As Bambert’s pages ascend the skies in their paper balloons, so too do his dreams and wishes. For, after all, what is a story if not a wish?
There is something intrinsically wondrous in German story-telling – a tangible magic that pulses in the air surrounding the storyteller. Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories is the beautifully staged adaptation of obscure German writer Reinhardt Jung‘s collection of stories. Artistic Director of Barking Gecko Theatre, Luke Kerridge found the charming old tome in a bookshop stuffed with wonders and knew that it would make a beautiful, poignant show. Kerridge and adaptor, Dan Giovannoni take the essence of Jung’s story – that of the power of words, the transformative power of stories, and the humanity of sharing tales, and gives it the Barking Gecko treatment. With an intricate and awe-inspiring set, a veritable costume box of characters encased in a flurry of textiles, and whimsically charming puppetry, Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories leaps off the page and into the hearts of the young, and young at heart alike!
Mr Bloom – played by the phenomenally talented Igor Sas, runs a grocery store. Not just any grocery store – the kind that deals in exotic wares, sourced from all over the world. The shop is filled to the brim with quirky items that seem to be just right for the beautiful, wooden set designed by Jonathon Oxlade. It’s a cabinet of curiosities turned pantry – an Aladdin’s cave that is somehow perfectly ordered, and perfectly magical. Everything has its place, and some of the elements become intertwined with the stories themselves. Sas communicates with the eponymous Bambert (we’ll come to him in a minute) via a charming little lift that is used to send breakfast and sundries up to his attic sanctuary. Dominating the upper space is Bambert’s huge book – a wondrous tome full of enchanting parchment that contain his fable-like stories. When Bambert decides to let his pages go so that the stories can find a home, the real magic occurs – as Bambert’s pages ascend the skies in their paper balloons, so too do his dreams and wishes. For, after all, what is a story if not a wish?
It is an understatement to say that Bambert exudes charm, most notably in the depiction of the character himself – the shrivelled, yet kindly little puppet manuevered and ‘voiced’ by St John Cowcher. Bambert is an old man, so he takes his time walking from the lift to the armchair, and back across to his book. Cowcher’s hilarious little sound effects punctuate each movement, transforming a painstakingly slow journey into a captivating one. After Bambert sends his stories off into the night sky, he calmly sits back and waits for them to return to him. And return they do! Brought to life by the wonderful ensemble (Amanda McGregor, Jo Morris, and Nick Maclaine) the stories are coloured by exotic princesses, far-off lands, spooky London fog, and profound loss lifted by profound hope. As the ensemble enrich Bambert’s book, so too they enrich his life.
Each story takes over the stage through a veritable costume box – the stories thrumming with possibilities. The delivery is the perfect balance between larger than life children’s entertainment and quiet, almost grave, poignancy. Each story is a history lesson and literary wonder in one, and each tale adds to the tapestry of life woven by Bambert. Not to give away the ending, but as Bambert restores his book to its full capacity, he fulfills his own life. Stories and tales are moving, living, breathing things. They heave and groan against the strain of the page, and Bambert’s Book of Lost Stories takes the wildly adventurous, thrill of a story and magics it onto the stage. Oral traditions are every bit as important as reading, and Bambert expertly regales you with the comfort of stories as you hunker down in a comfortable seat, semi-darkness drawing you close. Of course, stories change and can be re-written, so watch closely as the crew give Bambert the ending it deserves.
WHEN: 31 October – 20 November | 1pm & 6:30pm
WHERE: Octagon Theatre | University of Western Australia | CRAWLEY
INFO: Tickets $25 – $30 | Duration 75 mins | Recommended for children 8+ | Wheelchair accessible venue | Saturday 14th November is a relaxed performance