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July 16, 2014 | by  | in Arts Theatre |
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The Road That Wasn’t There [Review]

Firstly, just go and see this show. It’s phenomenal. It’s enchanting and engaging and excellently crafted and I could not recommend it more. The sounds of adults and children gasping and laughing mingles throughout the show, as we are swept into an eerily familiar and yet somehow magically mystifying other world. The Road That Wasn’t There is truly a show for all ages, with beautifully acted characters, a charming and robust set and lighting design (McShane), and wonderful puppet and shadow puppet work.

The interplay between real life actors, puppets (beautifully crafted by Hannah Smith and dressed by Nicola Holter), and shadow play sequences is smooth, flowing, and frankly mind-boggling well done considering that this is an operational cast of only three! The sustained vocal and accent work is vital to this illusion of ease, and Ralph McCubbin Howell must be specially commended in this arena for his work as Constable Good-One and Blanket Man.

The overall aesthetic of the play was utterly charming, and it’s musical pieces and sound design (Upjohn-Beatson). Many of the songs, performed live, highlighted the beautiful voices of the cast and the song-writing skill of McCubbin Howell, adding that extra sparkle to an already endearing piece.

The only glitch in the show was that on opening night some small technical difficulties with the puppets led to a facial panel falling off of a leading puppet in a terrifying jolt leaving a black space where a face should be. I’m not too proud to admit that I initially thought this was a deliberate move to amp up of the terror of the piece even further. The actors smoothly replaced the facial piece and seamlessly kept going, unshaken, which is something I highly commend them for.

Speaking to another patron on this section of the play she said she was ‘more scared than [her] daughter’. Her daughter giggled. This patron also felt that The Road That Wasn’t There was ‘a perfect way to end a day out in Wellington’. I can’t think of a better summary myself, so I shall just re-iterate that this is a beautiful show well worthy of your time and money.


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