Laser Beak Man

Laser Beak Man
Written by David Morton, Nicholas Paine and Tim Sharp. Music by Sam Cromack of Ball Park Music. A Dead Puppet Society, La Boite Theatre Company and Brisbane Festival production in association with PowerArts. Presented by QPAC. Playhouse Theatre, 2 – 5 October, 2019

You’d be hard pressed to find a show more joyful, creative and innovative than Laser Beak Man. Entertaining for all ages, the script is packed with jokes for the kids mixed with more grown-up humour worded innocently enough to fly right over the little ones’ heads. Visual puns come thick and fast in a show that’s an absolute feast for the eyeballs. Your ears aren’t left out either, with a fantastic, pumping soundtrack provided by Ball Park Music. This is not your average kids’ puppet show.

The audience of the Playhouse theatre is peppered with just as many Brisbane hipsters as it is young families. In a similar vein to SpongeBob SquarePants and The Powerpuff Girls, Laser Beak Man appeals to adults with a quirky, alternative, artsy sensibility. The unbridled optimism combined with the home-made, hand drawn feel established back in 1999 by his creator Tim Sharp, results in an attractive authenticity. There’s an alluring blend of subversive political and social commentary and naïve childhood innocence in the dialogue.

The live band is surely part of the appeal too; they’re outstanding. The songs by Sam Cromack are catchy while still being a bit edgy, cool, sometimes punk, sometimes indie, and always fun. The playing is tight and extremely adept. Kids and adults can’t stop themselves from ‘chair dancing’ along to the beat of the songs.

The puppeteers are all visible, which in the case of this show adds an extra level of fun to the performance. The performers have a knack of drawing focus away from themselves and to the puppets when required, then revealing the actor behind for moments of humour such as funny facial expressions and other sight gags. The only slightly confusing choice is the dialogue delivered in an American accent, since the eponymous character and show are Australian in origin. The comedic timing and ability to build empathy is unquestionably good and all actors really give it everything they’ve got.

What’s really mind-blowing is the visual and technical artistry behind the show. The use of digital set design is so ingenious; creating a 3D effect and moving with the characters when they travel. Drone-powered balloons also add an exciting visual and technical element, zooming over the audience and interacting with the action on stage and screens. All of these elements beautifully showcase the creativity and colour of Tim Sharp’s drawings and characters.

This heroic tale sends great messages about friendship, forgiveness and bravery. Hands down this is one of the best things we’ve seen all year. Laser Beak Man will fill your heart and soul with boundless joy, rainbows, cupcakes, and ponies.

Kiesten McCauley

Photo credit: Dylan Evans Photography

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