NUFONIA MUST FALLREVIEW, ADELAIDE FESTIVAL OF ARTS, 2015

Nufonia Must Fall is a pure delight; you can feel the audience smiling around you while experiencing this creative mix of music, theatre, film and puppetry. Innovative, moving and technically brilliant, it’s a show that embodies what the Festival of Arts is all about and reminds us how fortunate we are to have this on our yearly calendar in Adelaide.

On a screen we watch a live video feed of a puppet show being created on the stage below. Next to this, DJ and composer, Kid Koala creates the soundtrack for the narrative, collaborating with a string quartet. It’s all meticulously put together, with the music and sound effects blending perfectly with the action; the whole design of the show is quite impressive.

In a refreshing start, Kid Koala dispenses with stuffy theatrical convention by chatting casually with the audience and involving us in a game of visual bingo. It’s an engaging ploy and one that is made more meaningful as some of the images presented here are used later in the show. Moreover, it announces that we are a fair distance from the realm of traditional theatre, where absolute mystery is maintained until the curtain goes up and all trickery is kept from view; part of the fun of this show is that we can clearly see how the magic is being created. There is an utter lack of pretence in this production, making it an accessible and completely engaging experience.

In every aspect of this show the old meets the new. The music score is produced via a combination of the tradition string quartet and the modern tricks of a DJ; the visuals use cutting edge technology but employ the ancient art of puppetry, and the overall effect is akin to watching an old silent film. Old and new are also important motifs in the narrative, placing an old fashioned love story within a futuristic setting, where the protagonist is a robot on the verge of obsolescence.

Although this is presented as a family show, the lack of dialogue might test the concentration of the very young. Otherwise, the magic and charm of Nufonia Must Fall is sure to delight a very wide-ranging audience in a way that few shows can.

Reviewed by Matthew Trainor