Mr Bleak and the EtryopMr O. Bleak (Nick Maxwell) is having a bad day, he is trying desperately to get to work on time to hand his report in and get a promotion. Unfortunately everything seems to go from bad to worse when he encounters the kids from the local primary school: Julia Jasmin Jenkins (Natasha Jacobs), Victor Dimin-nimin-ninsky (Robin Brown) and Bethany Anne McCorkindale (Leah Gabriel). A close run-in with Victor’s frisbee sends Mr Bleak to the school sick bay and things only get worse from there as we discover that Mr Bleak not only allergic to poetry but that he’s arrived at school on Poetry Day. Will Mr Bleak discover that he really likes poetry or will he return to his dull job at Drudgery Fastenings?

All of the cast in this children’s Comedy Festival show certainly enjoy themselves as they move around the space, singing, dancing and just generally having fun, and as a result the hour-long show whizzes along. While there’s not much to keep the adults engaged, the kids seem to love it and that guarantees their attention. The show is definitely aimed at kids between 5-10 years old and any kids aged either side of this may struggle to be engaged.

It’s hard to single out any one performer as they are all very good, but Robin Brown as Victor has some scene-stealing moments in his efforts to try and call an ambulance for Mr Bleak, and Nick Maxwell does well to show all of the various sides to Mr Bleak’s personality. Nathan Strauss’ Word Collector is a little bit more camp than he needs to be, especially when his costume does a good job of almost upstaging him before he even begins to speak. Natasha Jacobs clearly relishes her role as Julia, and of all the cast she seems to have the most fun playing around. Leah Gabriel is good as Bethany but really shines as the good teacher Miss Laureate (and no doubt in her extra role as the show’s producer).

Tim Redmond’s direction is good for the most part and he is particularly good at creating the show’s sound effects in an improv-style over the microphone. The changeovers between scenes did drag a little creating unintentional flat spots and the Gasworks theatre at times seemed a little cavernous for such a small tight show. The script by Elizabeth Honey has a lot of really great ideas about using words, anagrams, poetry and the importance of learning but they all seem to get tossed around without really coming together neatly. As a show it’s definitely more fun than laugh-out loud funny but it’s this light-hearted frivolity that keeps the whole thing moving along at a good pace.

Afterwards there’s plenty more for the kids to do, they can have a book signed by Elizabeth Honey, and there’s Gasworks Park to go out and explore. So if you’re looking for something to do these school holidays, all in all this will prove to be a good day out. Finally if you’re wondering what an Etryop is, all will be revealed when you go to see the show and it is well worth the surprise.

Lovely Night Productions presents
Mr Bleak and the Etryop
by Elizabeth Honey

Venue: Gasworks Theatre, Gasworks Arts Park | Cnr Graham & Pickles Sts, Albert Park (Melway ref. 2J H7)
Dates: 7th – 14th April
Tickets: $12.50 all tickets
Times: 11.00am daily
Bookings: (03) 9699 3253 or online at

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