|Photo by Steven Siewert|
This is a new Australian work from MAKEbeLIVE Productions. We last saw Holly Austin and Adriano Cappelletta in CuBBYHOuSE a few years ago, which like this show, RUBY'S WISH, was directed, by Jo Turner. Add Kate Sherman, and we have a performance team that tell a story inspired by a little girl in a hospital bed, that demonstrates the importance of play and imagination.
A little girl, Ruby, has a wish, but is stuck in a bed in a hospital, and forlornly can see no likelihood of it ever coming true. Her Dad (Adriano Cappelletta), is a fairly pragmatic non-believer in wishes and has little or no imagination, except in the depression of having to pay bills, and unthinkingly squashes Ruby's desire. Enter Dot, a nurse, who in real life is a wordsmith of inappropriateness, but when adopting the guise of a Dr Audio, equipped with a 'magical' jacket that can create worlds and worlds of sounds and music, so that nothing seems impossible - even for Ruby to achieve her deepest wish: a personal concert from her favourite singer in all the world, Katy Perry.
Ms Austin, Mr Cappelletta and Ms Sherman play a multiple number of characters, from floating clouds, a tooth fairy, mop monsters, and narrators, with the sophisticated assistance from Erth Visual and Physical Inc, with Puppetry of a magical order (Puppetry Director, Alice Osborne); a delightful, always shifting Setting and Costumes (Pip Runciman); the usual extraordinary sensitivity, craftsmanship and gorgeousness of Lighting from Verity Hampson; and a seamless Sound Design by Steve Francis. There is enchanting animation from Tim Watts, who, if you remember, made a sensational mark with his own show: THE ADVENTURES OF ALVIN SPUTNIK: DEEP SEA EXPLORER, too.
But most remarkable of all is the custom made six-loop magic jacket that helps Dr Audio create everything, with a finger press of some 'magic' buttons, from a jazz orchestra sound to beat box sensations, made by multitalented composer, designer and gadget-maker Annie McKinnon. It is marvel of 'magic' and it is this 'tool' that abets Ms Austin to transform into a delicately, delightful sprite of humour and imaginative play, with the magic of live 'treated' vocal noises. In contrast, the dour father figure of Mr Cappelletta's takes a journey which frees him into participating and creating the world for Ruby's wish to come true. Core and deliciously supportive is the wise and clever Ms Sherman, guiding this story forward over many, many, complications of development, adapting herself modestly to every task undertaken.
All the team, led by Mr Turner have created a work of much complexity in its deliverance, and one can see the two-year gestation of planning, discussion, experiment, commissioning and writing and rehearsing, coming to a beautiful fruition in the witnessing of the experience. I can vouch that I spilt a few gentle tears, some guffaws and had a full welling of feeling good and, relatively, an optimism about my world, at least while in the bewitching chamber of play and imagination of MAKEbeLIVE's world, that began depressingly, in what looked like a hospital ward.
The vision, the persistence the patience, the commitment, the love and joy of these artists has developed a simple gift for an audience of all ages and is a significant work to the creation of theatre that can inspire all. It's magic lies in the sheer humanity of the story and the hands-on human participation of all the artists in the storytelling and the open hearted invitation for all of us, the audience, to imagine and play with them.
One hopes it will appear on Sydney stages again, soon. Travel the world! It could use their simple, faithful, hopeful joy.