Gondwana: A Live Journey Through Time. ERTH Visual and Physical Theatre at the National Museum of Australia directed by Scott Wright. September 24 - October 9, 2005, (except Mondays), 11am and 2pm (and 6pm Friday September 30, Saturday October 1). Bookings: Phone NMA Freecall 1800 558 670; Details: www.nma.gov.au/events/major_events/gondwana/
Apart from Grand Finals, do not miss Gondwana. It's a fascinating live theatre museum exhibition which takes you back into "deep time" when Australia, New Zealand, Africa, India and South America were all joined to Antarctica - one huge continent we call Gondwana.
ERTH's genuinely life-size dinosaurs are just amazing. They move like the real thing, far better than Walking with Dinosaurs, thanks to one-time Canberran puppeteers adviser Peter Wilson and technician Bryony Anderson. Just you wait for the big one at the end.
The voice-over parts of the soundtrack are a bit acoustically-challenged, being mixed in with very large sounds of ancient evolution, but don't worry. The story is easy to follow in the action and projections, and you get a very informative sheet to go with the show so you can accurately answer the children's inevitable questions.
If you really want the details, seek out the books by ERTH's palaeontology adviser, Dr Mary White: The Greening of Gondwana, After the Greening, and Listen ... Our Land is Crying. This show is the first of three which will cover the time up to the dinosaurs, time after the dinosaurs, and the present time and future of Australia.
If for nothing else, you must see the imaginative, beautiful landscape of Gondwana in the time when moss, ferns, and cycads were as tall as today's trees. After the show you can see how ERTH make whole forests grow, collapse and grow again.
This is excellent theatre in the service of a great museum, where you should also visit the related displays: Platypus and Diprotodon (Tangled Destinies), Emu and Ochre (First Australians) and the Gondwana Plants (in the entrance hall), including Wollemi Pines. The science is accurate and the drama is engaging, from the goggle-eyed youngsters to very impressed adults I saw on opening day. A full house, by the way, so book early.
© Frank McKone M.A., F.A.C.E.
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