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Credit: Brett Broadman

Review by Laura Money

Upon entering the grand and sweeping space of the Heath Ledger Theatre at the State Theatre Centre WA one thing becomes clear: there is a beautiful and irreverent feeling of respect for the Australian landscape. The natural wood and staggered earthy toned chairs of the audience blend perfectly with the minimalist and naturally curved set. There is a wooden structure, reminiscent of a whale skeleton, a boat, a wicker chair and some fishing paraphernalia. To the right of the stage is a beautiful representation of a midden and a wooden post. This is the world of Storm Boy.

A soundscape of the ocean reaches fever pitch. Two Aboriginal figures don the stage, in traditional poses. A didgeridoo begins to play and a great feeling of connection to land and the anticipation of a dreamtime story falls on the audience. The play starts with the young “Storm Boy” (Otis Pavlovic) scouring the beach for debris after a particularly bad storm. He is warned by his overprotective father (Julian Garner) not to be seen but fails when he meets an Aboriginal man, Fingerbone Bill (Jimi Bani.)

They form an unlikely friendship and all three of them help to rehabilitate three pelicans who were orphaned during the storm. Storm Boy is a poignant coming of age tale, it hearkens to nature, man’s place within it, familial relationships, growing up, resisting and accepting change, and embracing one’s identity.

Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company come together to provide the perfect balance of fun, simplicity and beauty. The puppetry is flawless, the pelicans really have distinct personalities! Anthony Mayor and Phil Dean Walford are more than puppeteers, they perform intimate dances as the birds, it looks and feels like a spiritual duet played with the hilarity and dignity of the moment.

Beautiful, sad, funny and with a great amount of bum jokes, Storm Boy has children giggling at one moment and sniffling at the next. Oh, and the adults, too.

Barking Gecko Theatre Company and Sydney Theatre Company presents Storm Boy playing at the State Theatre Centre WA from 4th – 11th July 2015.