‘Erth’s Prehistoric World’ was staggering.
The Brisbane Powerhouse came alive these school holidays with prehistoric creatures. Erth Visual & Physical Inc presented a showcase of two marvellous worlds: from the deepest depths of the sea to the ancient land of the dinosaurs.
The 55-minute educational production showcased a variety of lifelike puppetry and creatures, while educating the audience with fascinating facts and figures. The show ended with inspirational messages about discovery, nature and conservation of the beautiful animals which grace our planet – which are causes that highlight the theatre company’s mission and values.
Erth Visual & Physical Inc are innovators in visual and physical theatre, renowned for their touring puppetry productions which often feature dinosaurs. The Brisbane Powerhouse served as the perfect intimate venue for this production, with the brick cyclorama adding a touch of history to the piece.
Lighting design by Frankie Clarke was exceptional. The use of coloured lights enhanced the realism of the puppets. The moment when the audience was taken from watching a fish tank on stage to being in the ocean was spectacular, fully immersive and the standout moment in the show. Lighting, sound and fog effects combined in perfect harmony to create a multi-sensory and captivating transition.
The soundscape by Phil Downing was unobtrusive yet powerful, with low base notes that vibrated through the seats heralding the entry of the dinosaurs. This incited suspense and anticipation, especially for the children in the audience. AV technician Rick Everett did an outstanding job with the technical aspects of the show, matching the lighting, music and dinosaur sound effects seamlessly with the puppeteers’ movements.
The show, devised and directed by Scott Wright and designed by Steve Howarth certainly met the brief of ‘interactive’. Prehistoric fish swam up and over audience members, dinosaurs reached their necks far and wide and multicoloured organisms were passed into the audience. This meant that no matter where the audience members were seated, they were part of the immersive experience.
A number of child volunteers were brought on stage for a variety of up close interactions with the dinosaurs. The brave kids did a wonderful job at wrangling the creatures and one even had their head inside a dinosaur’s mouth. It was clear from the chatter amongst the seats that the children were consistently amazed by the spectacle on stage.
The host, Sammie Nicolaou was upbeat, energetic and engaging and effectively led the show. However, at times, the facts she presented were particularly advanced and perhaps went over the heads of the children and some of the adults for that matter. She had a genuine rapport with the children volunteers and assisted them with care..
The puppeteers Albert David, Michael Ho, Sam Lowbridge and Keila Terencio did an outstanding job with their physical representation of the creatures. The sea creatures in particular had an organic movement that was incredibly realistic. The cast was small and credit must be given to their ability to quickly transform in order to fulfil the variety of quirky creatures they embodied.
The puppets themselves were beautifully constructed, with fine details and dynamic facial features. They were works of art in themselves, made from a variety of materials to convey texture and movement. Their size and scale was impressive and they had a commanding stage presence.
Overall, ‘Erth’s Prehistoric World’ offered an immersive, educational and captivating production. The use of lighting and sound created visual effects that were polished, unexpected and powerful. The show featured moments of breath-taking visual beauty and interactive entertainment which managed to hold an audience of both children and adults captive.
For information on Erth’s upcoming productions, visit their website.