|L-R Josie Cerise as Emily & Sam Buitekant as The Thing_Credit Tall Stories.|
Wednesday, 3 January 2018
Emily Brown and The Thing, Jan 3, 2018 ***1/2
By Tall Stories, based on book by Cressida Cowell & Neal Layton
At Fairfax Studio, Arts Centre Melbourne, until Jan 14, 2018
Reviewer: Kate Herbert
Review also published online at Herald Sun Arts on Wed Jan 3 & in print on Fri Jan 5, 2018. KH
If you have a pre-schooler who suffers non-specific, night-time fears, Emily Brown and The Thing will ring bells, with its story about children being scared of ‘Things’: big, small, loud, quiet or other scary things.
UK company, Tall Stories, adapted this stage show from Cressida Cowell’s popular book and its cheery, approachable cast (Josie Cerise, Timothy Richey, Sam Buitekant) and playful, cartoonish style appeal to the littlies without scaring the pants off them.
Like most under-fives, Emily (Cerise) has a favourite, soft toy and her beloved is a fluffy rabbit called Stanley (Richey) who helps her go to sleep and accompanies her everywhere, including on her late-night adventures when she can’t get to sleep.
Emily and Stanley’s sleep is interrupted by a noise outside her window which comes from a big, raggedy ‘Thing’ (Buitekant) that is crying because he’s lost his own cuddly toy called Cuddly, and, as the play says so clearly, toys are made to help someone feel safe.
The young audience is riveted by Emily and Stanley’s adventures as they go hunting for Thing’s Cuddly, then in search of his sleepy-time, milky drink, and finally, for some magic, green medicine to soothe his hacking cough.
Emily and Stanley courageously brave the Dark and Scary Wood where a Troll snuggles with the lost Cuddly, then go to the Wild and Whirling Wastes where a lonely Polar Bear has snaffled the milky drink, and they end up visiting the Whining Witch who fears she has lost her magical touch.
Despite all Emily and Stanley’s help, poor Thing still can’t sleep and he eventually admits that he is scared, the solution for which, says Emily, is to think of nice things.
So, tonight, whatever your age, take Emily’s advice and think only of nice things and dream of flying.
By Kate Herbert