52-Storey Treehouse | CDP ProductionsLeft – Jack Starkey-Gill, Alex Duncan and Zoran Jevtic. Cover – Alex Duncan and Jack Starkey-Gill. Photos – Terry Murphy

This is nonsense. Absolute complete utter nonsense. And it’s brilliant.

You’ve got a 52-Storey Treehouse kitted out with (but not limited to) fart recognition technology (i.e. a funnel & some tubing), a Ninja Snail Academy (sporting the cutest eye masks you ever did see) and a very Dr Seuss inspired looking, rocket powered carrot launcher. It’s a madcap mystery/comedy/detective story with a revenge crime, a deranged potato monarch & one very hungry caterpillar. Oh, and a looming book deadline…

It’s based on the two characters, Andy and Terry, who live here and write books together. Ultimately, it’s a play about friendship and adventure.

Adapted by Richard Tulloch from the incredibly successful Treehouse series, created by the much-loved duo Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton – this live theatre experience will make children laugh, howl or squeal (or possibly all three) with delight.

There’s so much fabulous imagination at work here; written with such heart and a stream of consciousness, that as an adult, you get the sense that the kids think, no rather wish, it could happen to them. It really does tickle their fancy.

I read that Andy Griffith’s “likes to tell stories about characters who are so completely obsessed with their particular need or goal that they will do anything to achieve it – even if what they are doing is completely stupid.” He’s also constantly asking, “what’s the worst thing that can happen next? And then make it happen. Or then surprise them by doing the complete opposite.” Working from that premise, it’s no wonder the kiddies were enthralled.

Jam packed with physical comedy, slapstick, sloppy kissing, chase sequences, puppetry, rhyming, word play, puns and even popular culture references (The Cone of Remembrance paying tribute to Get Smart’s, Cone of Silence), an upbeat soundtrack with very witty lyrics including a C&W number and a pantomime horse costume – and who doesn’t love a pantomime horse costume, I ask?

Mark Thompson’s costume and very clever set design (in particular) deserves high praise. Clearly indicating Thompson’s own imagination and ingenuity at translating the literal into the actual. The set was exposed as we entered the Playhouse Theatre, prompting my somewhat sceptical, 8 year-old son to say, “how can that (with an emphasis on the ‘that’) be the 52-Storey Treehouse?” Well, wait and see, I told him. He wasn’t disappointed.

And the sound & lighting effects, they were mind-blowingly awesome too, by Ross Johnston & Nicholas Higgins, respectively.

At the end of the performance, the characters thanked us for sharing their Treehouse, when in fact; it should be us, saying no, Thank You.

Arts Centre Melbourne presents a CDP Production
The 52-Storey Treehouse
by Richard Tulloch | adapted from the book by Andy Griffiths & Terry Denton

Venue: Arts Centre Melbourne
Dates: 1 – 17 April 2016
Bookings: artscentremelbourne.com.au | 1300 182 183

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