Today is a bit of a trains, planes and automobiles day for Eva and I..but only because, as most normal people do, we decided to squeeze in a theatre trip before we leave for holiday. Nathan and Roo are coming for the holiday bit but opted out of early morning Big Cat shenaningans at Chickenshed in the form of “The Tigon and the Liger” – based on the book by Keilly Swift and performed by the team behind “Tales From the Shed“.
It was a kind of mixture between a typical “Tales From the Shed” performance and a more formal Chickenshed play like “Mr Stink” – it was downstairs in the Rayne Theatre and was more choreographed than a “Tales” performance but it had the relaxed informality of one. Tiny kids ran onto the stage and were embraced as part of the performance without the dancers missing a beat or ever dropping their smiles. The seating had been folded back and so we sat on pink fur on the ground and were encouraged to dance along, with the dance moves being taught at the start of the performance. As we walked in, there was already a jam going on, around the lyrics “we’re back where we belong” so there was no awkward waiting for the show to start, which can be tricky with the very littlest ones.
The show itself was fairly straightforward – two animals who don’t fit in leave their homes, eventually find each other and return to show the other animals that there’s nothing wrong with being different to society’s idea of normal. If you know anything about Chickenshed, you’ll recognise this theme running strongly throughout their work. The two creatures are a Tigon – product of a tiger father and lion mother – and a Liger – vice versa. They were portrayed three different ways in the show, with two actors in face paint taking up the main narrative bulk but with actors in full animal costumes appearing towards the end and puppets as well. There was shadow puppetry and mime and well as acting and narration. There were full-ensemble dance numbers, with the opening “Harmony” living up to its name as a standout piece. So, in short, a lot going on. The simple story stretched itself well into around a 45-minute show with no feeling of padding, just joyful music and dancing.
Eva’s favourite character was probably the bird with the red bottom who kept falling over, and who implored us not to break the fourth wall even though we were encouraged to do just that at the end. He wasn’t in the source text but added an extra layer of physical comedy which kids always adore, don’t they? She also really liked the dual character representing the sun and the moon – played by Chickenshed regular Sarah Connolly – because of her sparkly hat and lipstick. At the end we got to meet her, along with the rest of the cast, but Eva was a bit starstruck (sun/moonstruck?) and didn’t quite know what to say. She enjoyed playing with the drums and the shadow puppetry though:
Another great show from Chickenshed – not many shows combine the simple storytelling beloved of pre-schoolers with the dazzle and choreography of a company well used to each other’s work. As the closing song told the audience to be happy in their own skin – with video backdrop illustrating the point – Eva turned to me and said “Yes, I’m quite happy with my skin. It’s quite nice”. And that’s how Chickenshed always makes you feel – you should be happy with your own skin. It’s quite nice.
“The Tigon and the Liger” is on till Thursday 18th April, with performances at 9:15am, 11am and 1pm. For tickets and more information, click here.
Disclaimer: I received a free press ticket in exchange for a review. All opinions remain honest and my own.