Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Peter Best

Goldilocks and the Three Bears by Peter Best.  Centrepiece Theatre: Director, Set Designer and Costume Designer – Jordan Best; Lighting Designer – Kelly McGannon.  at The Q, Queanbeyan Performing Arts Centre, January 19-24, 2016.

Musical Cow – Matthew Webster
Daddy Bear – Jim Adamik
Mummy Bear – Kiki Skountzos
Baby Bear – Tim Sekuless
Goldilocks – Amy Dunham

Reviewed by Frank McKone
January 24

There’s a great sense of family revival in this witty but nice show.

Endearing and now enduring, Peter Best’s morality musical for the under-eights began its life as a grandfatherly gesture back in the day, 2011.  After its Canberra debut, Centrepiece took the Bear Family to Sydney’s Bondi Pavilion in 2012, and have now brought it back to dearly beloved Queanbeyan, with Amy Dunham as the best snoring Goldilocks – in Baby Bear’s bed, of course.

She also wore golden shoes that matched those of a littly, discovered in the post-show meet-the-cast (still very much in costume) gathering.  For both Goldilocks and Goldilette it seemed like a surprise meeting of Cinderellas – and better than plain old glass slippers.

What happened in the foyer after the show was as important for the children and their parents as their enjoyment and engagement in the show on stage.  The Best family’s Bear Family cleverly turn the old cautionary folk tale into one of respect for difference and diversity – just the ticket for the new Australian of the Year, David Morrison.  And it’s about how to say ‘sorry’ when you’ve eaten all of someone else’s porridge.  That’s another story for an Australia Day.

I guess this Goldilocks and the Three Bears will never be a serious money-turner, like other children’s theatre – say, the Gary Ginnivan or Dora the Explorer extravanzas.  It wasn’t written with that kind of purpose, and its strength lies in keeping its audience small (in both senses) and being with the children after the stage performance, as friends and as actors in costume and improvising in character.  I caught Jim Adamik having a great conversation with a young lad – not as anything like that other bear of very little brain (dear old Pooh!), but as a Daddy Bear genuinely interested in a little boy’s story of things that had happened to him.  A very modern model of a Daddy Bear, in fact.

Of course, the heart of this success is the delicate scripting, lyrics writing and music composing by Peter Best.  I say ‘delicate' because it is so carefully written – meaning full of care for the children watching and responding.  And Jordan Best’s directing picked up that delicacy for her actors, who all responded in kind.  I could also say, in kindness.

From little things, big things grow – so I rather hope that this Best version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears will expand its reach, go further afield.  Perhaps it could become a franchise for small-scale non-profit theatre companies to put on in their local communities around the country and beyond.  I think that would be nice.