The Bookbinder

Trick of the Light presents a charming and an enjoyable addition to your afternoon in the form of The Bookbinder. A one-man show performed by Ralph McCubbin Howell, the show tells the story of an apprentice to a bookbinder who insists on rushing with his work. This results in a menacing run-in with a particularly vicious book and the young boy becomes trapped in its story with no easy way of escape.

The story itself is a satisfying journey through the book and into the very nature of books

Howell’s performance is warm and engaging, balancing the roles of storyteller and multiple characters expertly. He enraptured the children in the front row with ease. The script is similarly friendly, occasionally snapping away from the action with amusing quips to break the tension when the script delves into darker territory. The story itself is a satisfying journey through the book and into the very nature of books. Children will easily be able to follow the story without trouble.

The use of props is simple but effective. A light and the top of the gramophone make a perfect monster for the story, complemented by an effective musical soundscape by Tane Upjohn Beatson. The use of a pop-up book to tell parts of the story is also a very effective technique, providing a visual anchor to the words of the storyteller. A criticism would be that many of the puppet figures used were quite small and would have been increasingly difficult to see from the back of the auditorium. The show bills itself as intimate but could perhaps have adapted better to the sight challenges of this particular space.

The Bookbinder is recommended to anyone in need of a good story, traditionally told yet fairly unique in its content. 

Reviews by James Beagon

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The Blurb

They say you can get lost in a good book. But it's worse to get lost in a bad one... From award-winning company Trick of the Light Theatre comes a story of mystery, magic and mayhem. Inspired by the works of Chris Van Allsburg and Neil Gaiman, The Bookbinder weaves shadowplay, paper art, puppetry, and music into an inventive performance for curious children and adventurous adults. Best in the Fringe (NZ Fringe, 2014), BDO Children's Theatre Award (Fringe World 2015, Perth). 'Spell-binding storytelling at its purest and best' (, Dunedin). 'A must-see gem' ****1/2 (West Australian, Perth).