The Long Time 'til Tea written and directed by Greg Lissaman. Jigsaw Theatre CompanyNovember 20 - December 1, 2001.
"I liked all [emphasis] of it" said one 4-year-old to her parent at the end, though there were many who didn't want to see the "crab" again when the puppets were revealed after the show.
In fact there were times when the long time felt a bit too long for me and by the end I concluded that though there is nothing wrong in the educational principles (encouraging the children's imagination of shapes and colours), something is missing in The Long Time 'til Tea compared with Jigsaw's previous early-childhood winner, The Man Whose Mother Was a Pirate. Unfortunately, too, I couldn't forget Geoffrey Rush, Deborah Mailman et al playing 5-year-olds in David Holman's Small Poppies. Rush's entirely imaginary dog grabbed kids and adults in the audience by the throat emotionally in a way that carved foam puppets could never match.
The Long Time is a nice whimsy and excellent "black theatre" puppetry manipulated by Rachael Whitworth, with more than competent technical design and operation by Catherine Wright, but too often John Hunt (entertaining himself in his backyard after school until teatime) seemed to be twiddling his thumbs rather than getting on with the action.
What's missing is a really strong sense of journey to discovery (the key to both those other plays) to give shape to the on-stage child's imagination and the off-stage childrens' understanding. The concept of filling in time is too amorphous, I think too adult, for 4 - 6 year olds. This was why many of them failed to realise that it wasn't a crab that young Peter had to confront in the tunnel he had floated into on his washing basket boat, but a termite. I won't try to explain, but the point is that the young audience's imaginations were more logical in developing the story in their heads than the adults' idea of children's imaginations which led from a boat in the sky to meeting a termite underground.
So, although the season is already booked, and I'm sure the children will enjoy, I think the script needs more development before it deserves a wider exposure.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
Return to Frank McKone'sHome Page