Left – Nat Jobe. Photo – Heidrun Lohr
Horrible Harriet revels in her horribleness, as she struts her stuff at the Art Centre Melbourne, courtesy of CDP Theatre Productions. Transitioning from page to stage, has dulled none of her naughtiness, brashness or shouty-ness. And with lyrics like “you’ve read all about me you can’t do without me” she’s gloriously delusional.
For the young audience (recommended ages 3-8), the theatre experience was very engaging. When presented with characters who aren’t simply good or bad – but rather nuanced, different and wonderfully content, it exposes them to more complex characters – just like in the real world.
Director Liesel Badorrek, has swapped genders for the lead roles of Horrible Harriet and Athol, Nat Jobe and Kate Smith, respectively, to emphasise the characters differences and energy. It worked. The children were definitely emotionally invested – unabashedly yelling out “you’re being really horrible Harriet” or squealing in absolute delight, every time a mere hint of Mr Chicken was teasingly revealed from behind the set. This all added to the sense of fun and impending mischief.
Nat Jobe as Horrible Harriet, sporting a magnificently oversized, almost cartoonish-like dress, with bouncy plaits and over zealous eyebrows (that look like they’d been drawn on with permanent marker), perfectly captured all of her personality traits with a smidgen of vulnerability.
Kate Smith as Athol, sporting equally magnificent breeches (a tad Humpty Dumpty), was utterly irresistible as the warm and non-judgmental, new and only friend.
Liam J. O’Byrne in multiple roles as Mr Boggle, Mrs Plume and Cauldron Man, had a great voice and provided lots of comic fodder.
Mark Thompson’s design brilliantly referenced Leigh Hobb’s exquisitely detailed illustrations. Whilst Ross Johnston’s sound design and score, particularly Horrible Harriet’s stomping rap, proved an absolute crowd pleaser.
So if your kiddies adore the wicked or the gargantuan Mr Chicken or just celebrating the different, you best spend an hour at the Playhouse these school holidays.
Arts Centre Melbourne presents a CDP Kids Production
by Maryam Master | adapted from the books by Leigh Hobbs
Venue: Playhouse | Arts Centre Melbourne
Dates: 27 – 30 September 2017
Tickets: $39 – $26