A play by Richard Tulloch. Adapted from the books by Sam McBratney and Anita Jeram. 18 Dec 2021
It’s a nice touch as two ‘gardeners’ walk on stage before the lights go down. They take their time placing leaves onto the bare branches of a windswept tree, arranging the strappy leaves of floriferous plants, and hanging a huge acorn amongst the newly minted leaves.
The narrator begins, and it’s a bit shaky at first as the levels get sorted; we can’t really hear above the music. When it settles down, we’re introduced to Little Nut Brown Hare who is busily trying to waken Big Nut Brown Hare. After all, it’s summer and there’s so much to do! Unfortunately, Little Nut Brown Hare is just not big enough yet for all the things they want to do, as Big Nut keeps reminding them.
But like all short people, they go on and on until they get their way. And so, as the tree reflects the changing seasons, so too is Little Nut’s growth reflected. With each season’s ‘guess how much I love you’ comes a response that kindles Little Nut’s sense of adventure: “I love you all the way to the river! Can we go there? No. Oh all right”. Then on to the woods, and then the hills; the tree revolves, leaves change colour, and snow falls - autumn, winter and spring each bring a new and adventurous journey for the pair.
Costuming is just lovely; Drew Wilson’s Big Nut Brown Hare’s life size but puppet-like costume reveals the actor who cleverly navigates his way through the action, working seamlessly with Catherine McNamara manipulating the smaller puppet that is Little Nut Brown Hare. The narrator assists with bird, owl, caterpillar, butterfly and frog as Little Nut goes through the seasons and the milestones.
The cast are dressed in 1930s era boy’s clothing; trousers, suspenders and knitted vests topped with cloth caps, referencing a bucolic England, a time of innocence and simplicity.
The show ends rather suddenly but with the very familiar, ‘ I love you right up to the moon and back” which is a little difficult to get to, no matter how big you are!
The books and television series delight small children, and this show adds to that. It can get a bit repetitious in places and could probably use some bright dynamics or some interactivity to keep the little ones engaged. A half-hearted song needs work but for the most part the production entertains the chatty audience.
Where: Dunstan Playhouse