This review originally appeared on www.australianstage.com.au
Africa is a story of the resilience of children, of their ability to move into a fantasy world, to create new lives from tales on television and clutter in toy rooms. It is a story of neglected children, the painful life they lead; their struggle and the struggle of their mother, loving, yet leading a chaotic life and in an abusive relationship.
Alone in the house, again, two sisters and their next-door neighbour, sheltering from the abuse he endures back home, are given over to the electronic babysitter – the television. There they watch pictures of African wildlife: the balletic pink flamingo, the strong leopard, the baby zebra. As they watch, they are transfixed by the beauty of it all, of the beauty of a world with no adults, a world where children can do as they please.
As they are transfixed, the cluttered room (design Clare Britton and Bridget Dolan, props and set dressing Tim Mcgraw) begins to change, as up from one of the many levels on the set rises a great pink flamingo, created out of pieces of toys. Throughout the piece, the puppetry of the child characters is accented by the use of “found” items to create the African world the children imagine.