In a world of gingham, fairy lights and toys, toys and more toys, lives a slightly quirky but fun family. As we are slowly introduced to them one by one after they pop out from the gingham walls through their corresponding body shaped cut outs, we learn that they search the universe for lost toys.
Fluff is a wonderful combination of music, soundscape, dance, movement and multimedia. Peter Nelson DJ’s the performance and provides the musical score for each found toy that is featured in the show. He mixes in live samples collected during the performance ranging from squeaky trolley wheels to the sounds created by the other performers, to the chicken and frog noises the children in the audience are asked to contribute. Fluff’s creator Christine Johnston leads the family members and is the only performer who speaks and sings. Lisa O’Neill is the daughter/mini version of Christine Johnston’s character and she brings her dance skills to the stage, with her tap dancing most impressing the young audience. The tap dance/vocal play off between Johnston and O’Neill is very amusing. Johnston uses vocal clicks and other noises to imitate tap dancing noises while O’Neill uses her feet to create the vocalised choreography.
Ten toys, brought out one by one, have their story shared and the audience learns the way they came to be lost. The energetic and springy Disco Frog had an unfortunate accident with a ceiling fan and was flung far away from home, while Fluff, the tiniest toy got sucked up by a vacuum cleaner. Their stories are told via the video screen images played out throughout the show.
The children who came to see the performance were clearly delighted and completely engaged in the action on stage. At times it felt like the performance was dragging a little and ten seemed like a lot of toys, especially when they all wouldn’t go to sleep; Johnston and O’Neil had to work their way through every one to calm the toys down after they launched into a bit of pre bedtime naughtiness.
There is a lot to discover and explore in Fluff and there is humour to be found for the adults as well as the children. It’s lovely how each toy is given its own personality and story and the live mixed soundtrack supports it. The interactive moments come at just the right time for the young audience and the use of technology is seamlessly integrated. I’m sure the children who come to see the show will be remembering the toys, the music, the sounds and the tales of the toys’ plight for quite some time after they have left the theatre.
by Christine Johnston
Venue: Cremorne Theatre, QPAC, South Brisbane
Dates: 13 September – 1 October, 2011