Tuesday, July 1, 2008


Review This!
A writing meme for journalistic reviews

This week - a Live Show

Gondwana – the landmass in which Australia was part of in prehistoric times, is also the title given to an innovative dinosaur presentation involving full body and traditional puppets. The performance had been modified for the young audience, as it formed one of the showpieces introducing “The Under 8s Week” in Brisbane. The average age of the matinee audience (not counting parents) I attended, was around five years. House Lighting was kept subtle to allow younger members to feel comfortable. The personable director introduced the show and asked for sound demonstrations to pre warn the audience about the louder or scarier noises they were to encounter as part of the show. One of the inquisitive dinosaur stars -manipulated by a puppeteer in full body garb interacted with the audience as explanations on the magic of the stage was demystified so as not to alarm or confuse the children.

The initial sequence narrated by Signorny Weaver explored the natural forces that have shaped Australia with bulbous air and puppeteer filled sacks, moving and grinding as tectonic plates might have in super speed motion. This imagery was completely lost on my 3 and 5 year old who asked later about the potato dinosaurs. However the interaction from a hungry raptor sniffing up and down the aisles had the audience both delighted and frightened by the realism. Baby dinosaurs were prayed on by larger dinosaurs and the gut ripping and fight scene between two life size dinosaurs , although graphic, surprisingly did not upset the children. This grim scene was lifted by the visitation of a giant dragonfly, which flew over and settled on the heads and hands of many delighted audience members. With such realism it was difficult to believe that there were an army of puppeteers manipulating the figures on stage. A visit from the last dinosaur – so large that only its head and long neck would fit on stage, reached out over the audience and peered down on mesmerized audience members.

As a finale, the director introduced one of the full body dinosaurs back to the stage. A comedic, empathetic scene ensued with him feeding her and inviting a lucky child to the stage to pat her.

Gonwana is one of Erth Visual and Physical Incs dinosaur shows, currently traveling around Australia and New Zealand. Youtube has several excerpts from their shows which will give you a better insight and appreciation of the realism.