theater simple @ The Odeon Theatre
1:00pm, Tue 9 Mar 2010
One of my most cherished Fringe memories was of spending (quite possibly way too much) time hanging around the theater simple clan when they were ensconced in a small North Adelaide cottage back in 2006. They were, as a group, going through a creative crunch, assembling Myth Understandings for the YEP program. I managed to sneak a look at the resulting show back then, and marvelled at the way Monique and Andrew managed to weave a spell around the young audience.
So I was more than happy to actually pay to see this performance, and to see how it had evolved in the four years since.
Myth Understandings sees two scientists testing their personal thinking machine, the “iHed”, which has the power to contain all the stories and myths that mankind has ever created. From there, they explore a number of myths and tales, culminating in a positive message of consideration and understanding.
As always, theater simple’s production is a delight – their frugal staging still invokes a sense of magic and wonder, and the physical nature – and subtle visual complexity – of Andrew’s Jack and the Beanstalk storytelling was superb, as was his seemingly plentiful cross-gender work. Monique is likewise brilliant as the straighter-edge of the two, with her face lighting up with wonder as the piece progresses; the tight lighting cues make the most of their staging. And the closing story of The King’s Child (collated from both written and oratory sources) was just beautiful.
After the performance, there was a brief Q&A session; when I saw this show in 2006, it was dominated by 8-year-old questions like “Is that a time-machine?”. This time, though, the few children were curiously reluctant; Edwin filled the silence and asked about the target audience. Andrew replied that it was aimed at kindergarten-to-Year-5, but with the added intention of not having the older audience “checking their watches”. And they’ve certainly succeeded in that regard; a lot of the dialogue seems quite mature, barely pandering to the younger audience at all, and the song in the middle was fantastic (and I think that including the word “scatological” indicates the respect shown to the audience… or is just silly good fun).
I found Myth Understandings to be ridiculously entertaining. Despite being labelled “kid-friendly”, there was never a dull moment, and it rarely devolved into anything approaching twee. Again, we see theater simple respecting the audience; and that is always a wonderful thing.