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Review: A Thousand Cranes at The Parks Theatre

By Carly Fisher

The Gemini Collective returns to the Adelaide Fringe with A Thousand Cranes. Many audiences will be familiar with the book by the same title that tells the story of the legend of the thousand paper cranes – fold one thousand of the majestic paper birds and your wish for good health will be granted. This is the story of Sadako Sasaki, a twelve year old in Hiroshima, living in the aftermath of the atomic bomb. Although the bomb’s initial devastation may have passed 10 years prior to this moment we watch in Sadako’s life, the devastation and loss is still at the forefront of life in Hiroshima. Sadako’s family experienced personal tragedy with the loss of Sadako’s grandmother in the bomb – now the continued effects of this dark moment in Japan’s history, will once again impact the Sasaki family.

Taking on the role of Sadako, 14 year old Madeleine Flapper shows off her dance training and impressive silk skills through this production. For such a young performer, Flapper certainly shows no fear in taking to the stage and throws herself willingly into the role and world of Sasaki. As an emerging dancer, Flapper could definitely go far and I look forward to seeing her continue to hone her talents as she matures.

In general, the show was perfect for a youth audience (there were many young children in the audience) but perhaps somewhat underwhelming for those attending without kids. The adult company members seemed reserved on stage and none of the actors seemed to have a particularly strong command of the characters or the stakes at play and I think perhaps further time in rehearsals needed to be dedicated to these aspects. Where the company excelled was in the staging of this production, each offering themselves wholeheartedly to the physicalizing of this piece. As a dance piece, this story may have been that much more captivating – the story has the perfect makings of an original ballet.

Shining in the way of physicalizing this piece, young performer Calin Diamond as Kenji, proves his talents in acrobatics and is an exciting new face to watch.

The set is simple but the production elements are strong. I liked the use of the single red arch – it gave us a sense of place and of history without being overwhelming. I also like the use of the white silks as a frame for the stage that really showcased the great space within this small theatre. For me the rotating stage was unnecessary and without the technology to automate it, I felt that the cast manually turning the stage was somewhat distracting for me. No surprise, but the use of the paper cranes were beautiful and it was majestic to see so many of them in the show – someone has been folding a lot!

The play itself, written by Kathryn Shultz Miller, does not hold up to the original book and Jennifer Trijo’s music has all the right ingredients but needs to perhaps be in the hands of stronger singers for it to truly impact the audience in the way that it is intended.

Fringe is all about giving young performers the chance to grow and develop their talents, and giving theatre companies room to experiment with new works and this production makes great use of both those opportunities.

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All opinions and thoughts expressed within reviews on Theatre Travels are those of the writer and not of the company at large.


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