Wednesday, 4 July 2007

My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch, July 4, 2007

What: My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch by Graeme Base with Garry Ginivan
Where and When: July 4 Clocktower, July 7 Nunawading, July 10 Darebin, July 11 Werribee, 13 July Kyneton, National Theatre July 17-19 then touring Victoria2007
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on July 4, 2007

My Grandma Lived in Gooligulch, adapted from Graeme Base’s children’s book, is a lively and cheerful musical theatre show for three to eight year-olds. The simple narrative, beautifully harmonised singing and both human and puppet characters enthral the littlies.

Kate (Ashlea Pyke) is a stroppy city kid who travels, under duress, to Gooligulch to stay with the Grandma (Brenda Clarke) she barely remembers. Kate is rude because she resents missing all the city fun during the school holidays. She huffs and puffs because she cannot receive a signal on her mobile. Life without SMS is unbearably primitive.

Gooligulch is a fictional, magical country town with a population of 32, most of whom are native animals that can speak. The puppet creatures lead full lives. Goanna and Dingo play cards with Rat who is an inveterate cheat; clever Cocky teases the silly Galahs; the town gossips - Emus wearing pearl necklaces and carrying handbags - run the Gossip, Hearsay, Chit Chat and Chinwag Association.

Graeme Base’s book, adapted effectively for stage with director Garry Ginivan, depicts Kate’s journey from ignorance of the country to knowing and loving both its animal residents and her courageous and eccentric Gran.

There are simple lessons about tolerance to be learned through the entertainment. The final message is, “If you always look for a new horizon you will never be disappointed. You just have to adjust your eyes.”

The show is designed for three to eight year olds and the six actors engage the very young audience with singable songs, physical antics and charming characters. Dean Lotherington’s original arrangements are staged with panache by musical director Mark Jones. The opening song is a rousing chorus of Gooligulch Is The Place To Be. The city boys taunt Kate about her trip to the country with a song called What Do You Want To Do That For? And Kate’s surprise birthday is celebrated with Come Along to the Billabong.

The supporting cast (Luke Tonkin, Andrew Dunne, Cameron MacDonald, Daniel Schumann) create a fine chorus of voices and a parade of comical characters. Ginivan keeps the action lively and engaging being careful to ensure that even the big-eyed night creatures are not frightening.

This show is fun for all the family and is touring Victoria.

By Kate Herbert

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