The Terrific Tale of Tabatha Talmus

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

09/08/2011 - 13/08/2011

Production Details

From the company that left audiences on ‘the edge of there seats’ and ‘hanging off their every word’ in 2009’s Titus Elephant Nation and Sweaty Heart Productions are proud to present the highly anticipated debut of their latest devised work, The Terrific Tale of Tabitha Talmus.

A show for the generation that grew up watching such classics as ‘The Never Ending Story’, ‘Labyrinth’ and ‘Dark Crystal’. The Terrific Tale of Tabitha Talmus is a tale to rouse the imagination and seduce the senses.

Tabatha is getting older. She is getting tired. Things are black and white. The colours of her childhood are duller and fading. On her thirteenth birthday one cataclysmic event plunges her into her own imagination. The world is a blank canvas of endless possibilities, but can Tabatha save it from disappearing all together? 

Elephant Nation in association with Auckland’s new ‘courageous’ and ‘sexy’ contemporary dance company Sweaty Heart Productions bring to life a newly devised work in collaboration between actors, artists, dancers and musicians, in an attempt to explore new realms of interdisciplinary work.

Inspired by original images from Elam graduate Anna Langford and movement directed by Sweaty Heart founder Lydia Zanetti, the show has a strong focus on the creation of great works of art and the inspiration that motivates them.

On for a limited time as part of Elephant Nation double bill at The Basement Theatre. 

The Terrific Tale of Tabatha Talmus
August 9th-13th
The Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland CBD
Bookings: or Ph: 361 1000  

 CAST includes:

Melissa Reeves
Taofia Pelesasa
Courtenay Abbot
Alex Walker 
Phoebe Borthwick 
Chris Neels 

A play around with well known tropes and images creates a cracking story

Review by Stephen Austin 10th Aug 2011

It is Tabatha’s thirteenth birthday. She receives a book as a gift. Reaching for the highest shelf on her bookcase, it falls on top of her and she tumbles into a netherworld of her own imaginings that are at once whimsical and darkly troubled.

Curious characters, dark figures and swashbuckling adventure await her. She must find a way out of this nightmare before it engulfs her and the characters in her mind overtake reality. The one true escape might just lie in the hands of the darkest of souls, right back where it all began.

If I had not been told in the programme notes that this was a devised performance, I would not have guessed it, aside from a couple of semi-improvised moments. The cast, crew and couple of musicians work together tightly to create a vivid, compelling world stepped straight out of Lewis Carroll, T S Eliot or even the adventure almanacs of yesteryear. (Pre-publicity mentions The Dark Crystal, Labyrinth, The Never Ending Story as prime influences, but the whole work is so imbued with a literary overtone that I think they may have sold themselves a little short on that.)

The space of the Basement is used to maximum effect and filled with a curious energy of the fantastical that I have not seen explored quite so effectively in there before. It is inventively lit by three OHProjectors, which also provide scenic device, a sense of movement and even special effects.

Add to this Perlina Lau and Sean Webb’s playful, emotive underscoring which completes the picture and keeps the pace interesting.

Chris Neels supports the cast by giving grounded, well-reasoned, stylish direction and neatly introduces memory triggers through the inclusion of props, colour and dialogue to develop the movement and inner-life of the characters. The focus on the personality and not just the “otherness” of these strange characters at play here is quite refreshing compared to other staged fantasy work I have seen.

Lydia Zanetti and Lydia Bitner-Baird provide demanding effective movement direction and create a physicality for the show that is quite unique. The performers – Melissa Reeves, Taofia Pelesasa, Courtenay Abbot, Alex Walker, Phoebe Borthwick, Chris Neels – all meet these demands with ease and much grace.

Tabatha’s is a tale that should be appealing to an audience that is willing to take that trip down the rabbit hole for a play around with those well known tropes and images. It takes them in directions that feel quite original and literate, while still telling a cracking story. Terrific!   
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