Posts Tagged ‘nicholas paine


Laser Beak Man

Laser Beak Man

Brisbane Festival, La Boite Theatre Company & Dead Puppet Society

In Association With PowerArts

The Roundhouse

September 9 – 30 2017


Reviewed by Xanthe Coward



Laser Beak Man is a triumph on so many levels.


The mute titular superhero is the creation of Tim Sharp, diagnosed with autism at age three (now twenty-nine). His mum, Judy Sharp (Associate Producer), refused to believe advice from the experts – that her son would never speak or emote – igniting instead of ignoring, his passion for drawing. Sharp’s colourful world eventually became an 8-episode animated television series and now, thanks to David Morton and Nicholas Paine, the brains behind the award winning Dead Puppet Society, in close collaboration with NYC’s New Victory Theater, a 90-minute vivid and heartwarming stage show.



Known for their acclaimed productions incorporating beautifully realised puppets (The Wider Earth, Argus and The Harbinger), Morton and Paine collaborated with Sharp and Sam Cromack of Brisbane indie band Ball Park Music (Daniel Hanson, Dean Hanson and Luke Moseley). Sharp’s hilarious visual puns paired with Cromack’s original compositions, slightly reminiscent of the Beatles, create the technicolour world of Laser Beak Man, complete with the first free-flying Air-Orbs in the history of Australian theatre. One seems evil, like a Big Brother eye, and the other a friendlier vessel, for escaping and venturing off into the world. For Brisbane Festival and La Boite to premiere this family friendly, wholly entertaining and life affirming production is a coup.



The show is deceptively small and dark to start, contained within a black box built high on stage in the traditional orientation, without a hint of colour or drama or finesse. But suddenly, as the plot demands, the black is whisked away and like waking up in Oz, or stepping into Willy Wonka’s chocolate room, we’re treated to the digital visual spectacle of Laser Beak Man’s Power City (Design Jonathan Oxlade & Projection Design Justin Harrison with Sound by Tony Brumpton and Lighting by Jason Glenwright).

Power City was once the most beautiful city in the world – clean, pure, perfect – and local hero Laser Beak Man worked hard to keep it that way.

Drawing energy from the underground Magna Crystals that powered the city, his beak-shot lasers turned bad things to good. But now the city isn’t what it used to be and Laser Beak Man is thoroughly over it. That is until his estranged childhood friends Peter Batman and Evil Emily return and steal the Magna Crystals. Robbed of his super powers, Laser Beak Man has one last chance to reinvent Power City and save his oldest buddies before they destroy everything.



So the premise is a simple superhero story – Laser Beak Man and his friends must work together to overcome evil and save the world! – but the visual splendour and the cheeky characters inhabiting this place (and the talented artists who bring them to life on stage) are simply extraordinary. The cast comprises Nathaniel P. Claridad, Jeremy Neideck, Lauren Jackson, Jon Riddleberger, Betsy Rosen, Helen Stephens and Maren Searle, with a special guest appearance from Leigh Sales, her pre-recorded voice and her animated likeness anyway, as the Reporter. There’s not a weak link among them, and in a superior display of collective skill and connection, there are often up to three or four ensemble members manipulating a single puppet.



The script bubbles over with lovely silly comedy and some of our favourite puns include a series of terribly funny tomato puns, including the slightly vain hope after several minutes of them, that the projection designer doesn’t run out of tomato puns! Poppy forgets to continue reading the captions sliding by beneath the action and when I tell her later she laughs. She says, IT’S A KIDS’ SHOW BUT IT’S FOR ADULTS! There’s really something for everyone: while its innocence is refreshing, and totally fine for the kids (recommended for 8+), there are plenty of political references for the millennials and parentals.


Laser Beak Man, a Brisbane Festival highlight, is a delight for all the family, full of joy and optimism, and very obviously originating from the simple goodness of genuine hearts able and willing to turn their creative talents / superpowers into making the world a better place through good old fashioned high-tech theatrical storytelling.


ARGUS – magic in miniature



Brisbane Powerhouse

Dead Puppet Society

Visy Theatre

26 – 30 June 2013


Reviewed by Poppy Eponine & Xanthe Coward


“Argus is like making something from nothing. You can give a three-year-old an iPad and they’ll have fun with it but you can take it away and give them a cardboard box and they’ll still have fun. Argus is the cardboard box.”

