The Little Jester

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

10/10/2011 - 22/10/2011

Production Details

Here he comes! From Renaissance Italy, Sorrento’s orphan clown with his heavenly gift. Join his adventures with a travelling theatre troupe.  

Filled with live music, Kings and Queens and the wild Commedia dell’Arte.

All tickets are only $8 for adults and children, so the whole family can enjoy the show.

The Little Jester
Fortune Theatre, Mainstage:
10–22 October
11am and 1pm daily (no performances Sunday, 16 October)

ALL TICKETS $8      

Book: 03 447 8323

Hadley Taylor as Yugi,
Rhys Latton as Dr Karkarov Zsarsky,
Nadya Shaw Bennett as Chika

Stephen Kilroy Light Design, Light and Sound Operation
Arran Eley – Sound Design
Puppets – Ake Ake Theatre Company. 
Arran Eley – Stage Manager  
Costume Design – Maryanne Wright Smyth
Set Design-Matt Best
Set Construction –Peter King 

Pure theatrical enchantment

Review by Terry MacTavish 11th Oct 2011

“Dance! Or all will be lost…” 

How very true, and what a pity we have to wait for the school holidays to be reminded of it!  This charming show has been commissioned by the Fortune, using the talents of Ake Ake Theatre Company. It is quality children’s theatre which, with only three actors and a simple set, weaves a magic all its own, combining physical theatre and daring acrobatics with Balkan gypsy music and a folk tale that seems old as the hills. 

Ake Ake principals Rhys and Jessica Latton have been devising strikingly original dance and circus based works for many years, and The Little Jester has the unique blend of sincerity and sophistication we have come to expect from them. 

The set is a colourful little travelling theatre, which opens to reveal shadow puppets that play out the back story in delicate silhouette. The costumes have the gorgeous theatricality any circus demands. 

The story itself is simple and perfect: a child restores magic to a world that has lost sight of what really matters.  Like so many of us jaded adults, Uncle Zsarsky, legendary acrobatic jester of a gypsy carnival troupe, has lost his joy in life. 

When war threatens, eleven-year-old Yugi of Serbia’s Black Mountains is sent to his uncle, who at first is not enthusiastic about this new addition to his travelling circus.  In fact Yugi, who never speaks, is set to cleaning up the performing poodles’ poopies. (It sounds cuter with an East European accent.)

But he is befriended by his cousin, twelve-year-old circus girl Chika, and together they set out to bring back Uncle Zsarsky’s faith in the world. We watch Chika rehearse circus tricks with her uncle, and pass them on to Yugi, who turns out to have his uncle’s gift. Can he become the new ‘Little Jester’? 

Resplendent in yellow satin and purple velvet, Rhys Latton as Zsarsky is fabulous, tossing Chika through polished routines and thrilling all with breathtaking falls and twists on aerial silks suspended above scary crocodiles. Latton is a charismatic performer who leaves Willy Wonka for dead, creating a character that is frighteningly awe-inspiring yet essentially generous and kindly. 

Nadya Shaw Bennett is enchanting as cheeky Chika, performing her acrobatics very competently and creating a believable relationship with her younger cousin. 

Playing mute young refugee Yugi, Hadley Taylor, with his shining, eager face, is cute as a button.  The children in the audience relate to him while the adults coo. 

The Little Jester is pure theatrical enchantment to remind us, whether we live in a world torn by war or threatened by oil spills, or merely one swamped by rugby fans, that “even when everything turns to poopies, we need to keep dancing.”  Ziveli!!* 

*‘Ziveli’ is Serbian for ‘Cheers’! But literally it means ‘Let’s live long!’  Perfect!  


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