Erth and their puppets are back! Having been several times to visit Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo, we were looking forward to the latest incarnation.
Our host Drew- casually interacts with his audience as they settle. The target group, the younger audience, are encouraged to sit on the carpet area at the front before a ‘live’ giant screen that takes us into the prehistoric aquarium world.
Drew disarms and makes new friends. He is brightly coloured and his demeanour of the informal is also linked to his lack of real knowledge. Then as the show begins he is interrupted by Catherine the resident marine biologist to secure the facts. This attempt at layering the information is quite effective.
Then seated amongst us are a small band of under-water adventurers – they call them interns. This clever link and liaison helps the young people yearning for contact with these amazing creatures of the deep with a reassuring interplay. They enter the tank on our behalf. The curtained screen draws back as we journey underwater with them into mystery and a little light magic.
The manufactured voice-overs of young responders to Catherine’s questions keeps the drama filled with science and the narrative humming along. The interns range in age from 4 to about 10. They touch and see what we all want to. and then they lead us further into the deep. We meet monsters and the family of beautiful Plesiosaurs. Puppet controllers stay as most of Erth’s previous incarnations in darkened shadows allowing light corridors to show witness of the movement replicating these once living creatures.
The audience is mesmerised by the puppets. Later in the 50 minute show they come right about our heads tempting us to touch their fins and almost smiling eyes. My daughter reaches out her hand. Their lights and luminosity mysterious and yet enlightening. This is still so much of what exists in the oceans of today. As Catherine alerts us, we know more about the surface of the moon than the bottom of the deep.
So back we go to the dawn of time. Drew our host is also a puppeteer at one point having let into the ‘tank’ predatory creatures that might threaten the interns and their new friends. Some of the young audience are a little overwhelmed. Yet the intention of deflecting some fear with the ever present interns to buffer our experience works well.
There is after all a recommendation for those 5+ to enjoy the experience. Perhaps even learn a thing or two as well.
Under the leadership of Erth’s Head of Design, Steve Howarth, Erth’s team of talented puppet makers have created stunningly life like creatures including Plesiosaurs, Kronosaurs and the lesser known Dickinsonia Rex.
These puppets are brought to life by talented Sydney performers Drew Fairley, Catherine McNamara and skilled puppeteers Sharon Kerr, Michael Cullen and Gabbie Paananen. The show has been three years in the making,
Erth’s highly anticipated new work Prehistoric Aquarium will be presented at Carriageworks (Sydney) these school holidays, running 26 September to 4 October 2015. Tickets are now on sale through Ticketmaster.