Troy Armstrong Powerkids Festival Producer


This week I wrote about Taipei’s Museum of Miniatures, and unpacked a heap of Poppy’s tiny precious toys (yes, we moved house during the final weekend of the Noosa Long Weekend! Stupido!), and could not for the life of me remember where I’d packed the Swarovski. I’m not a real collector; I just love little glass creatures (I know, call me Blue Roses. I just finished those ed notes for the teachers too! It was a big week!), so I’ve been thinking lately about the small stuff. The small stuff makes us stop and think and feel for a moment. The small stuff is important. Today Poppy and I enjoyed a small gift- we got up early, made pancakes for breakfast and went to see a beautiful little show called ARGUS, which is destined for a much bigger – global – audience.


In terms of its theatricality, ARGUS is the real thing; it’s old-school “analogue” magic in miniature, created from scratch by David Morton and the innovative team at Dead Puppet Society. Best known for The Harbinger, these guys have PIMPED THEIR HANDS, trumping Jim Henson’s Helping Hands (and you KNOW how much I love Labyrinth!), creating delightful characters and a story to win hearts all over the world.




Beneath a sky of party light stars a great wheel sits, and the musicians take their places on either side. With their original score, Topology (coincidentally, about to take off on a “Ten Hands” tour to launch their album of the same name) provides the perfect soundscape, along with the performers’ vocal effects (no discernible words), to the journey taken by a couple of characters within a plot that’s vaguely reminiscent of Wall-E, and just as sweet. After a brief, warp-speed history of the evolution of life on Earth, we meet Argus, who finds a friend, offers her a teeny-tiny pinwheel flower, and loses her just as suddenly to the rubbish truck, after a maniacal character sporting sunnies and wielding a spade, crashes their yard party and disposes of them all. Argus manages to escape this dismal fate and becomes our hero, searching everywhere for his new friend and their party guests, finding them eventually in the rubbish dump. It’s a case of make the best of what you have, and the implication is that they clean up the place in which they’ve found themselves and start again from scratch. As long as they’re together, everything is alright. ROCK ON!


An enormous wheel, which forms the basis of the set, simply and cleverly provides multiple settings, and as a frame, enables us to focus on the action within it. In less than two minutes (it takes most people at least six to ten minutes to tune into Shakespeare), our eyes settle on the hands of the performers, and we find ourselves immersed in the magical miniature world of ARGUS.


ARGUS was so sweet and sad. It was a big adventure for a little guy.



It had a happy ending – I love happy endings – but it got freaky (when he was on the wire) and at some points it was sad, because he lost his friend. The hand monsters kissed each other and their eyes were sparkling because when you put electric to electric you might be able to form a fire. And they did, they created fire like in The Croods, and it gave him the same fright! He hurt his melting metal fingers!


They made the show with mystical magic hands and bits of robots. Their eyes were lights and they worked together to get all the pieces together, you know, their hands, to make the magical, mystical creatures. He looked like a bulldozer.



A shooting star came through the sky, like a light bulb but I know it was supposed to be a magical egg from the sky. When the egg hatched a few minutes later there was another egg coming from the sky and he made friends with that egg. Then a mean person came along and put his friends in a bin. He was left all alone and he chased the rubbish truck all over the Earth and sky, and into space and all the way back to find his friends. Finally he jumped in a rubbish bin and a few seconds later the rubbish truck came to collect the rubbish! With him IN IT! He was tipped out with the rubbish into the dump, and he was crying. And then he stopped crying and started breathing because he heard a little friend – it was his friend – and they set up their own little dump party. They were happy where they were, even though it wasn’t where they started.


They were happy as long as they were together.



It was funny when they kissed! The music was freaky and sometimes it was very beautiful. It suited wherever they went. It didn’t matter that there were no words; it was easy to know what was happening because you knew how the monsters were feeling from their bright eyes and the music. It was good to see the musos. We don’t always get to see the musos. Daddy is talking about hiding the musos for his show in the dressing rooms and putting the sound through the speakers. He already did that once before so he says it’s easy and it’s just because there’s no space for them on stage with all those dancers so they have to be hidden. But they should come out for their curtain call. DEFINITELY.


Mummy talked to Nic about what the plans are for this show and I think it should go to theatres everywhere too because kids everywhere would LOVE IT!