During The Magic Hour at Queensland Theatre Company (QTC) we are carefully transported back to our wide-eyed youth in order to learn something new about the myths and fables that have nurtured dreams and nightmares for generations of children.
In this one-woman show now playing at QTC’s Bille Brown Studio, the utterly enchanting Ursula Yovich (Mother Courage) retells our bed-time stories from the vantage point of the other characters – these stories are not about Little Red Riding Hood, less about the Frog Prince and little about Cinderella as we take a hard-left turn at the garden gates of Brothers’ Grimm to discover who sits behind the title roles; as in real life, women, fringe dwellers and the not-quite-good-enough to be princesses often have their side of the story suppressed and left off the record or worse, told incorrectly altogether.
[pull_left]Yovich is such a warm, outreaching presence that it’s impossible to resist being swept along with her in voice and song[/pull_left]Award-winning playwright Vanessa Bates delivers an inspired and entertaining collection of twisted tales and although they remind us of those enduring fables of old, they also resemble modern cultural struggles and, thanks to Alicia Clements’ enveloping set design, it feels a little like the star-lit reaches of Australia – vast, lonely and yet somehow familiar to us all. Clements’ delightful set is a colourful gypsy caravan made from furniture odds and ends that looks like it rattled right out of a pop-up book while Joe Lui’s lighting and original music design rounded out an impressive and well balanced production.
Yovich is such a warm, outreaching presence that it’s impossible to resist being swept along with her in voice and song. As we enter the intimate theatre she welcomes us while she heats up soup on the barbeque. She makes eye contact with each and every audience member not only welcoming you to her home but into her heart as well. Her manner is so relaxed that it’s difficult to tell where she ends and the performance begins; this gentle, soothing manner created the perfect atmosphere as the audience filed quietly in and settled down for a tale (or six). Yovich doesn’t disappoint; she mystifies as she weaves in and out of characters, stories and narration and makes us feel young again. Yet she reminds us of the responsibility of being an adult; to become wholly aware of the true plight of others.
The Magic Hour plays at the Bille Brown Studio until May 31. For more information and bookings, visit the Queensland Theatre Company’s website: www.qldtheatreco.com.au.