Together with her magical red carpet bag, Gran (Chrissie Shaw) takes the audience on a tale of adventure, from the beaches of Byron Bay to a deep dark forest. She sings, she dances, she swoops, occasionally, on delighted members of the audience, making them shriek with laughter. And though the set is sparse, she manages to breathe life into the negative space and simple lighting to create a performance full of warmth and energy. Her bag functions not only as a static prop, but unfolds to reveal a miniature world within itself, complete with a puppet Gran and multiple tiny bags which feature in some clever sleight of hand at the show’s conclusion.
Although she warns us that the story of her carpet bag might be a little bit scary, more than anything it’s amusing. Even the story’s villain, the witchy puppet Baba Yaga, plays air guitar and is simply lonely because nobody will write her any letters. Gran’s tale is received with wide eyes by the audience, resulting in squeals of laughter and gasps of excitement. She weaves her tale with gleeful gusto, at multiple points pausing to ask her young audience to guess what’s inside a particular bag or to help her sing a particular song. Her enthusiasm and tenderness bubbles over to create a beautiful, dynamic relationship with her audience.
And for adults, there can still be some delight taken in the nuances of Gran’s storytelling, as well as the sheer cleverness of the props, especially Gran’s magical carpet bag. Alternately acting as a bottomless cornucopia of props, folding out into Chinese gardens and Australian apartment blocks and witch’s huts, the bag is a skilfully designed piece of set which only adds to Gran’s quirky mysticism. Designer Hilary Tabot is responsible for Gran’s bag, as well as several puppets which intrigued and delighted the kids. Following the show was a quick sessions allowing for Gran to answer all the kids’ questions – Is the Baba Yaga real? Who made the puppets? Why do they have such long arms? – which satisfied curiosities and allowed for a pleasant conclusion to the performance.
Thanks to Chrissie Shaw’s charming performance, Gran’s Bag is sure to enchant those young and old alike.
When: 26 Sept – 1 Oct | Monday to Friday 10:30 am & 1 pm | Saturday 1pm only
Where: King Street Theatre, Newtown NSW
Tickets: $20 – $25
Information: Duration 55 mins, suitable for children