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Brisbane review – Puffs: Breathes Young Magic into Theatre

By Lilian Harrington


Production: Puffs

Writer: Matt Cox

Company: Villanova Players Start -Up Theatre.

Director: Lillian Dowdell and Kristina Redwood

Location: The Ron Hurley Theatre

29 Tammawood St. Seven Hills

Limited Season: 19 April - 29April

Bookings: try booking or call 423920832


Start Ups an initiative by young members of Villanova Players (V.P.), is proving to be a great opportunity for the younger V.P. members to strut their stuff on stage. It has drawn good audiences from the community and further afield who want to support the cast and their team. Start Ups encourages younger  members, aged  between 16 - 30 years old, to work on their own productions and develop every aspect of their theatre skills. As Lillian Dowdell, the driving force behind this   initiative, said, “Start Ups allows emerging creatives an opportunity to explore directing, acting, writing, stage management, and more.” Puffs by Matt Cox, provides an  exciting  vehicle  for these  emerging  artists to explore their talents and skills.  What better opportunity than a production about magic and young magicians to walk the boards and sprinkle their magic!

American playwright, Matt Cox is known for his acting, improvisation work, sound effects, and interest in comics. He has written Puffs a comedy, which is about a young boy called Wayne (played by Jackson Paul), who goes to a certain Wizard School for seven eventful years and is assigned to the Puffs along with a group of other young wizards. The Puffs are seen as the dumb kids and are made fun of by the others, however, although they look like unlikely heroes they prove to have the metal   and show that they can be leaders, who can fight evil and win using their magic!  Puffs is a story about anyone who is destined to save the world. Cox considers the unlikely hero and the idea that even if someone has never had a magical experience before, they can still be important in their own way and become their own hero! It is written in a comedic style which demands a good audience reaction.

The play was directed by Vice President, Lillian Dowdell and Kristina Redwood; they guided their talented large cast into a tightly controlled ensemble which showed: fluency, pace, slapstick and team work. The fast timing, energy and confident dialogue, along with quick throw -away lines, meant that the modern audience responded without hesitation. Although, at times the diction and sound was not always as clear as it could be, whic made it harder to follow the story, but maybe that was in part due to the acoustics and building structure.

The young players showed a range of skills. The standouts of special note were: Cullin Beckton who played a range of characters such as Ernie Mac Track. While Cedric (Sam Connolly), made the scene shine, along with J. Finch Track (Dom Bradley), Susie Track (Hannah Martin) and Leanne Track (Grace Lashbrook), who played a range of characters in supporting roles. Hannah Martin, Grace Lashbrook and Almee Sheather all showed their vocal capabilities and successfully mastered different vocal levels and accents as needed.

The set and lighting plot was simply designed with a raised platform that had a symbolically dressed wall with curtained up-stage entrances, plus those left and right which created a variety of exits for the most part. It was hard at times to see all the action when it was at floor level, especially when the Puffs were seated downstage in class, but overall the movement was fluent and well-organised and cues were spot on! It is exciting to see the Start Ups initiative at V.P.with .Puffs which breathes young magic into theatre.


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