Based on true stories of child immigrants sent to Australia, this performance takes us from the Quays of London onto a voyage of discovery and into the imagination of Jennifer Larkin. Driven from the war torn city, orphaned Jennifer is sent down under by her Uncle Jack, who has fallen on hard times, in the hopes of her having a better future. The long and lonely journey at sea fuels Jennifer’s imagination to create a fantastical world inspired by the people around her to assuage her feelings of abandonment.
Drawn into her world and encouraged to become another soul on board, the audience are regaled and enthralled in promenade style to the highest level by Powderkeg. Supported with wonderful music, singing and the use of puppets along the way the show is a masterpiece of creativity. The ensemble is a truly harmonious group that deserve this commanding tale to sail them to success.
Matt Ian Kelly is sublime as Miss Critchley the monstrous teacher, spine chillingly frightening before adroitly showing a softer side beneath the starch veneer. Andrew Hayler has a fantastic comic flair, is naturally gifted and born to entertain. His Captain is convivial and inclusive, offering a safe and friendly passage for his passengers and audience alike. Cat Mackenzie as Jennifer is convincing in her portrayal, deftly unfolding the story without being saccharine and at times reminds me of Jane Horrocks. The multi-talented Tomas Gisby as Uncle Jack is adorable and his musical score is both catchy and captivating. He is ably assisted by the effervescent and chirpy Amy Mallet and Beth Clarke, steering the audience and providing a supportive and necessary element to the piece.
Peter Bramley’s direction works brilliantly for this devised show engaging the audience interactively from the start. The staging is ingenious in its use of the space and works beautifully, especially for the porthole visitors along the way like the Vikings and the fishes.
This is an absolute must see show; theatre really doesn’t get much better than this inspired production which is emotional, entertaining and enchanting. Quite simply put, Powderkeg’s perfect premiere production.