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BWW Reviews: BUGALUGS BUM THIEF Brings Tim Winton's Humorous Mystery to Life for Youngsters with Energy, Music And Australian Ease.

Tuesday 8th April 2015, Lend Lease Darling Quarter Theatre, Darling Quarter, Sydney

Tim Winton's classic Australian Children's story, BUGALUGS BUM THIEF is retold with enthusiasm, physicality and music, delighting both the preprimary and primary school target audience and adults alike.

Designer Mark Thompson has transformed the modern Black Box space of the Lend Lease Darling Quarter Theatre into an Australian country town street scape with a central wooden shack and outlines of buildings standing behind a trio of graduated timber boxes crossing the stage. The set gives enough to plant the idea of a fishing town, allowing the audience to utilize their imagination to fill in the images as the story unfolds.

Winton's story, adapted by Sandra Eldridge, Eva Di Cesare and Tim McGarry and directed by John Saunders revolves around three schoolboys, Skeeta (Gideon Cordover), Billy (Mark Dessaix) and Mick (Stephen Anderson) and the mystery of the missing bottoms. Utilizing song, dialogue and physical comedy, the boys, each in baggy knee length shorts with pronounced rears, introduce their town, the unusually named Bugalugs which derives its livelihood off lobster fishing, as a prelude to Skeeta waking up to the realization that he was missing his rear.

As Skeeta embarks on his day, greeting his parents and friends he discovers that he is not alone in his predicament as the whole town has developed an issue with keeping their pants up. Dessaix and Anderson take on the other characters with amusing costume additions to represent Billy's sister Mavis and Mick's mother Mrs Miserable and school teacher Mr Wally. Cordover demonstrates some fabulous acrobatics and all three are committed to the physical comedy as they repeatedly slide off seats and fall over as they discover the imbalance the loss of a bum causes. The three performers all appear to be enjoying presenting the work, having fun with the physicality and presenting as fresh and energized throughout without overacting or being cheesy.

The singing is upbeat and clear ensuring the lyrics are understood but is not saccharine as some children's theatre can be, particularly the imported shows. The dialogue is presented in an easy Australian accent, the actors not trying to create juvenile voices to convey their characters, instead drawing on their acting skills, to convince the audience that they were children. The production is refreshing in its respect of its audience's ability to understand what is going on without condescending and talking down to them.

The jokes have been layered to include references that are more geared to the adults to keep them engaged, safely sailing over most of the youngsters understanding whilst still ensuring that the content is still G rated. There is an element of audience participation but it's simple and doesn't restrict its audience appeal as some shows can do when they pitch to pre-primary children and then alienate older audiences that see the activities as too juvenile. In comparison to other children's theatre reviewed recently, the audience participation garnered involvement from all ages bar one adult that was noticed in the intimate space.

Filled with slapstick humor, clever lyrics and lines, BUGALUGS BUM THIEF is a delightful, smart show for kids from 4 years old upwards that will also entertain any grownups that may be accompanying them or adults that grew up reading the book, first published in 1991, that may just feel like reliving their childhood, with or without children in tow.


Lend Lease Darling Quarter Theatre, Darling Quarter, Sydney

7 April - 24 April 2015

Tuesday 7- Friday 10 April and Monday 13 - Friday 17 April 11:00am and 1:00pm

Saturday 11 and 18 April 1:00pm

Tuesday 21 - Friday 24 April 10:30am and 12:30pm

TICKETS: $25pp / $90 Family 4 / $110 Family 5 / $23 Groups 10+

Tues 14 April at 1pm Relaxed Performance $17 (with promo code)

(+ booking fee) or 02 8624 9340

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From This Author Jade Kops