THE (KIWI) GINGERBREAD MAN
Tararua Tramping Club, 4 Moncrieff St, Mt Victoria, Wellington
16/04/2016 - 30/04/2016
A journey of self-discovery … and lots of running!
Grandma and Grandpa bake a Gingerbread Man who runs off into the New Zealand forest to find his true calling in life. He meets a few characters along the way – but are they friend or foe?
With our usual Kiwi twist on traditional fairy stories, songs and audience participation (as well as a few jokes for the adults) The (Kiwi) Gingerbread Man is sure to delight!
Run, run as fast as you can – to see The (Kiwi) Gingerbread Man!
AWESOME ENTERTAINMENT FOR ALL THE FAMILY!
Tararua Tramping Club, 4 Moncrieff St., Mt. Victoria
16 – 30th April
Monday – Friday 11am and 2pm, Saturdays at 11am
NO SHOW ANZAC DAY
Tickets $10, Groups of 10+ $9.00 each, Children under 2 Free
$7 Special Opening Preview, Saturday 16th April
Bookings: phone 04 385 0292 or go to www.kidzstufftheatre.co.nz
Theatre , Family , Children’s ,
Review by John Smythe 17th Apr 2016
The welcoming cast – Maria Williams, Milo Haigh and Michael Trigg – create a relaxed atmosphere as audience (fewer-than-usual for a KidzStuff opening) assembles. But when Trigg gets trigger-happy with a bubble gun and a small girl commits herself to the instant destruction of every briefly floating orb, I fear there will be disruption in the show.
It turns out to be an ingenious way of getting the kids to feel comfortable in the space and – as the show-proper unfolds – they are very protective of his Gingerbread Man when all and sundry want to eat him. (This was not the case, I’m told, at the dress rehearsal where, having baked and eaten their own gingerbread men before they came to the show, the kids from Clyde Quay School were very clear the only reason he existed was to be eaten).
The ‘housekeeping notices’ in rhyming couplets set the tone for playwright Guy Langford’s linguistic fun, developed further when deaf Grandma Glenda (Williams) mis-hears what short-sighted Nanny Ngaire (Haigh) is saying as they prepare to bake something.
Audience participation is at its best when it materially affects the action, as in when Glenda and Ngaire ask for help to find the cookie cutter. But when a boy points to it, he is ignored so we can all play ‘Hot and Cold’ to guide the old ladies to it. A strategy is required here to acknowledge a child’s offer while getting to the ‘Hot and Cold’ game by exploiting the women’s hearing and seeing infirmities.
A rap song covers the baking sequence and our titular hero emerges from the ‘Smug’ oven (at the kitchen servery hatch) only to realise his innate desire to discover his purpose in life is at odds with his creators’ desire to shorten it bite-by-bite. And so he escapes and the extended chase begins – cleverly utilising a ‘mini me’ doll to facilitate some parts of the action.
A song (music composed by Hen Priestley) confirms his existential crisis – was he intelligently designed; who was be born to be? – and the audience is consulted at every stage of his quest to discover his calling in life. While Saturday’s young ones are forthcoming I’m not sure the set-ups are conducive to good pay-offs, not that anyone seems to mind.
As the Gingerbread Man runs, climbs, jumps, sneaks and trusts as fast or as much as he can to avoid Ngaire and Glendas’ clutches, he encounters: Kiri the Kiwi (Haigh) whose inability to fly is a sore point; Pete the Aussie possum (Williams) who sings a plaintive song about being transplanted; a Weta (Haigh) who dreams of Richard Taylor (having given her name to his workshop); and Taika the Tuatara (Williams) whose cunning may or may not explain why her species has survived for millennia.
No costume designer is credited so I have to assume they are sourced from the Costume Cave (who are in the ‘Special Thanks to…’ list) and modified by the cast and director, who also created the set and props. Mostly they are terrific, although a beaver-cum-platypus tail and enormous puffy feet are out of place on the possum. A couple of excellent projected images enhance the set spectacularly.
There’s a nice moment where the kids intuitively help the GB Man to articulate a knock-knock joke, and Taika’s gluten-intolerance sets up a great fart joke. I won’t reveal what our hero’s true calling turns out to be, but of course it brings the tale to a happy conclusion.
Michael Trigg pitches his Gingerbread Man just right to engage the audience in his quest. With equally well-calibrated performances, Milo Haigh and Maria Williams belie the energy and focus required to punctuate their Nanny/Grandma pursuit with their delightfully rendered creature characters.
I do have to note – especially in the context of this specifically Kiwi story – that Trigg proves that a natural Kiwi voice can carry song lyrics with alacrity, which makes the way the others default to American vowels sound all the more odd.
Disguised as a ponga tree, Stage Manager and Technical Operator Anna Bouwmeester completes the performance team.
Director Patrick Davies has presided over a splendidly engaging production that maintains the standard we’ve come to expect from KidzStuff Theatre for Children.
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