Presented by: IpSkip Productions
Reviewed: 16 July 2018
Based on the classic book by E. B. White, Joseph Robinette’s adaptation of Charlotte’s Web is a one hour play version of the story with a reduced cast of eight who portray all the key roles. We follow Wilbur, the runt of a litter of pigs, saved from becoming ham by a young girl named Fern. When he eventually becomes too big for the farm everything seems lost – until he makes the acquaintance of a helpful spider, Charlotte.
IpSkip’s production is presented in a curtained off area in a section of a photographic studio, with a simple row of chairs for adults and floor space for the children, around 30 pre-schoolers and junior primary, ensuring they are physically right where the action is. On the day I attended they were transfixed as the story begins, clearly narrated by Steve Lewis.
Whilst all performances are of a good standard, the children are most taken with the delightful playfulness of Wilbur, Eloise Quinn Valentine, the liveliness of Templeton, James Skilton and the quickfire, repetitive humour of Goose and Gander, Lauren Taylor and Rahimah Russel respectively. Charlotte, Tarsha Cameron, is much gentler and even quiet in her presentation and whilst that defines her character, a little more exuberance would appeal more to the young audience.
There is no set to this production, minimal props, and characters are defined by small additions of a nose, ears or wings to the standard ‘costume’ of black trousers and white shirt. I feel this is a wasted opportunity. This production is aimed at a young demographic and children love colour. Costumes could easily be much brighter without going to any great effort or expense. It is also disappointing that there is no direct interaction with the audience, as at this age they love to call out responses or have a character ‘speak’ to them directly. Without this, the experience will be less memorable and 60 minutes of dialogue is a long time, resulting, at this performance, in many of the younger children becoming restless.
Nevertheless, the cast’s enthusiasm shines through and this is a classic story which many will know well. I commend any theatre company that encourages parents to bring the youngest of children to see a live performance. It’s inexpensive, perfectly scheduled and a great diversion for the school holidays.
Reviewed by Trish Francis
Venue: Black Canvas Photographers, 4 Percy Court,
Season: 16 – 20 July 2018
Duration: 60 Minutes No Interval
Tickets: $15 – $18