Thursday, 19 September 2013

Hard Rubbish, Sept 18, 2013 ****

By Men of Steel
With Strut & Fret and Malthouse Theatre
Beckett Theatre, Malthouse, to Oct 6, 2013
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Stars: ****
 Review also published in Herald Sun online on Thurs Sept 19, 2013 and later in print. KH

Hamish Fletcher, Tamara Rewse

You won’t view your discarded furniture in the same way after seeing this pile of hard rubbish come to life, just like the abandoned toys in Pixar’s Toy Story. 

In this adorable family show, Hard Rubbish, puppeteers manipulate real, household objects, transforming them into recognisable characters and telling a heroic story about the new furniture challenging the old – and the oldies fight back.

The story is classic goodies versus baddies that sees the comfortable but tatty, old furniture playing safely in their dim, dusty garage until the unexpected and stealthy arrival of the conceited, high-tech, glossy 21st century furnishings with their cool, Nordic creator.

Hard Rubbish, directed with wit and invention by Ian Pidd, is riotously funny, poignant, engaging entertainment that has kids and adults cheering for the pre-loved furniture and booing the soulless, white, flat-pack, chest of drawers that invades their domain.

The characters include a cute, little, rocking horse – the hero of the battle – his sweetie-pie pal, the wooden drawers, and her parent, a growling cupboard.

They are supported in their war against the shiny new IKEA, by a comfy, loving couple of puffy sofa cushions, a grumpy, old woman-armchair and a collection of cheeky, feisty golf clubs.

There is a mischievous trio of toilet bowl-pirates, a dopey, gaping washing machine that spills its washing load, and a couple of Sumo wrestling armchairs.

The charming puppeteers (Hamish Fletcher, Jared Lewis, Phillip McInnes, Tamara Rewse, Sam Routledge, Malia Walsh) are visible, but magically merge with their objects, providing characters’ voices as well as their actions, and depicting warm, believable relationships.

It may be difficult to imagine being emotionally connected to an armchair or a cupboard, but these animated objects become real, and the audience gasps when the little rocking horse’s life is at risk or the tiny cupboard chokes on an insidious lollypop.

There is darkness and light in this intelligent and cunningly wrought production and, even if you don’t have kids, you will laugh and cheer for the tattered, decrepit underdogs.

By Kate Herbert

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