Jane Waddel and her creative team delivered a sensitive, heart-warming, and animated adaption of The ACB with Honora Lee, a 2012 novel by New Zealand’s adored author Kate De Goldi. The narrative follows granddaughter Perry’s blossoming relationship with her rather forgetful grandmother. Through the eyes of Perry, a nine year old girl, the audience gains insight into the colourful naivety and curious wisdom she possesses.
The show begins with petite Perry sprawled on the ground scribbling a picture of a bumblebee. Lauren Gibson (Perry) captures the essence of the nine year old girl extremely well. She is thoughtful, energetic, and eccentric; with bubbling mannerisms and ideas. Similarly, Ginette McDonald as grandmother Honora Lee, gave a strong, truthful performance. Stroppy and stubborn, or bossy and boisterous, her unconventional Granny qualities and passion for the alphabet made her character all the more charismatic. It takes acting skill and talent to embody the characters in such lights.
The transitions between scene, gave colour and humor. They were lively and buoyant; punctuated by the sound (John McKay) of felt-tip pens sketching on a pad with AV projections (Blackburn and Longstaff) of live drawings. Overheard between the scenes was the voice of young Perry humming or imitating an onomatopoeic sound, such as buzzing like a bee or spewing, the way children do.
Shelia Horton’s costume design was simple and effective; a visual representation of the changing seasons. The shift from summer garments to winter scarves and jackets was seamless.
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The play epitomized a very New Zealand-esque, non-confrontational attitude towards serious issues such as death and grieving, dementia and growing old. Perry’s character embodied a fresh, ingenuous outlook on this ingrained cultural attitude. Particularly in the Santa Lucia rest home scenes, where the sadness and heartache of the characters were layered with humour.