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The Bugalugs Bum Thief

Monkey Baa presents THE BUGALUGS BUM THIEF, based on the book by Tim Winton, at the New Lend Lease Darling Theatre Quarter, Darling Harbour.

THE BUGALUGS BUM THIEF has been adapted by Sandra Eldridge, Tim McGarry and Eva Di Cesare from “the hilarious book” by Tim Winton. It is a revival of a production mounted by Monkey Baa in 2002. It is directed by John Saunders with great gusto and liberal hand; designed by Mark Thompson with a delightfully simple painted scenic set that, however, with the movable pieces looks a trifle cumbersome – big boxes on wheels (it is a touring show).

A fishing town called Bugalugs wakes one morning to find the inhabitants have had their bums stolen. It causes great discomfort and physical discombobulation to the citizens.Three young men of the town, Skeeta Anderson (Gideon Cordover), Mick Misery (Carl Batchelor) and Billy Marbles (Mark Dessaix) embark on a mission to find out who has stolen the bums and to retrieve them.

A series of encounters with members of the citizenry ensues, Mr Batchelor and Mr Dessaix play enthusiastically and engagingly a whole range of characters. Mr Batchelor especially winning as Constable Coma, and Mr Dessaix suitably possessed, especially, as Mrs Misery. Mr Cordover as the ‘hero’/leader of this adventure, Skeeta, is impressive with his acrobatic enthusiasms and 110% charm and energy. A more winning performance you could not get.

All great performances are 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration I have been told, and these young artists give their all. Perspiration drips from them in bucket loads. Strangely, over the other side of Darling Harbour, a Fitness Expo was in full swing – the cardio-aerobics by this company is a great demonstration of a way to get fit – a fitness expo of great story-telling energy. The creative efforts of this team was reciprocated by the young audience with overwhelming and noisy pleasure. Children are a notoriously honest audience and this audience was absolutely in the awesome thrall of these actors, and the actors, confidently, with them, it seemed, in the easy rapport that was evidently growing from the first moments of the show to the last. Yay !!!

The adults need not worry about delight either. This week I also saw the Julia Roberts’ film, MIRROR, MIRROR (which I can also enthusiastically recommend) and the post-modernist sense of ironic comedy there, is also present in this delightful book and adaptation by Monkey Baa. Laughs galore on all levels.

This is a new theatre space and Monkey Baa has possession of it. Monkey Baa has an impressive record for children’s theatre entertainment and one hopes this new arrangement down in the Darling Harbour Quarter helps to sustain a permanent children’s theatre in Sydney.

Long overdue, indeed.