‘Hide the Dog’ was action-packed.
Every parent knows the challenge of keeping kids engaged in theatre for anything less than awesome and so in that sense, youth theatre can sometimes be a gamble.
‘Hide the Dog’ was a crowd-pleasing, action-packed comedy that not only held my 10-year-old son’s attention but also had us both entertained.
Co-authored by Tasmanian playwright Nathan Maynard and Aotearoa writer Jamie McCaskill, and skillfully directed by Isaac Drandic, ‘Hide the Dog’ is an original play that follows two inseparable best friends: Niarra, portrayed by Birri-Gubba woman Najwa Adams Ebel, and Te Umuroa, played by Maori man Poroaki Merritt-McDonald, as they embark on a daring voyage to Aotearoa in a bid to hide Tigs, their new Tasmanian tiger friend, embodied by Tibian Wyles, whom they fear is in great danger in Tasmania.
Throughout their journey, Niarra and Te Umuroa encounter an array of characters who serve as cultural guides, family figures, and even formidable adversaries. These roles are brought to life with comedic flair by Elaine Crombie and Tyler Wilson Kokiri.
‘Hide the Dog’ is a rollercoaster of an adventure filled with humour, heart, and a fresh, and an original story about friendship, courage, and cultural connection that will charm every member of the family, parents included.
But don’t just take it from this grown-up reviewer, A.K.A mum. Let’s hear more from Xavier (10) about his thoughts on ‘Hide the Dog’:
Q – What was your favourite part of the play?
Everything about how the play was presented made me feel like I was right in the story: the well-crafted props, like the boat, the music and sound, smoke machine (yay!) and the super beautiful projections on the screen at the back, were so detailed. The tension had me on the edge of my seat, and I was totally caught up in all the action.
The actors were also really funny and engaging, and I loved how they spoke directly to the audience. It all felt so dynamic.
Q – Can you describe the characters Niarra and Te Umuroa? What did you like about them?
Niarra is a Palawa girl from Tasmania, and Te Umuroa is a Maori boy. I liked how they are different but still the best of friends. They bicker a lot at the start (which makes for many hilarious moments), but I think that’s because they’re both secretly a little sad and scared – Te Umuroa is moving away, and they’re being chased by hunters and evil gods. But then, they started working together as a team, combining their strengths, and kind of accepting and connecting with their culture and their ancestors more.
Q- What did you think about the Tasmanian Tiger in the play?
This was one of my favourite parts of the whole production. The actor playing the Tasmanian Tiger was surprisingly convincing as Tig, showing a range of emotions, and her costume was simple yet really effective. It had a puppetry element to it which was really cool.
In the play also we also hear a traditional Aboriginal story how how the Tasmanian Tiger was created, which I thought was quite interesting.
Q – Were there any moments in the play that made you laugh? What were they?
I laughed the whole time. The actor playing the Māori gods in particular was very funny, thanks to his crazy characters, silly costumes and his awesome stage presence generally. I felt like he was having fun on stage, so that made him fun to watch.
Also at one point, Niarra and Te Umuroa were running away from hunters, and the Tasmanian tiger stood up on its legs and started dancing. That was hilarious! The Tassie tiger also got dressed like a human baby, which was a trap for evil spirits. Every time the Tasmanian tiger did something, it was a riot.
Q – What were the Māori gods and Palawa spirits like in the play? Were they scary or friendly?
There were some evil Maori spirits, like the baby-eating crab, which was a bit scary for the younger kids, but there were also good spirits like Palawa, who created the land, oceans, and the sky. She helped Niarra and Te Umuroa on their journey through the ocean.
Q – Were there any special effects or cool stage designs that you found exciting?
When Niarra and Te Umuroa were running away from the hunters, the actors stood in one spot running while the backdrop was moving. That was pretty epic and very original – the audience even clapped at that point.
Q – Would you recommend the show to your friends?
Absolutely! Anyone over 6 or 7 who likes a good adventure story and is partial to (or doesn’t mind) a few fart jokes should see ‘Hide the Dog’. It’s a treat for kids and parents alike. It combines a clever story, fun characters, and imaginative stagecraft – it’s a guaranteed good time that will leave you with cherished memories.
‘Hide the Dog’ ran from 21-23 September 2023 at the Cremorne Theatre, QPAC as part of Brisbane Festival. For more information visit their website.