Last Wednesday, matinee day for most theatres, we became a paper audience. Just by being in the right place at the right time we saw two spectacular shows that needed "bums on seats".
In the morning we saw Walking with Dinosaurs. Based on the original BBC television series it features teams of puppeteers and drivers operating life-size dinosaurs prowling around the arena in a hazy atmosphere created with a minimalist set, inflatable plants and palm trees and very effective lighting.
Brachiosaurus was the tallest, Ankylosaurus the most armoured and the T-rex the most 'maternal' for a roaring, 14 metres tall, 5 tonne monster.
These beasties were Life size and Loud, the detail of the skin and facial features was precise and their movements were fluid and lifelike. A few children were frightened - more by the sound effects and atmospherics, but most of the audience was enthralled.
It is an impressive Australian production with all 15 mechanically-driven dinosaurs being built locally and it is set to tour worldwide at the end of the Australian season. I hope it does very, very, well. It was a professional, well produced show that wasn't subject to the usual excesses of many arena events.The Lost and Found Orchestra, on the other hand, was an entertaining show burdened by an oversize rig and a complicated set. I may be a little biased because I spent several days working on the show and was probably too familiar with it, but it seemed to lack the energy of the first Stomp production I worked on.
The end result of all the hardware and scaffolding in the air was fairly pedestrian. The word was that they were trialling it for an American tour - how off-Broadway can you get? For a supposedly touring rig it took a long time bumping in, it was fiddly to rehearse and it's going to take a lot to get out.
That's the trouble with giving tickets to people like me - we spend more time staring at the rig and the set than we do enjoying the performance! Oh well, Busman's Holiday ....