Family Theatre Review: The Thing from the Place
Time Out in association with Theatre Beating
Concert Chamber, Town Hall
October 8, 2013
Reviewed by Frances Morton
The Thing from the Place is a very vague title. This madcap sci-fi caper for children aged 6 to 12 should really be called The Giant Booger from Frankie’s Nose, but that may be a little confronting on the poster. I had missed the subtlety of the publicity image with its tell-tale facial trail of green slime, however once the play starts it doesn’t take long to realise it’s all about snot.
Young Frankie thinks he has discovered a cure for the common sniffle so off he goes to share the breakthrough with his favourite professor, who in typical B-movie style turns out to be a mad scientist with evil intent. Actors Jonathan Brugh and Trygve Wakenshaw are hilarious physical comedians. Brugh, as our hero Frankie, plays a very likeable geek. Wakenshaw dashes between costume changes playing Frankie’s prissy mother and the dastardly professor. He is so exceedingly gangly that every gesture is like watching a cartoon come to life. The action is backed up by a stonking live musical accompaniment, which adds wonderfully to the tension but occasionally drowns out the dialogue in the hollow concert chamber space. Technically, this is a very slick production with a multilevel set, clever graphic projections, smoke, lights and puppetry. All the theatrical wizardry works hard around the classic scientist-created-a-monster storyline (although in this case horror is dialled back to make the creature more loveable than frightening).
The monster’s creation is a visual treat. The green goo’s presence grows and grows until a life-size snot-being appears on stage. How that comes to be and what happens next is really utterly bonkers but the creature’s bobbly, spandex costume is a stroke of genius and gets the biggest laughs of the show.
My nine-year-old companion turned to me at the end of the play and said, “I really didn’t get that.” I don’t blame him. It’s a ludicrous story, expertly told. Snot lovers will dig it. Kids wary of the absurd will be flat-out bamboozled.
50 minutes. No interval.
Until October 12.