With his intelligent themes, quirky other worlds, strong female characters and beautifully succinct dialogue, Irish/Tasmanian playwright Finegan Kruckemeyer has made quite the name for himself in the children’s theatre world. Adults and children alike are entranced. And the prolific writer’s latest collaboration with Terrapin Puppet Theatre for the Melbourne Festival does not disappoint.
Influenced by Kamishibai, a form of Japanese, post-war street theatre, You and Me and the Space In Between is like a play-turned picture book which unfurls before your very eyes. The gorgeous island community of the Proud Circle is brought to life by cartoonist Oslo Davis – whose illustrations are created live on an iPad and projected onto the back drop – narrator Katherine Tonkin, musician Dean Stevenson, and puppeteer Felicity Horsley create silhouettes which interact with the drawings. A different local narrator and illustrator is engaged in each city the play travels to, so each production is unique.
The people of the Proud Circle are blissfully unaware of anything else that might exist in the outside world – their wonderfully balanced ecosystem is the centre of the universe. Until one day, the island springs a leak. All the adults are useless. Luckily a 12-year-old girl, Eve, who has always wondered what lay beyond, is thinking laterally, and has an idea to row the island to find help.
The Proud Circle people discover the land of the Long Cliffs, a big bustling, foreign city. At first interaction is curious and friendly, and the people of the Long Cliffs are happy for the island to pull up along side them. But then tensions spring from their cultural differences, and someone cuts the chord tying them together. When the island is tossed around mercilessly during a terrible storm, the people of the Proud Circle realise they must emigrate to the mainland – “to save ourselves we must forget ourselves”.
With You and Me and the Space in Between, Kruckemeyer has created a universal, poignant allegory of the refugee plight which resonates with all ages, and Terrapin’s telling of it is inventive and charming.
Terrapin Puppet Theatre
You and Me and the Space Between
by Finegan Kruckmeyer
Director Sam Routledge
Venue: Beckett Theatre | The Coopers Malthouse 113 Sturt Street, Southbank VIC
Dates: 6 – 9 October 2016
Tickets: $42 – $22
Part of the 2016 Melbourne Festival