By Eric Scott
Shaun the Sheep’s Circus Show
Produced by Circa Contemporary Circus and Aardman Studios
Directed by Yaron Lifschitz
Queensland Performing Arts Centre
Season: runs until March 21. Duration: one hour 40 with interval. Bookings: www.qpac.com.au or 136 246
I don’t know whose idea it was the combine Circa acrobats with the plasticine characters from the Shaun the Sheep kids TV show, but whoever it was deserves a few medals. The mix was magical for children and adults alike.
The last time I watched children's television was to see Sophie Monk's Cartoon Corner. Boy how things have changed. Claymation has come a ,long way.
This production projects Shaun as a sheep who will lead the farmyard flock into all sorts of scrapes and scraps, turning peace in the valley into mayhem in the meadow. Whether they’re tormenting the weary postman or escaping a runaway tyre, Shaun and his pals run rings around their poor sheepdog Bitzer and the oblivious Farmer.
Circa Contemporary Circus, one of the world’s leading performance companies has joined forces with multi-award winning animation studio Aardman to create this new circus-theatre production for audiences from three years of age upwards.
It delighted me as the sheep-costumed acrobats dived, climbed and tumbled across the stage. They did classic circus tricks just as efficiently in their body-restricting costumes as they do in spangles and leotards.
Add to this pantomime comedy, colourful video projection of the television animation on a huge screen created by Craig Wilkinson from Optikal Bloc, and short sequences of stories cleverly designed so they would not overwhelm the attention span of the youngsters in the audience.
And there were plenty of them as they filled the Lyric theatre with giggles, chortles and screams of laughter. Rarely have I seen so many children behave so well in a theatre. This of course was because the show was tailored to them.
Director Yaron Lifschitz and the Circa Ensemble capture all the sophisticated and challenging elements of Circa’s extreme physicality at the same time capturing the magic, the fun, humour and playfulness found in the world of Shaun the Sheep.
Scenic Designer Dan Potra and Costume Designer Libby McDonnell with simplicity and imagination created a theatrical world for Shaun and his flock to inhabit, as they mixed the dimensions of animation, stage, film and live acrobatics, aided by a great score from Composer/Sound Designer Jethro Woodward and Lighting Designer Jason Organ.
It was one of those shows that is so entertaining it seems to be over almost before it begins. The two 40 minute acts just flew by. The second act was even more fun than the first when, after breaking the Farmer’s TV remote, proceed to film themselves as a circus and relay it direct to his TV set. This gave the acrobats more leeway for circus, with ribbons, ropes, trapeze and all the other tricks of the circus trade. And yet they still maintained the humour and stayed in character.
Throughout the show, which is performed without a single line of spoken word- just a few baahs from the sheep and gobbledegook from the humans - and yet the stories were perfectly told.
After the Brisbane season the show goes on our tour to Cairns Performing Arts centre, MECC Auditorium, MECC – Mackay, Regent Theatre – Melbourne and Illawarra Performing Arts Centre, Wollongong.
Don’t miss it.