The Rabbits

2 November 2015 | 12:56 pm | Stephanie Liew

"The wow factor of the visual aspect alone is enough reason to see the production."

Adaptor and director John Sheedy has translated writer John Marsden and illustrator Shaun Tan's remarkable children's book The Rabbits for the stage brilliantly. Tan's magical imagery is replicated in Gabriela Tylesova's set design - a fantastical pop up-book brought to life in vibrant colours and otherwordly shapes - and in her costume design, which had the actors wearing mascot-like costumes that from afar look like detailed, oversized puppets. The wow factor of the visual aspect alone is enough reason to see the production. Then add to that the sound: composer Kate Miller-Heidke and librettist Lally Katz have created wondrous (and catchy!) songs based off of Marsden's allegorical tale about the colonisation of the Marsupials' land by the Rabbits that feel quintessentially Australian yet universal. Katz's offbeat humour and earnestness shine through the lyrics. The strong cast (with a solid representation of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander actors as the Marsupials) imbue the songs with comedy and poignancy where needed, as well as exquisite harmonies that swell across the whole theatre. Miller-Heidke herself (as narrator Bird) drops jaws with her operatic soprano vocals. Special mention should also go to David Leha, whose voice is so rich and deep it's almost tangible, and the orchestra, who simply cannot be faulted.   

Watching this show as an adult feels like getting the best of both worlds, as we're able to be completely absorbed in what children might see as a dark fairy tale, yet are aware of the real-life injustices the tale is based on. Essential viewing for all ages.