Left – Jo Turner, Gabriel Fancourt and Madeleine Jones. Cover – Madeleine Jones, Gabriel Fancourt and Jo Turner
It’s Out of the Box Festival time again at QPAC and one of the many performances on offer this year is the theatrical interpretation of Oliver Jeffers’ The Incredible Book Eating Boy. Jeffers’ book is joyfully brought to life with just the right amount of silliness, song and book eating for all. The play is written by Maryam Master and was commissioned especially for this year’s festival by Out of the Box.
My son’s bookshelf holds many Oliver Jeffers’ books and they are a regular choice for his nightly story reading time. I believe what attracts children to Jeffers’ stories are his characters. Jeffers’ characters are motivated by the same kind of literal logic most young children use. The humour in his books speaks to children too; my son always gets a giggle from the characters’ antics. As we follow Henry’s tale of ‘book eating’ live on stage the very thing that draws young minds into the picture book narrative also draws them into the live stage action.
Master’s adaptation, coupled with performers Warrick Allsopp, Teresa Jakovich and George Kemp’s wonderful realizations of each character, makes for an endearing, funny and childishly absurd experience. From the very beginning the young viewers are engaged, acknowledged and entertained as they help tutor the book that is attempting to terrorize Henry in a dream. The pace of the show is perfect for keeping young seat wrigglers focused and the variety of characters and their simple yet caricature traits, such as the Boy Eating Book, Fred the Cat and the Librarian are without a doubt favourites with the little audience members. Those familiar with Jeffers’ books will instantly recognise the visuals of his work wonderfully incorporated into every element of design. Jeffers’ style is fantastically represented in the set adding to the visual delight and whimsy of the performance.
The Incredible Book Eating Boy at Out of the Box will definitely be a favourite for those who already know and love Jeffers’ work. For those new to his stories, you’ll be hard pressed not to fall in love with Henry and the band of quirky characters who explore the charming logic that can be found, when one delves with childlike curiosity, into pages and even chapters of the fun that lives within the metaphor of devouring a good book.
The Incredible Book Eating Boy
by Maryam Master | based on the book by Oliver Jeffers
Directed by Frank Newman
Venue: Playhouse, QPAC
Dates: 25 Jun – 2 Jul 2014
Part of the 2014 Out of the Box Festival