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By Erica• 20 Apr 2016
It’s the school holidays which means a city-full of frazzled parents are looking for something fun, engaging and non-weather dependant to do. Arise, Capital E- our knight in shining armour!
I’m a primary school teacher, so I’ve seen my fair share of Capital E productions over the years, but I’ve never seen a production quite like ‘Shu’s Song’. Created by Laura Gaudin, Rachel Callinan and Gina Moss, it is unique in its content and excitingly different in its approach.
The main point of difference being that not a word is muttered throughout the 50-minute show. It is entirely and expertly mimed and acted by three actors-come-puppeteers and an array of everyday items, which, in turn, become the life and party of the play.
Shu is the main mysterious character. He spends the show exploring the secret life of everyday items. He brings them to life in a way you never thought possible and he conducts a ‘symphony of colours, sound, music and fun in this visual feast for the eyes and ears.’
It takes a familiar and recognisable setting and constantly plays with it. Set in a seemingly normal room, everyday items come to life with the help of the performers, the thoughtful lighting design and the superb sound effects. A cushion. A book. A stapler. A hole punch. From start to end, it is a bit of a love letter to stationery (excuse the pun!). And mark my words, you will never look at a desk lamp in the same way again.
The three actors/puppeteers mimic the natural curiosity of children. What the actors are doing up on stage is what every cause-and-effect, knowledge-hungry kid would do if they were up there. They are thoughtful, precise performers and they draw the audience in and help them to connect. The costumes may appear bizarre but all becomes clear within the first few minutes of the show (grin-inducing stuff) and their energy is just incredible. Whatever those actors had for breakfast, I’d like some, please.
My fellow 4-year old companions thoroughly enjoyed the burping wardrobe drawer and were on the edge of their seats waiting to see what might pop out next. Their ‘hand-over-the-mouth-in-shock’ moment came when the stormy wind carried one of the main ‘characters’ away and the myriad of questions fired at me showed me that they were engaged and that some pretty big-picture wonderings were happening inside those little heads. Even my adult-sized companion and I shared that our brains had been similarly full of bizarre questions and ponderings.
Questions. You will get asked a lot of questions. Before the show starts and when it finishes. But mostly (in a hissy, attempt-to-whisper-in-your-ear voice) during the show. My favourite question came at the finale, at which point, after all the mischief and shenanigans had occured, quite a mess has been made. A very concerned little face turned to me in the dark and said, ‘But who’s going to tidy all of this up?’ My work here is done, I thought.
There’s no cheesey dialogue, no ‘he’s behind you!’ moments, no words at all infact. But the lack of words is no barrier to the free expression, communication and co-operation that happens.
And the best thing is no one bats an eyelid when your kid plays with the flippy-flappy chairs or “whispers” thousands of questions mid-performance, because we all get it. All hail Capital E: fuelling creativity in little people and throwing a lifeline to frazzled parents every school holiday, without fail.
Shu’s Song is playing at the Hannah Playhouse from Monday 18th April- Saturday 30 April at 10am. You can book online at the Capital E website, or call 04 913 3740.
(It then leaves to tour the country, but pops back to Wellington for the October school holidays- yippee!)