Three girls. Three pathways. One destination.
I have to be upfront and say that this very beautiful show made us feel sad. An underlying sense of longing throughout the work conveyed a kind of unspoken sadness that resonated deeply with our senior ed and lead the car conversation on the way home to sadder places still.
This is not a bad thing. Feeling sadness is not something so much encouraged in children. Praise for cheerfulness and play is usually the way. It opened the way for discussion and sparked questioning of an unexpected emotional response. And the role of an artist or artwork in responding to the world.
Playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer says he is committed to making strong and respectful theatre work for children and with this show presented by the fabulous Barking Gecko Theatre Company he does does just that.
The play takes its cues from Fairytale and fable because as director Noel Jordon says “Their themes explore the issues of real life and do not shy away from the darker aspects of the human condition as well as celebrating its joys”. This Girl Laughs is an unashamed rendering of big world provocations such as belonging, abandonment, journeying, and striving for truth. Realised passionately by the performers, it feels like they are writing and creating in each minute it unravels supported by a tightly choreographed energetic arc.
The death of their mother sets a line of landings in motion that sees each of the plays triplets follow a different path. I loved each of the different theatrical responses, that each character was so richly textured and not fallen in one direction, and that each storyline was completely swept up in its own undoing. The complexity and passion with which each of the interweaving narratives were told made it believable that the paths were so challenging. I really DID believe that Albienne (Ella Hetherington) could stop an army of thousands and that Carmen (Sarah Nelson) could speak to a forest of creatures and that Beatrix(Jo Morris) left her mansion of plenty to finally follow the road home. I LOVED the lack of stereotyping of the women as they grew, and that my 9 year old boy did not even seem to NOTICE they were girls. Or mention that it was a show more for girls. It spoke to him, and I was moved by his response and quiet thinking.
Highlights were a lighthouse falling into the ocean to submarine Beatrix through years of tea and imagining, great battles won and lost by armies of kitchen utensils and catapulting flour bombs, rich costumes and and a playable stage that invited us immediately into the action
In the end (after 20years) the girls and their searching father arrive once more at home and we are left wondering just where they will all adventure next… and even where we ourselves might travel…
Presented in partnership with Q Theatre and Casula Powerhouse (where we have been BIG this week at the WOW festival), the play is definitely worth seeing – professional, challenging and laugh out loud funny too. Despite our particular reading, there was much laughter and and animated buzz that filled the auditorium, and yes there was much hilarity from our Senior ed when the badger kicked and farted his way through the forest and into the familial home. Indeed.
A night at the theatre is SUCH a brilliant experience to share side by side with a child. It is probably my favourite place in all the world. Our tickets were collected from the opening night invite table where “An envelope with my name on it IN PUBLIC!” wowed our BIG ed. It’s the little things.