Saturday, 11 January 2014

Big Bad Wolf, Jan 11, 2014 ***1/2

Written by Matthew Whittet
Windmill Theatre, presented by Melbourne Theatre Company
MTC Lawler Theatre, until Jan 25, 2014
Reviewer: Kate Herbert on Jan 11
 Review also published in Herald Sun on Friday, Jan 17, 2014. KH
 L-R  Emma J Hawkins Patrick Graham, Photo by Tony Lewis.

It’s hard to make friends at the best of times but, when you’re a big, bad wolf, it is must be like pulling teeth – or canine fangs.

In Big Bad Wolf, Matthew Whittet’s play, Wolfy (Patrick Graham) is the antithesis of the fearsome, fairytale wolf that huffs and puffs or eats Grandma in a single gulp.

Graham’s Wolfy is a goofy, naive and very lonely Vegemitarian who writes poetry, likes “peoples” and doesn’t ever eat them, despite the wishes of his authoritarian mother-wolfmaster (Kate Cheel).

However, every person and animal in Alarmville runs screaming when they see Wolfy, so he has no friends – except for a non-wolfist, performing flea – until he meets equally friendless Heidi Hood (Emma J. Hawkins).

The simple message for the audience of children over 5 is not to judge people by their outward appearances because, even if people look different, they can still be your friends.

Heidi and Wolfy’s friendship develops secretly to avoid criticism and alarm in the village but, finally, they join forces to win the town poetry tournament and Heidi introduces Wolfy, the talented poet and pacifist, to the people.

Graham successfully plays Wolfy as a sympathetic, gentle and oafish clown with a peculiar German accent and childlike playfulness.

Hawkins is feisty and athletic as Heidi Hood, a distant cousin of Red Riding Hood, and charms the children with her celebratory dance and acrobatics.

Kate Cheel courageously depicts all other characters including the narrator, TV newsreader, a fluffy bunny puppet, the invisible flea, a talking couch and a tree, but her range of character voices and her comic skills are limited.

Whittet’s writing is sometimes a little lacklustre, but Big Bad Wolf is chirpy, warm entertainment for littlies.

By Kate Herbert

Patrick Graham (Wolfy)
Kate Cheel (Narrator, Couch, Rabbit, Grandmaster Wolf, TV Reporter, Tree, Flea)
Emma J Hawkins (Heidi Hood)

Director Rosemary Myers
Designer Jonathon Oxlade
Lighting Designer Chris Petridis
 Movement Carol Wellman Kelly
 Sound Designer Harry Covill
 L-R Patrick Graham, Kate Cheel, Emma J Hawkins. Photo by Tony Lewis

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