Stirling is a pleasant town in the Adelaide Hills which was given 38 shows as a share of the Fringe. Most of the performances are in what is almost-accurate-speak, the Pocket. It’s a small (and I’m not kidding) tent on the Stirling Lawns outside the Coventry Library in the heart of town.
Mercifully for this show, The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy, the air conditioning was working although, for some of the time, creating the oddest, deepest noise that seemed to numb one’s core for the first ten minutes or so. However, the two actors took it into their stride, particularly since one of them doesn’t speak. He, however, in the character of obliging Humph, has a lovely expressive face and we like him straight away and his obvious joy in doing what he does.
The best stories start with “Once upon a time ...” don’t they? I’m not sure if this one does, but it ought. After all it is told by an eighteenth century story teller, a gentleman from the way he is dressed and the things that are on his desk like, for example, a goblet, an hourglass and ink. It has a simple dramatic start when we are shown a painting of a planet with a house on it with a mum, dad and their little lad called Cheeseboy inside. The odd thing is that that planet, house and those who live in it are all made of cheese.
The young boy loves to attach his little red boat by rope to the planet, walk across the tightrope it makes, sit in it and pretend he is the captain of a ship sailing across the billowing ocean. His parents are fearful that he might fall, that the rope might break or something and he would float into space. Oh, how terrible that would be because they love him very much. Alas, while Cheeseboy is being Captain one day, the planet and everything on it melts, turning everything to fondue. The rope is burnt and breaks off and the boat sails off over the clouds and it and Cheeseboy eventually land on the sea in our world. Water. He doesn’t know what water is. And so the little boy, alone and longing for his home and parents has to find his way in the world. He grows up, and with the help of a small piece of brie divided into five little pieces, continues to look until he finds his solution.
The youngsters in the audience weren’t the only rapt ones in this simple, delightful tale, charmingly told. We all love a good story and if children are plied with stories and fantasy such as this, who knows where their stimulated imagination will take them as they grow up? At the very least we hope it is to the theatre for the rest of their lives.
It’s a pity the programme doesn’t tell us the name of the actors but a little sleuthing discovered from Artistic Director, Andy Packer, that Stephen Sheehan is Slingsby the gentle story teller, Sam McMahon is Humph and Brad Thomson Operator/Production Manager. Stephen and Sam have been with the show since 2007. You can still catch it at Nairne on the 13th and St. Mary’s College, Franklin Street, Adelaide on the 16th and 17th March.
The Tragical Life of Cheeseboy
by Finegan Kruckemeyer
Venue: The Pocket @ Stirling | Stirling Lawns, Coventry Library, 63 Mt Barker Rd, Stirling, SA
Dates: 2 – 17 March 2018
Tickets: $25 – $28
Bookings: 1300621255 | adelaidefringe.com.au