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Try this remarkable visual feast for kids
The Dreamer himself...
Children's live theatre in the burbs seems to be dominated by a small number of very polished performance teams: Dorothy the Dinosaur, ABC's Playschool and all their offshoots, and Dora the Explorer are popular ones that have regular tours.
For those who don't know (and I didn't before this production), black light puppetry involves (you guessed it) black light to make the set and puppets come alive. The puppeteers dress in black velvet so become invisible, and the set and characters, painted in brilliant fluorescent colours, truly pop in the black light against the black background.
Amazing who you meet on the high seas
It results in a dreamlike visual environment that kids can really immerse themselves in. Combined with a strong soundtrack, the story of the Dreamer's journey to rescue the Leafy Seadragon carries the audience along through lots of adventures. They travel through a variety of underwater locations, and faithfully recreate the kinds of creatures you would find there. The scary deep sea angler fish were wonderfully terrifying, and there's nothing better than hearing the delighted shrieks from the kids in the audience when they appear.
A submarine is essential for exploring the deep sea
You should know, however, that there is no spoken accompaniment, apart from an introduction from one of the puppeteers at the beginning. This does leave the potential for the audience to get a bit lost, and I have to admit I actually was a little confused at points throughout the show. However, if you just let yourself go along for the visual ride, it doesn't really matter.
For example, I didn't initially recognise Dreamer asleep in his bed, but it quickly became apparent who he was when the bright seahorse guide dismantled Dreamer's bed and turned it into a sailing boat.
Brilliant visuals make this show a feast for your eyes
Later on, I didn't understand how we got to the opera-singing prawn and her accordion-playing crab partner in the clam shell, but it didn't matter - they were very entertaining. In other words, you have to be like a kid, and let yourself go with the flow.
There are some very amusing scenes, and the kids in the audience loved them. My daughter still acts them out and laughs, so it really struck a chord with her.
The opera-singing prawn and her accordion-playing crab beau
Even the grandparents enjoyed it, and were full of praise for it. I probably would have enjoyed it more if I hadn't been continually kicked in the shin by the kid next to me who couldn't sit still. Parents, if you take your kids to a show where they need to sit still for 45 minutes, please don't feed them chocolate and caffeine drinks just before the show starts! (Diet Coke for a primary school aged kid? Really?)
We saw Dreamer in the Deep at the Karralyka Theatre in Ringwood. The shows at that venue have finished, but you can still catch the show around Melbourne during April and July, and at the Adelaide Fringe Festival during July. Check the Dreamer in the Deep website for detailed information about dates and locations.
Running time is 45 minutes, which can sometimes be a bit long for young kids, but most were able to manage it. We had a family ticket, which worked out at a very reasonable $10.50 per person, individual tickets were a little more, but it probably varies from venue to venue so check directly with the venue you'd like to attend.