Silo Theatre's wonderfully inventive version of Prokofiev's musical fairy tale features a dazzling combination of puppetry, video projection and live music.
With all the elements in plain sight director Sophie Roberts has extended on the educative purpose of Peter & the Wolf which was originally conceived as a way of introducing youngsters to the instruments of the orchestra.
Leon Radojkovic's lively updating of the score retains an easy identification between the fairy-tale characters and their musical motifs. Harsh guitar riffs signal the threatening presence of the wolf, a jaunty vibraphone evokes the playfulness of the cat, a quirkily quacking synthesizer represents the waddling duck and Peau Halapua's sinuous violin captures the familiar string motif of the courageous hero.
In addition to the musical education a superb team of puppeteers and video technicians offer a delightful demonstration of how theatrical illusions are created. The puppeteers work their magic over a small-scale stage that is filmed and projected in real time onto a large screen which also carries feeds from hand-held cameras swooping over intricately constructed dioramas of locations in the central city.
The puppeteer's art is beautifully revealed with the flick of a wrist causing a little bird's wings to flutter and well-timed jerks on nylon cords bringing the puppets to life with touching displays of emotion.
It is equally intriguing to watch the lighting effects unfold, with dancing torch-light conjuring-up a circling helicopter and a twisted strip of Christmas lights representing cars whizzing around a motorway junction at night.
The show ends with an invitation to meet the puppets and inspect the dioramas, and the enthusiasm of the response shows a generation that has grown up with ready-made digital worlds is still able to engage with the imaginative enchantments of hand-crafted illusions.
What: Peter and the Wolf, Silo Theatre
Where & when: Herald Theatre, until December 9; Peter and the Wolf will be at the NZ Festival in Wellington, March 14 - 18