Elaine Forrestal

Spare Parts Puppet Theatre

Shaun Tan signing books at The Literature Centre in Fremantle

The school holidays can provide an opportunity to look at other people’s stories and how they can be presented in different ways.

Spare Parts Puppet theatre has based their new production on Shaun Tan’s collection of short stories from Tales from Outer Suburbia. In a wonderfully innovative and exciting production they have brought to life the everyday world of suburbia, but with some very surprising twists. There is the familiar incident of a boy’s ball which goes over the fence of a grumpy neighbour – but when it is thrown back to him it has been cut in half! And the irregular appearance of an enormous water buffalo that lives in the long neglected buffalo grass on the vacant block. There are the scraps of paper, discarded and forgotten, which gravitate towards each other and form an enormous ball of writing. And the stick people who appear, dropping from the trees after storms or strong winds. Who are they? Why have they come? What do they want? Along with the other computer generated and lighting effects that add to the ethereal feel of the play, the eyes of these stick figures, glowing brightly, stare at us  in the audience and seem to ask the same questions. Who are we? Why are we here? What do we want?

My answer is, ‘I’m here to stretch my mind and exercise my imagination.’ Yet again, the team at Spare Parts has come up with a way to adapt a very complex and unusual text to make it accessible entertaining and moving for people of all ages.