It’s magic. The sights and sounds of the Australian outback come to life and yet there’s not a single gum tree, kangaroo or koala in sight. Helly’s Magic Cup is no traditional Aussie play. It is a wondrous journey of discovery as a family struggles in the middle of a drought.
Director David Mealor has once again cast his particular magic spell over an Adelaide production with this modern-day tale by writer Rosalba Clemente.
Helly’s Magic Cup is a poetic depiction of life on an outback farm as seen through the eyes of a child. The feeling of being in the outback is palpable and yet the setting is simple and story is unique.
Designer Cath Cantlon has fashioned the stage as a bare and brown landscape with only a tree house and a few poles depicting trees. A hillock rises in the middle of the stage with what appear to be cracks in the dry earth at times, and then at other times the cracks are underlit to create dreamlike scenes. Mark Pennington’s lighting effects are enchanting.
The quintessential tree house provides an instant magic carpet ride back into Australian childhood memories redolent of adventure and fun. All of a sudden this story feels familiar, the cast more like neighbours or friends rather than actors.
Andrea Demetriades delightfully depicts 13-year-old Helly D’Oro who discovers a world where imagination is a powerful weapon against misfortune. Demetriades is captivating, portraying the realism of a young girl as well as the rich world of her inner journey. This is a world in which a young girl yearns to be a princess; a can of tomatoes becomes a holy grail, and a visiting scientist a white knight.
Ezra Juanta is an equally delightful foil as Helly’s brother Loo, creating his own impish character while also depicting a brother-like reluctance to become involved in Helly’s creative world.
Elena Carapetis and Renato Musolino are powerful in their performances as the parents battling the ravages of the drought on their lives, and Joseph Del Re is convincing as a genetically modified knight.
Carmel Johnson proves her comedic talents and is hilarious as the saccharine cow Guinevere, clearly a favourite with the children in the audience.
Nevertheless this is young Helly’s hero’s journey and it carries a strong message, reminding us of the power that lies within, and the potency of maintaining a belief in oneself, and the beauty of the world around us.
Windmill Performing Arts and the Adelaide Festival Centre present
Helly's Magic Cup
by Rosalba Clemente
Venue: Space Theatre
Season: 29 August - 13 September
Tickets: Adults $29, Children $19, SPU $25, Family $90
Duration: 75 minutes
Bookings: BASS on 131 246