It’s the classic hero’s journey. After circumstances beyond his control erode his current comfort level, Sinbad is launched into a life of taking risks and embracing adventures because he has nothing more to lose. On the way he discovers his own strength of character is enough to keep him safe and rescue his friends.
This original play by Les Winspear is based on the story from Arabian Nights. It contains songs, choreographed dances and musical instruments — all with a cast of just five!
We visited Hobart’s Royal Botanical Gardens this morning to watch Big Monkey Theatre’s production of Sinbad the sailor. Written by Australian playwright Les Winspear, Sinbad is performed by a cast of five on a very simple stage under the trees at the garden. Props are minimal, but several of the costumes are amazing.
I was quite startled when the instruments first came out and the cast burst into song. It simply wasn't what I was expecting.
Sinbad quickly enchanted the girls and the other children sitting around us. While the script contains elements clearly aimed at children (fart jokes, slapstick humour), there are enough choice cultural puns to keep the adults laughing.
The props are subtly modified to create new sets, and at various times new characters emerge in different costumes and with different accents. I liked the captain's Caribbean accent.
A monkey in a life-jacket? Again, this inclusion was a complete surprise and was met with general hilarity from the audience.
Forty-five minutes into the production, a neat intermission is offered by moving the audience to a new location within the botanical gardens.
The actors occasionally moved to the side to provide sound effects with live instruments. I enjoyed the homage to Indiana Jones that was played on a melodica.
The musical numbers within Sinbad are full of clever puns and cultural references. The cast sometimes play instruments or beat-box the rhythm while others sing the main parts. The songs were short enough to keep us entertained without boring us.
The appearance of a pair of cows quickly became a crowd favourite. The simple headdress is enhanced by exaggerated bovine acting to complete the illusion.
The complexity of the ogre's costume reveals the professionalism of this little production company. (When he turns around, the top of his green bottom crack is visible!)
By standing still and presenting the ogre with the smell of fresh cowpats, the humans foil its hunting attempts.
A serpent costume is beautifully carried off.
The cast of Sinbad performed impeccably, with only a few falterings in the delivery of lines, and most are quite good singers. They changed their accents along with their costumes, which made it easier to believe the simple clothes-change resulted in a new person.
Of course, the resolution at the end is a cheerful affair.
And it all ends as it started — with a song-and-dance routine.
I loved Sinbad, and the girls did too. If you’re in Hobart and looking for a fantastic entertainment experience, this is probably your current best value for money. The unusual setting, the clever story, the professional cast and costumes and the entertaining songs will get you laughing and clapping as you marvel at the talent Tasmania has to offer.