WORDS: CARLA CARUSO
This show is a stroll down memory lane for Gen-X-aged parents – and loads of fun for young Roald Dahl fans.
It’s the Australian premiere for the two-person, UK production, Roald Dahl and The Imagination Seekers, at the Adelaide Fringe.
The performance is fully commissioned and endorsed by the Roald Dahl Literary Estate and is the only interactive show under licence worldwide.
In the show, actors Nerine Skinner (as “Brenda”) and Robbie Capaldi (“Terry”) play ‘tale tenders’ from a secret organisation. Their job? To look after stories, remember them, and make sure that people are reading the tales to keep them “alive and fresh”.
As a writer, I love this idea – the reminder that a person’s art can live on long after they’re gone!
The challenge for the tale tenders, though, is that invisible ‘wurble-gobblers’ are eating words out of books. Hence, they need the kids in the audience to help bring the words back.
During the show, it warmed my heart to hear kids calling out their favourite Dahl books – from The BFG (apparently also the UK author’s fave) to James and the Giant Peach (his first story, published back in 1961).
Dahl, by the by, wrote more than 20 kids’ books. The key to his success, he once said, was “sympathising with children, realising that to children; parents and schoolteachers are the enemy”.
Also part of his charm was the delightful made-up words he’d often use. It was fun being reminded of such doozies as ‘snozzwangers’ and ‘whangdoodles’.
Other highlights during the show included the audience having to perform an ‘ugly-off’, acting as either Mr or Mrs Twit (the nasty ex-circus trainers from his book, The Twits).
Terry also recalled a special message from that tale: “A person who has good thoughts cannot ever be ugly. You can have a wonky nose and a crooked mouth and a double chin and stick-out teeth, but if you have good thoughts, they will shine out of your face like sunbeams, and you will always look lovely.”
The props during the show were kept to a minimum, although a few magic tricks were performed, including words disappearing and reappearing on a page. The lack of bells and whistles didn’t stop the young attendees from being riveted throughout.
Near the end, Brenda says: “I don’t know where I end, and the stories begin. I keep them close to my heart.” And I feel the same about the books I love!
There’s also a nice, feminist-y twist when the roles flip, and the female assistant becomes the superior to the male.
After the show, I was straight on to my library’s app, reserving Dahl books to share with my kids. (Although, I still find The Witches and the sorceresses with their bald heads and oversized nostrils a bit creepy…)
ROALD DAHL AND THE IMAGINATION SEEKERS
Dates & Times:
March 5-6, 12-14, 19-20 at 11:30am and 2:30pm
Venue: Gluttony – Rymill Park, Adelaide city