Thursday, 16 September 2004

Second Childhood, MTC/Hothouse, Sept 16, 2004

 Second Childhood
adapted by Glenn Perry from Morris Gleitzman  
Melbourne Theatre Company with Hothouse Theatre
Alexander Theatre , Monash University, 16 - 24 September
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Sept 16, 2004

Second Childhood, adapted from Morris Gleitzman by Glenn Perry, has already run a successful season in Albury at HotHouse Theatre.

As a play, it resembles the effective and ubiquitous Theatre in Education shows of the 1980s.

Mark Smalley (Justin Lehmann) arrives at High School and discovers that he is no longer the Dux of Primary School but a D student.

His desire is to fulfil his father's ambition that he be a somebody, not a demolition contractor like dad. ((Dennis Coard)

His friends, Pino, (Sam Hryckow) the rebellious poor student, and Debbie, (Nicci Wilks) the wannabe Olympic gymnast, struggle with the ne constraints of secondary school.

When their teacher, Mr.> Cruickshank's (Coard) daughter, Annie, (Sharon Oppy) arrives in class, their lives change.

The horse mad Annie believes she is the reincarnation of Pharlap, jewel of the Aussie racing industry in the 1930s.

One by one, they all come to believe they are reincarnated special people

Mark is Henry Ford, Debbie is John batman and Pino is Elizabeth Kenny, a pioneer of polio treatments.

The play, directed by Melanie Beddie, picks up pace in the later half.

Particularly entertaining for the audience of 10-14 year olds was the naughtiness of the characters and the acrobatic antics of Wilks and Hryckow.

The children decide that even great somebodies made mistakes. They discover, in their research into their alter egos, that Ford's development of vehicle manufacture is responsible for escalating pollution.

Debbie's Batman, (not to be confused with the superhero) cheated the aboriginal people of Melbourne out of their land.

Lastly, Annie believes that Pharlap's phenomenal success triggered the growth in gambling which impacts on Annie's life as her mother (Debra Lawrance) is a gambling addict.

This is a simple lesson in activism, social politics and how to learn without getting bored.

The play is fun, fast moving, cheekily written and performed by a colourful and multi-skilled cast.

School holiday performances should be packed with cheerful kids and parents.

LOOK FOR:  The highjacking of Pharlap

By Kate Herbert

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