My early career was in teaching, writing, producing and directing for theatre, comedy and impro shows. Now I'm a professional creative person. Mostly high-end branding, strategy, writing, editing and digital content creation.
Update May 8th 2015
Correction: The musical composer mentioned in the third paragraph is John Babbage, not Jason. Apologies to John!
Stop everything else right now and go and book your tickets for Argus at QTC's Billie Brown Studio. It doesn't matter if you're young, old, you hate theatre, you don't 'get' art, or you don't speak English. You will enjoy Argus. Language, age and life experience are no barrier. Seriously. Book your tickets now. You don't have much time - the show only runs until the 17th of May!
I don't want to start any fights in the comments, but you would have to be dead inside to not enjoy this delightful show. So it's okay; I'll wait while you go and book tickets. Then come back and read my review of opening night.
Argus, produced by Dead Puppets Society, features four adroit puppeteers, Nathan Booth, Laura Hague, Matthew Seery, and Anna Straker working alongside Topology a group of four equally talented musicians including the show's musical composer John Babbage.
The tale begins with the big bang, which is breathtakingly executed by the puppeteers and Jason Glenwright's lovely lighting design. The story quickly skips through evolution of species. We see all manner life forms and terrain represented in one of the cleverest devices I've seen employed on stage (I won't spoil that surprise for you). Creatures form and evolve, emote and have adventures. The human race discovers fire and the industrial revolution screeches around the planet. That's when adorable aliens arrive and try to make themselves a joyful home on earth. When humans come along and one of the aliens is separated from his group, the adventure really begins.
This is a story you can enjoy on your own level. If you want a bit of fun entertainment, and you don't want to think because you're all thought out after a hard day at work, Argus delivers. If you want a show to enjoy with the whole family, from granny to the kids, see Argus. If you want a tale that evokes intellectual post show discussions on waste and recycling, inhumanity, our treatment of refugees, humanity's lost connection to nature, love, yearning and whether it's people who make a home or it is location, Argus gives you all of that too.
Of the show's inspiration, puppeteer Anna Straker says, "David (Morton, Designer) had a vision from the very beginning. Argus came from Greek myths of the Iliad and Homer's Odyssey… where somebody loses something and they go on a journey and they find it again."
It's the sort of show that will amaze you with its humour and genius, the brilliant timing of the choreography, the focus of the puppeteers, the imagination of the set and props and the wonderfully evocative music.
The puppeteers use simple objects, emotional noises and their own hands to create characters, but never are you left wondering what it is you're witnessing. These appear to be living, feeling creatures you're rooting for as they strive to achieve happiness.
I was particularly enamoured with the underwater scene. It was stunning how the puppeteers and the work of Director and Designer David Morton and Creative Producer Nicholas Paine brought the aquatic world to life in a completely gorgeous and celebratory manner without delving too deeply into overly saccharin territory.
The show is so tight, with dozens of prop changes and complex choreography, and the performers are constantly in each other's personal space, I figured it must have taken eons to rehearse, but Anna told me they only had two and a half weeks to get up to speed. I asked her whether it felt a little odd working in such close proximity to the other puppeteers.
"It's really good actually," Anna confessed, "As a puppeteer you want to be able to feel the person next to you and have that kinaesthetic response."
A crowd begins to gather for opening night of Argus
As an audience member on opening night, it was wonderful to hear and feel the rest of the crowd's response to the show. I overheard school aged children barracking for a character to succeed, a woman nearby sighed and said, "That's beautiful". People laughed, gasped, and some even cried, but all were enraptured from start to finish. Tickets start at $15 for children under 15, youth (under 30), seniors and concession card holders get a discount, and adult tickets go for $35.