Sunday 10 September 2023

SWAMP review

Created by Andy Freer and Nick Wilson, and presented by Snuff Puppets, SWAMP sends its audience into a fascinating journey into the impact humans have had on Earth's geology and ecosystems through the adventures of a number of Australian animals.

Large scale intricately designed animal puppets - including koalas, mosquitos, cane toads and lyrebirds - are bought to life by puppeteers in "short stories" of their interactions with each other and their changing environment. Varying in their humour and dramatics, each story effectively highlights their plight, and how humans have explicitly and implicitly made their homes a risk to their safety and lives.

The puppeteers show immeasurable skill in operating the puppets in a way that gives each of them their own personality and making it seem like they are real animals on stage, just much much bigger than usual. At one point we see how the performers are moving inside the puppet and be in awe of the mechanics and truly appreciating and understanding the time and effort that has gone into making these creations.

The sizeable performing space at the Drill Hall is used to its full advantage by directors Andy Freer and Rebecca Rutter, recreating Australia's great outdoors with minimal but highly creative sets that allow the animals to roam the stage and display their distinct personalities. The projection creations and operations by Andy Freer and Eben Greaves add layers to the story and heighten the surreal suspense and dread of each vignette culminating in an astouding finale. The sound design, which is a mix of music, and pre-recorded and live sound effects is used intelligently to further shape the story and build characters.

Snuff Puppets have been parading their puppets around the world for over 30 years and what they have accomplished with SWAMP is phenomenal. It's an immersive experience that delivers unforgettable imagery, strong emotional responses (both laughter and sorrow) and a remarkable evening of entertainment. It is the perfect recipe to look into our own backyard and consider the responsibility and the powerful role we have in ensuring the survival of our land and its animals.

Nick Barlow, Julian Chapple, Opal Crafter, Olivia Floate, Aidan ‘Jet’ Min,  Lachlan Plain, Rebecca Rutter, Nick Wilson and Caito Zacharias

Puppet Builders: Nick Barlow, Colleen Burke, Andy Freer, Erin Hall,  Lachlan Plain, Rebecca Rutter, Ruth Twardy and Nick Wilson 

Show Details

Venue: Footscray Drill Hall, 395 Barkly St, Footscray

Season: until 16 September | Wed - Sat 7:45pm
Duration: 60 minutes

Tickets: $40 Full | $20 Concession
Bookings: Snuff Puppets

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