Our city is experiencing one of its coldest winters in recent memory. But, what better way to warm up indoors than to see ‘Egg’, the Melbourne Theatre Company’s inventive new mini – musical aimed at youngsters seven years of age and above.
Classic feature films like ‘Charlotte’s Web’, full – scale touring productions such as Disney’s ‘The Lion King’, and even books by celebrated local authors, Aaron Blabey or Shaun Tan, all indicate that kids can absorb, handle and accept bold concepts. Life and death are key to the circle of life, and ‘Egg’, the brand new play written by Angela Betzien, contains its fair share of daring.
The show covers standard territory such as friendship, rejection, jealousy and greed. Woven into the mix however, are several bigger topics relevant to modern living as well. Directed by Leticia Caceres, her vision keeps the easy – to – follow narrative on track, and is never once patronising or cloying.
Veteran actors stage and television actors, Genevieve Morris and Jim Russell, bounce off each other as Horse and Clyde, a pair of rough and tumble, roving tinkers. During their desert travels, Horse is somehow dragging a large egg, but isn’t exactly sure why. Soon, the duo combine forces to retrace their exact steps, and it is that link which becomes the crux of the story. Along the way, they stumble across a tree carrying not only delicious egg fruit, but a mysterious caterpillar – like alien inhabitant which they nickname Ovo.
At first, they are determined to auction their find at a local market to the highest bidder. However, Horse and Clyde have a change of heart, and by shear fate, become Ovo’s primary caregivers.
With its solid sixty minute running time, Morris and Russell play a handfull of other ‘egg – centric’ characters, including the comically self – absorbed husband and wife dictators of Meridia, a planet almost doomed to extinction. In the end, the multi – layered plot resolves itself nicely, and viewers can take away the twin messages of environmental awareness and animal preservation as well.
Everyone will love the cute and captivating puppetry, expertly designed and constructed by Sam Routledge (using all recycled materials), and skillfully brought to life by operator, Michelle Robin Anderson.
The Sweats’ Pete Goodwin, is responsible for sound design. He also composed the five catchy songs with titles like ‘It’s A Tinker’s Life’. ‘Everybody Loves A Baby’ and ‘Forget Me, Yes’, sprinkled throughout the show. Goodwin’s tunes are nicely complimented by Andrew Hallisworth’s lively choreography.
Owen Phillips’ set and costume design is simple, clean, yet playfully relatable. With scenery made to look like oversized balsa – wood cut outs, they were designed for the actors to be pulled apart, explored and reconfigured. Andy Turner’s neat and colourful lighting design kept the story moving, allowing for clear transitions between scenes as well.
Adults will get a kick out of the broad, surrealist humour, aimed at all levels, too. On opening night, a slight prop malfunction, and quick thinking from Morris, turned this potential dilemma into a joke about buying it from Ikea, scoring her a huge laugh.
Drawing on my love of alternative theatre and art house film, at times ‘Egg’ felt like Samuel Beckett’s ‘Waiting For Godot’ meets Michael Gondry’s ‘Eternal Sunshine Of The Spotless Mind’. An odd pair of reference points, to be sure. But in MTC’s capable care, the similarities work for children of every age.
‘Egg’ is playing until July 19 at Southbank’s Lawler Theatre.