Sharon, Keep Your Hair On! based on books by Gillian Rubinstein. Patch Theatre directed by Dave Brown at The Playhouse, August 3-6, 2005, 6.30pm (1 hour)
Patch Theatre tells 3 stories in this production - Sharon Keep Your Hair On!, Hooray for the Kafe Karaoke, and Prue Theroux, the Cool Librarian. The performers are multi-talented singers, musicians, multi-media technicians and communicators with young children (and their parents) in the foyer as well as on stage.
Yet despite the high level of professionalism and sophistication, and a genuine educational purpose, I found myself feeling lukewarm - not fully engaged by the performers. Checking around the audience I noticed this was also true of many of the children. I can certainly recommend the show as an entertainment, with nicely done ironic jokes that most of the children would have missed but their parents enjoyed. I can recommend it for its inclusiveness of diverse ways of living and its emphasis on reading books. These strengths come, of course, from Rubinstein's writing.
I can say I thoroughly enjoyed the energy, timing and terrific musical skills, particularly in the singing of the three women, Astrid Pill, Libby O'Donovan and Catherine Oates. So why was I not completely satisfied?
Patch Theatre claims to "create theatre experiences to fuel children's imaginative engagement to feed and enrich their creative play", but their show is so tight and professionally slick that the audience participation became slotted in to the predetermined schedule. There was not the time or dramatic space allowed for responses from the children to grow, so that the children might feel they were in charge and leading the creativity. Some parents may remember Monica Trapaga's shows where the littlies and lots of bigger people would be singing and dancing to Monica's encouragement. I think those children learned more about experiencing live theatre than in Patch's show, because Trapaga worked with[emphasis] her audience rather than worked her audience. Patch demonstrated theatre to the children; Trapaga had the children play for her.
My reservations should not hold you back from seeing Sharon, Keep Your Hair On! The stories are fun, with good intentions. The show certainly brings the books to life, and should encourage the children to read. Though I did notice singing along with "I love karaoke" was one of the most enthusiastic episodes, but hardly a time of quiet reflective contemplation with a good book.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
Return to Frank McKone'sHome Page