Updated: Jun 22
3/5 cat’s whiskers for this miniature epic!
“Scaredy Cat” is created by treasured 40-years-young Tasmanian puppet company, Terrapin. What a delight to join the way-under-10s for this 45-minute piece of joyous escapism. Set in the basement stacked with boxes, old paint cloths and discarded furniture this is a David and Goliath struggle between a naïve cat and three very energetic, smart and cunning mice. Scaredy Cat is abandoned in the basement with one job – get rid of the mice! Only one problem … Scaredy is fearful of these little critters and has no experience of hunting. The mice are first- rate bullies who eat Scaredy’s food and even fashion a key from a tin lid to attempt a get-away. Magically, a dusty chair, cupboard and vintage tape recorder come to life and together teach Scaredy that she’s more powerful than she could ever imagine.
I won’t give away any spoilers but be assured there is no blood spilt in the basement. I was relieved that writer Finn O’Branagáin found a neat way of subverting our expectations around feisty felines and robust rodents. This is a story of unlikely friendship and courage. Although, I did kinda wish that Scaredy left for a life of adventure with those mice!
The production is accompanied by a dense recorded sound track and is strongest when its focuses on Foley-like effects (human footsteps, doors opening, mice skidding, items falling), which begins, and end the show. The choreography of puppeteers, objects and sounds – in these moments - is thrilling. When the action falls out of realism and into the fantastic is where the production soars – memorably as Scaredy, the furniture and the mice interact in a matrix-like slow motion sequence. The show is short enough for a stronger and more sustained build and the end is a bit of a whimper. There is a mysterious human being who lives offstage and I guess this story is that Scaredy must take her newfound confidence into the human arena beyond the basement. Three, young engaging puppeteers move like clockwork within the confines of the detailed, neat touring set which sits beautifully in the Playhouse stage – but, be warned, if you are sitting on the extreme edges there is a sightline challenge.
The under-10s and the over-50s were all chuckling together in recognition of Scaredy’s troubles and triumphs. Laughter bonds us, and helps makes kids smarter, healthier and more resilient – it really is the best medicine; and what better medicine than this in these fraught COVID times!
Writer: Finn O’Branagáin Director: Sam Routledge Original Design: Bryony Anderson Set Design Adaptation for Theatres: Charlotte Lane Composer: Dylan Sheridan Performers: Noah Casey, Lucy McDonald, Bella Young Construction: Bryony Anderson, Jon Bowling, Paul Colegrave, Gab Paananen, Edith Perrenot, Gabbee Stolp
Review by Kate Gaul
Sydney Opera House
6th January 2022