Inspired by EE Cummings’ poem of the same name, the 40-minute show opened on Tuesday to a packed audience at the Space Theatre, where the stage was set with a giant moon backdrop.
The helium balloons used for most of the performance are a pearlesque lemon shade and there’s some digital lighting to add visual interest and depth. The electronic musical score also complements the ethereal tone of the show.
The two players - Katrina Lazaroff and Robert Griffin – jump around the stage trying to steal balloons from each other. Balloons float away, only to be replaced by sand-weighted ones falling from the ceiling; there is also an impressive human-sized ball-come-balloon that rolls around on stage for a bit.
The actors establish a playful mood, moving from one “game” or type of balloon interaction to another. They are whimsical as they explore the giant balloon, and mischievous as Lazaroff repeatedly teases Griffin by offering him her balloon, only to whisk it away at the last moment.
The pair also demonstrate how helium balloons tied to long strings can, en masse, be used to make different patterns and structures. At a later point in the show, small water-weighted balloons are treated as though they are bunnies.
Essentially, the young audience is shown that with a bit of imagination, a balloon can be whatever you want it to be.
The Moon’s a Balloon is a nice piece of children’s entertainment trying to convey a message of finding wonder in simplicity – but it is perhaps too simple in a world where children are accustomed to the bright lights, songs and comedy of the likes of The Wiggles, Peppa Pig and Minions. The show needs more diversity between the “games” and extra energy to make it shine; there’s not enough excitement and innovation to fully engage all its target audience.
The production is aimed at children aged three to eight, but there’s a vast difference in attention spans and interest between these ages, and it’s probably better suited to those around four to six. Children of this age did laugh at the appropriate moments, but younger children were restless throughout.
My three-year-old companion was excited about going to the performance, but it wasn’t enough to hold her attention.
The Moon’s a Balloon is playing at the Space Theatre, Adelaide Festival Centre, until April 23.
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