Apples and Ladders
30 September 2006
Tower Theatre, CUB Malthouse
The dark, yet beautiful images of Apples and Ladders stay with you long after the show finishes. Puppeteers and creators Sarah Kriegler and Jacob Williams impart their tiny protégé with pure emotion to create moments that grab your heart.
Supported by a state government “images of aging” grant, Apples and Ladders started as an exploration of aging and alcoholism. The resulting performance is a perfect example of how the investigation of one theme can touch the universal. This show is about the grief of having your heart and passion stolen and the healing power of very small acts. (It also demonstrates that policy and grants don’t necessarily restrict creativity.)
The Knave of Hearts, the archetype devil/death, stalks an elderly man and an aging drag queen. The man loses the love of his life when his wife dies, and retreats to isolation. The drag queen turns to alcohol when forced to face the reality of his life. The scene where he joyously floats with the glittering reflections of the mirror ball, but is forced to see his own reflection is heartbreaking.
The puppets are exquisite and the cardboard set perfectly represents the fragile strength and disposability of the suburban setting. The production is completed with Richard Varbre’s lighting design and haunting melancholy songs from The Tiger Lillies. If you love The Tiger Lillies, be aware that there are no songs about hamsters, sheep or Aunty Mable.
The Tower Program at the Malthouse, along with FULL TILT at the Arts Centre, continues to highlight the astounding theatre that is can be created when independent works are given professional support and development. Apples and Ladders is a perfect addition to the Melbourne Fringe program, where local artists are continuing to explore form and aesthetics.
This review originally appeared on AussieTheatre.com.