Dive in to confront your fears

The Deep 2013 Spare Parts Puppet Theatre Photo by Jessica WyldThe cute three-year-old in the seat in front dropped in fright to the floor as a couple of blokes in snorkels and goggles “swam” out of the misty ocean of Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s The Deep.

The youngster peeped over the seat a few times after, but not even a jolly woman paddling a colourful boat, a kids’ bucket on her head, could overcome his nervousness.

Eventually dad had to take him out, leaving older brother with mum to enjoy the show.

Based on Tim Winton’s book of the same name, and directed by Spare Part’s Noriko Nishimoto, The Deep is great for most kids, just not those who are too young or easily scared.

The atmospheric “ocean”, its columns of “water” and misty, flickering lights beautifully conveys a bottomless ocean, well beyond the shallows, but I could see the silent, swimming figures, and the suggestion of the moodiness of the deeper ocean could scare a young tacker.

Older kids—five and up—were however spellbound by the tale of a young girl learning to face her fears.

Alice lives by the sea and every day her mum, dad and brother dive and bellyflop off the jetty, while Alice (wonderfully played by Katya Shevtsov) stays on shore making sandcastles, because she is afraid of the deep water.

“The Deep is a simple tale of overcoming fear, conveyed in terms easily understood by youngsters.”

She longs to join her family, to dive, splash and swim, and is angry with herself for being scared when she’s so brave otherwise.

It’s her love of dolphins that helps young Alice overcome her fear as she follows them into the deep, without realising how far out she has gone.

Initial panic turns to delight as she frolics with the dolphins and is joined by her family, her fear conquered.

The use of a fit-ball was effective in creating a sense of diving in and out of waves as Alice performed an “aquatic” ballet, joined by a variety of sea creatures, including a dolphin.

But it did go on a tad long, and adults and kids were getting restless long before the music ended.

The Deep is a simple tale of overcoming fear, conveyed in terms easily understood by youngsters.

It’s filled with colour, movement and humour—especially the antics Alice’s puppet dog Ruffy, and there’s a terrific comic routine with the dog, a crab and Alice that had adults and kids alike laughing.

And Karen Cook’s adaptation of Jan Coenraats’ lighting creates a real deep-sea magic.

The Deep is a perennial, first showing in 2001. It’s one for the kids, but adults will be far from bored.

It’s on January 6 to February 1, with performances at 10am and 1pm, with a special Christmas Eve showing at 6.30pm.

by JENNY D’ANGER

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