22 January 2015

Mini review: Anton and Olaf, a fruity fairytale

Anton and Olaf: a fruity fairytale
La Mama
21 January 2015
La Mama courtyard
to 1 February

La Mama's Midsumma show for kids is Anton and Olaf: a fruity fairytale.

There's no squeezing into the dark theatre, as this puppet adventure made from cardboard and fruit uses  the outside courtyard – all the way down to the street. There are trees, big umbrellas and lots of coloured parasols for shade; cushions, rugs and chairs to sit on; water spray bottles; and frozen treats at the end. 

Chris Molyneux and Zenta Schuber tell the story about two kings and an empress (Jack Beeby, Russ Pirie and Annabel Warmington) who need to decide who's going to rule the kingdom. The cardboard sets and puppets are gorgeous, and the messages that women are powerful and that being nice is better than being mean are always winners. The performers are terrific, but the story needs to tighten up (including less impro for the adults) and have some real stakes.

The ridiculously wonderful children's writer Mem Fox says this about trouble (stakes) in children's books: "The trouble must be trouble on a grand scale. It must be the kind of trouble that works its way into the depths of children’s souls and makes their hearts sink into bleakness and despair. Momentary despair, of course!" The book she is talking about is Where is the Green Sheep, a picture book of 190 words.

Never compromise on story when writing for children; they'll love you all the more for it.

None of which makes thus fruity show any the less fun. Make your grown-ups take you.

Photos by Dorine Blaise

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