BWW Review: THE LITTLE YELLOW DIGGER at Pumphouse, Takapuna, Auckland
Reviewed by Sharon Hewlett
Nestled amongst a full gala audience, surrounded by pint-sized workmen and even a yellow digger crafted from boxes we eagerly awaited the opening of the show. How would they create diggers on the stage? Whales? Pools for hippopotami to bathe in? So many questions whirling in our heads after reading the beloved children's books written by New Zealanders Betty and Alan Gilderdale.
The simplicity and creativity in the show brought imagination to life and sparked giggles of appreciation from adults and children alike. The slapstick humour, the clever script and even the "magic tricks" as my nephew called them- like the water appearing and disappearing on the stage delighted the gala audience.
Starting the show in Te Reo with a safety briefing with a NZSL interpreter, and the idea behind patrons donating to "Gift a Seat" for children from low decile schools, Make-a-Wish, Kelston Deaf Education Centre and blind and sight-impaired children from BLENNZ to Audio Described performances, shows it is clear that this theatre company wants to include all children and I commend them for this.
The set was simple and effective and alongside the projections and lighting- allowed the children to reimagine the book in the real world.
It was great to see the musician (Christine White aka C Dub) as part of the action from the beginning, weaving seamlessly into the story and jokes, providing accompaniment and singing songs to underscore the action on the stage. What a delight to read that the actor on the stage was, in fact, the composer of the music in this show (and 17 others!) but this is the first time she has played in a show.In addition to C Dub, the three lead actors were impeccable in their comic timing and acting skills. Doug (Tim Raby) was a very likeable and believable worksite manager. His respect for the "operations manual" was highly amusing with the "safety briefing" being a particular highlight. Romy Hooper as Bob Cat (teehee!) has such an expressive face- many of the audience laughing at her command of different characters and emotions. This is the second time we have seen Max Easey on stage in a Tim Bray Theatre Company show- his last role as Timmy the Dog- and again his physical humour is a standout. He was a man of few words/sounds in both roles but carries every role off with aplomb!
Alongside the talented cast, Vicki Slow's costuming allows the audience to witness camels, whales, elephants and other creatures come to life in front of our eyes and with Rachael Walkers set and props it becomes masterful storytelling of a kiwi classic.
Tim Bray's directing is fresh and light-hearted and appeals to both child and adult.
We are already looking forward to the Christmas show!
This is a great gift to your children or grandchildren in the holidays when you are looking for something to do- books, music, laughter and fun!
Tim Bray Theatre Company
The Little Yellow Digger
Until 12th October