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March 13, 2016 | by  | in Theatre |
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Sail away with the Owl and the Pussycat

It was a night of warm romance at BATS theatre when Whangarei’s Company of Giants, under the direction of Laurel Devenie, presented a whimsical rendition of the classic poem by Edward Lear. As we entered the theatre space and took our seats, we were serenaded by original love songs arranged by musician, Adam Ogle. The actors were dressed in an eclectic hotchpotch of olden time clothing.

Ogle’s abilities on guitar, mandolin, and double bass were the perfect ignition for magic, and the sounds reflected the mood. The detailed set was strewn with suitcases and fairy-lights; a glowing atmosphere of warmth and happiness. It prepared the audience for the participatory nature of the pantomime-esque style of the piece.

The poem was set in Whangarei which made for effective satire, easy comedy, and created familiarity with the New Zealand audience. Devenie produced an incredibly grounded yet fun rendition of a classic child’s tale.It was encouraging to see young children and their grandparent’s being simultaneously engaged by the piece.

The animal characters are performed in a physical, enigmatic, and thoroughly committed. Mataara Stokes as the Pussycat, prowls between the audience and performers, offering a sensuous and thoroughly self-absorbed feline figure. Tomasin Fisher-Johnson’s as the Owl flitted about earnestly, and offered a sweet harmony against the predominantly male voices. Lutz Hamm pulled incredible facial expressions and commanded a strong presence from start to finish as the narrator. Finally, Anthony Crumm as Piggy-Wiggy was bashful in both an endearing and humorous manner.

There is always the temptation to fall into over-explained silliness when dealing with a younger audience; Company of Giants did no such thing. The Owl and the Pussycat was an eloquent yet adorable piece, and it left my heart smiling.

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