Among the razzle-dazzle of the big shows, the Auckland Arts Festival always throws up some hidden gems like

Waves

, an enchanting story about a young girl who develops a passion for swimming and finds fulfillment by trusting in the power of her own ingenuity.

Written and performed by Alice Mary Cooper, it delivers an object lesson on how the art of story-telling can transport us into another world. A deft combination of voice, movement and music conjures up the sheer joy of plunging into the sea while the story playfully blurs the boundaries between truth and fiction.

Cooper sets the scene with a striking description of a nurse-aid stumbling across an eccentric old woman taking a midnight swim in the aquatic therapy pool of an Edinburgh hospice. She then lures us into suspending belief even when the action takes on a distinctly surreal flavour. The unfolding life story has flights of pure fancy mingling with historical information about the great Australian Olympic swimmer Fanny Durac.

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The Little Mermaid story is a touchstone throughout the show and as with the Hans Christian Andersen fable there is an inspiring message on the value of overcoming fear and moving outside our comfort zone. The 50-minute running time is ideally suited for young children while wry humour and a finely crafted performance provide plenty for adults to enjoy.

What: Waves

Where: Q Theatre Loft, to Sunday, March 13.