chosen friendship as the theme for her latest production.
FRIENDS FOREVER is a fun collection of tales, songs and poems about the importance of friendship – whether with other people, animals . . . or even your Great Aunt Muriel!
Our two young hero’s from the first series, Tom and Charlotte learn that friends come in all shapes and sizes – from mice to hippopotami – but the importance of friendship stays the same. Friends can argue and they can sometimes expect you to do the strangest things, but with a true friend, help is always there when you need it.
Meet friends old and new at this fun filled frolic for the very young.
All tickets: $8
A Theatre and Storytelling Performance for 4 – 8 year olds
Theatre , Family , Children’s ,
Saturdays only - 11am
An entertaining and polished show
Review by Melody Nixon 21st Jun 2007
Children’s theatre works best when it involves the people it is aimed at – the children. Friends Forever, on at Downstage every Saturday until the end of this month, weaves storytelling and strong acting to produce a fun and lively show. It could go further however to utilise its greatest asset – the kidlets in the audience.
The piece is aimed at 4 to 8 year olds, and three homely characters: Great Aunt Muriel (Willow Newey), Tom (Adam Koveskali) and Charlotte (Milo Haigh), form the backbone of the play as they read and act out five children’s stories. Favourites like “Puss in Boots” and “The Lion and the Mouse” are performed alongside the lesser known “The Kuia and the Spider” and “The Elephant and the Hippopotamus”. These fables all work to show us that friends come in many shapes and species – cats, mice and spiders included – and that competition can both help and harm friendship.
This is relevant to Tom and Charlotte who, as competitive siblings, are learning about the rights and wrongs of selfishness and forgiveness. Charlotte has also declared she “hates” her best friend. Here creator/director Sarah Delahunty manages to make the five stories on offer relevant to the characters on stage, thus showing the viewers how to apply the lessons to their own lives.
Willow Newey shines as Great Aunt Muriel, a befittingly grey haired and cardiganed old lady. Caring and non-threatening, Aunt Muriel guides Tom and Charlotte through the morals of the stories. Newey has a charismatic storytelling manner and a convincing range of voices. She also makes a point of engaging the audience with eye contact and facial expression.
Milo Haigh demonstrates much talent as the Spider, Puss in Boots and little Charlotte, with clear confidence and competency in these roles. But at times Haigh appears to be uncomfortable with interacting with the audience. Adam Koveskali is also a confident performer and has an endearing manner, particularly as Tom when he runs about the stage with furiously clenched fists.
All actors could perhaps go a step further in Friends Forever and invite the kiddies to take part in the enactment of their stories. Newey could also invite children to sit on (if that’s still permitted) or with her as she reads. “The Old Man and the Turnip” provides a perfect opportunity for a “little girl” or three to join in on the great turnip-pulling-line. Similarly the more familiar stories offer kids the chance to call out lines or offer predictions of what is about to happen.
All up Friends Forever is an entertaining and polished show. It would be wonderful to see more audience engagement from the three actors, to keep the children focused and excited throughout the 45 minute production.
Originally published in The Lumière Reader.
Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer
Review by John Smythe 28th Apr 2007
Friends Forever is the second show in Sarah Delahunty’s Playstory series at Downstage, in which "favourite stories come alive on stage!" It’s a neat concept: the immediate concerns of today’s children lead to dramatised tellings of stories from far away and nearby, all linked by a theme.
Charlotte (Milo Haigh) has had a falling out with her friend and neighbour Julie and is taking it out on her brother Tom (Adam Koveskali) and her Great Aunt Muriel (Willow Newey). But Great Aunt M, firm but fair, is not about to accept this bratty acting up.
Her strategy is to engage them – and us – with stories of friendship, which morph into playlets acted out by the trio in simple yet inventive ways that align beautifully with how their young audience themselves might make plays. Thus, over 40-odd minutes, we are introduced to – or reminded of – stories old and new.
Puss in Boots tells how a cat befriends a disadvantaged third son and uses devious tactics to win him riches, a castle and a beautiful princess. The Kuia and the Spider models a dysfunctional friendship based on difference, competition and constant bickering.
The fable of The Lion and the Mouse teaches how the big and powerful may well rely on the small and skilled for their very survival. A tale about a frail old man trying to extract his enormous prize turnip from the soil also proves the value of team work, where another mouse makes the crucial difference.
But Charlotte is still at a stand-off with Julie and unwilling to say sorry. So the final story shows how a clever tortoise deals with a bellowing Elephant and Hippopotamus, who each insist they are stronger than the other, by challenging them to a tug of war then hooking them up to each other. Folly is found out, a sense of humour is restored and Charlotte is ready to renew her friendship.
Refreshingly Delahunty does not pussy foot around with the teaching points, making them clearly through Great Aunt Muriel. The trio of actors do a splendid job of being their core characters and slipping in and out of their story characters. Haigh’s physicality is especially effective in playing her animal roles.
Items of head-wear, superbly crafted by Bronwyn Pattison, add great value – as does the Playstory backdrop painted by Hayley Ness. Highly recommended for 4 to 8 year olds, and their friends of course, Friends Forever plays Saturdays only at 11am in the Downstage ‘halfway up’ bar space until 30 June.
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Copyright © in the review belongs to the reviewer