On the ABC’s 2005 show “My favourite film”, Amelie placed second and the character’s whimsical nature prompted Judith Lucy to say “I want to crush Amelie’s head like a coconut”. There’s a point where something endearing can become overdone if there isn’t enough variety. This sums up how I feel about Arabella.
Arabella is a product of the diverse talents of Melbourne artists Tim Tropp (known to some from Klezinski), Hamish Fletcher (Men of Steel) and Malia Walsh (Circus Trick Tease). In past fringes I’ve had the opportunity to see and enjoy the last two shows and was looking forward to a mix of character and physical theatre. This outing proves to be a much more naive offering.
The show’s eponymous Arabella is introduced with promise by shadow puppetry. She is a young girl already starting to think that she will be more socially acceptable if she hides her true self. Through this she loses a part of herself, and the simple tale of the search that follows employs a repeating structure for the first 20 minutes as she fossicks through the packages that comprise the set. A discovery makes the second half of the piece much more interesting as the set reveals its potential. Given the pedigree of the show I had hoped for greater development of Arabella’s character and some more surprises.
The repetition and puppetry will make this 6:30 pm piece quite suitable for children. They will probably also enjoy – and want to join in with – the unselfconscious extended dance sequence to Architecture in Helsinki’s track “Do the Whirlwind” that concludes the piece.