Noel Lothian Hall, Adelaide Botanic Garden, Sun 24 Nov, 2019.
From the moment the audience is assembled at the start of the show, it’s clear that Return To The Village is not your typical children’s theatre experience. Writer and Director Marina Barbaro (Peppina vs Mrs Kafoops, 2015) has created a magical wonderland with heart, soul and purpose, in which children co-create the theatre in a guided interactive game, like nothing I’ve ever experienced before. The subtle themes woven through the piece, exploring what it means to live in community with others, inform every moment of the performance, but never detract from the shared game the audience and performers enjoy.
Following a Kaurna Welcome To Country, children and their families are greeted as they arrive at The Village “after a long journey”, by three Storyteller Guides: Barbaro, Helen Lawry and Lizzie Bradley. Families are brought inside to a gently-lit village green. Needs around shelter, food, water, communication, and connection are explored, structures are built, and a flourishing community is created by the children, with support and gentle guidance from the Storytellers.
Everyone in The Village has a role to play: there are thoughtful options for children who’d like to contribute quietly in the background, as well choices for those who want a task that brings them more into the spotlight. Colour, lights, materials and activities have all been designed to be appealing to young players, and the children settled in and ‘owned’ the game they were creating, very quickly. Gentle music and an appealing soundscape, composed by Bradley and sung live over a recorded background, cast a powerful enchantment over the room as the children played; lighting changes were used to great effect to help the children shift focus as the game progressed. An engaging experience for families with children from two to eight, this collaborative, interactive theatre piece will capture your heart and illuminate your soul.
The introductory season of Return To The Village was supported by a City of Adelaide Arts and Cultural Grant.
Watch out for future public seasons of this powerful show, or contact firstname.lastname@example.org to book a performance.
Images courtesy of Jordan Bell