Spare Parts Puppet Theatre is an integral part of the Perth theatre scene, with their 37-year existence still maintaining a brilliant team of performers and production values. The Farmer’s Daughter is a wonderful example of this high-calibre combination creating a show that hits the mark at entertaining while educating young children on the history of early settlement farming. Yet this is no romantic cliché storytelling of Australiana, rather a grittier thought piece told in manner that the contemporary youth can relate to.
Ruth Battle opens the feeling of the show with unique interpretative dance of the natural surrounds before settlement. The lighting is effectively minimal in creating that unknown, ethereal feeling that would have been experienced by the first farmers – trying to tame this harsh land. This sets the tone for the huge contrast that quickly emerges in the next scene.
Renowned for their simple and yet beautiful set and prop designs, again Spare Parts Puppet Theatre continue to impress. All four actors interact and manipulate the set/props in symbolically choreographed style that aptly suits the message given with only small amounts of dialogue. This clever execution truly brings home the inner turmoil of this farming family, told mostly through the perspective of a young girl (Daisy Coyle) who could relate to the men more than the women in her life.
This story is from told experiences of the farming community of Merredin moulded into one story of a farmer (St John Cowcher), his wife (Rebecca Bradley) and their plucky daughter who loves getting her hands dirty and having radio conversations with her grandfather. This grandparent that you can only hear, provides poetic words of wisdom that assist her adjust to dealing with these bitter hardships that put a mental strain on their psyche and relationships. However, all is portrayed with a sense of innocence and humour that works perfectly in connecting to the young audience.
The Farmer’s Daughter is an emotional, yet sweet play brought to life with physical movements of pure class. Certainly not a traditional puppet show, and thus more interesting show for young and old!
Review | Kieran Eaton
WHEN: 30 June – 20 July 2018 | 10am, 1pm & 6:30pm | See dates for times
WHERE: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre | 1 Short Street FREMANTLE
INFO: Tickets from $23 | Duration 50 mins | 10 min Q & A after | Suitable 5+ | Perfect 8+