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Words: Robert Parker-White

Kellyanne’s friends, Pobby and Dingan, are missing in the Australian Outback. When Kellyanne becomes sick, its up to her brother – 12 year old Ashmol – to find them and make her better. He manages to rally the whole of Lightning Ridge to search for them! Only one problem; her friends are invisible.

Created by multi-award winning theatre company Catherine Wheels, known for their high quality work for young audiences, Lightning Ridge uses a small set, a variety of props and one performer – Catherine Wheels Artistic Director, Gill Robertson.

Decorating the set are exciting objects; stools, buckets, a projector, an old bike, a ladder and a pair of boots. From the offset storytelling techniques are exceptionally well-crafted; gigantic boots tip minutes worth of sand out onto the floor and take us to Lightning Ridge. Four stones represent characters in the show, then lots more stones are tipped onto the floor to symbolize the people of the town. Projections add very little to this piece, but it is clear Catherine Wheels have a wealth of sensory tricks up their sleeve that engage children and fire up the imagination. And such is the essence of this piece; the innate potential of our imagination.

Aimed at ages 8+ it speaks on a level with children keeping them engaged throughout. There are few laughs in Lightning Ridge and some unanswered questions. But it challenges our expectations – you have to work hard to follow the narrative, particularly with character and accent changes. Based on the book by Ben Rice, this is a story about community, the potential of our imaginations and ultimately dealing with loss.

Lightning Ridge
Summerhall, Main Hall
17-20 Aug


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