Review - Laser Beak Man: a remarkable production
Helen Stephens and Jeremy Neideck work Laser Beak Man. Photo by Dylan Evans
Laser Beak Man
By David Morton, Nicholas Paine & Tim Sharp
Directed by David Morton
Music by Sam Cromack (Ball Park Music)
A La Boite, Dead Puppet Society & Brisbane Festival production in association with PowerArts
Season: September 9-30. Duration: 90 minutes without interval. Bookings: laboiteqtix.com.au
This is a remarkable production in which David Morton’s team take the cartoon creation of artist Tim Sharp and, with the magic of their puppets, turn it into a seemingly two-dimensional live cartoon with incredible backdrops and animation that grew from Sharp’s artwork.
Tim Sharp was diagnosed with autism at the age of three and basically told that he would never speak or be able to communicate.
But through his drawing he overcame his disability and when he was 11 created his silent superhero Laser Beak Man. Sharp's work garnered international attention when Laser Beak Man was turned into an eight episode animated television series screening in Australia on ABC3 TV and it was then sold to Cartoon Network Australia, New Zealand and Asia – a world first for a young man with autism to achieve.
Now his artworks are sought-after items, with exhibitions being sold out whenever they are shown.
This visually amazing creation was four years in the making and began in 2013 when the Dead Puppet Society had a show alongside one of Tim’s exhibitions at the Brisbane Powerhouse.
Since then from New York’s New Victory Theater to Brisbane to project has been in development. The show also features live music by Sam Cromack of Ball Park Music,
The story is pure comic book: Laser Beak Man and his wild and wonderful fellow characters go from kindergarten to university until someone creates a super crystal that can power the entire world for free.
Vested interests have other ideas but when the crystal malfunctions and looks likely to explode Laser Beak Man throws himself onto it to save everyone else. He emerged with super laser powers and fights for good and the safety of Power City.
That is until Peter Bartman, evil genius and Laser Beak Man’s estranged childhood friend, steals the crystals. Robbed of his super powers, Laser Beak Man must find a way to stop his oldest nemesis from destroying Power City.
The good guys fight the bad guys, good people turn bad and then revert to type and it is all told in vivid colours and amazing graphics, plus a pair of floating balloons that are remote controlled - a really spooky effect.
The puppet characters, as with all Dead Puppet Society shows, are cleverly made and very believable. There are a lot of topical references – a female Donald Trump and fights over building a wall for a couple, and the audience was often laughing uproariously at the gags and comic book humour of the script.
But for all the technical brilliance and colour it failed in one huge area.
The voices of the puppets were all pitched too high, to screaming point sometimes, and so much dialogue was inaudible in the amplification that it was difficult to follow the plot. It wasn’t that it was too loud; the band level was perfect, it was just pitched too high too often from too many characters.
I thought it might be my old ears reacting, but several people I spoke too, some much younger, said exactly the same thing. I also so found the drum beat accompaniment to several talking scenes distracting. I kept being drawn away from the play to the band.
Maybe a small adjustment could be made.