Peta and the Whale

By Lisa Clark Peta and the Whale pic


The extraordinary talent going into this production of Peta and the Whale are there for you to see. The puppets are gorgeous, the technical skills of everyone involved are top notch and there is a beautiful simple tale at its heart.

I fell in love with Philip Millar’s puppetry when he did Tyrannosaurus Sex at Fringe several years ago and it blew my mind. For some reason phallus puppets popped up in several shows (Like Nina Conti’s) around that time but none were wielded as brilliantly, intelligently & hilariously as Philip’s. And now for something completely different. Well, apart from the brilliant, intelligent bit.

Peta and the Whale is mostly Black Theatre, with puppeteers in black wielding puppets on sticks and wire. Peta is a marionette and her sailor grandfather is played by famous children’s entertainer Franciscus Henri made up to look a little bit like a puppet. The entire performance takes place behind a scrim which has drawings projected onto it and helps mask the puppeteers, giving a sense of being in a magical, possibly underwater world. It works beautifully.

With Fransiscus on board, you know there will be great music and there was, some fabulous sea shanties, not a lot, but enough to add great atmosphere. This is no wiggles style singalong, dancealong kids show though, it is thoughtful, gentle and had the kids (mostly aged under eight) engaged and sitting surprisingly quietly all the way through (There’s always one kid who pipes up in a quiet bit “What’s That Mummy?” making everyone giggle). The seating is raked but the smallest ones are best sitting on adult’s laps to see clearly (the three year old next to me had no problems and was mesmerised), or sit as far up the front as you can. It was sold out the day I saw it. So get there a bit early for best seats.

Peta’s Grandfather tells her stories of the sea and magically her pictures of sea creatures come to life out of her book before our eyes. The creatures are stunning, with my only quibbles being that it took a while to finally see the whale of the title and that there are not quite enough sea creatures, so there’s another reason to see this; your ticket sales can go into more puppets being made!

Peta and the Whale is in the Kids section but this one is enjoyable for all ages. A beautiful soulful puppet show about love, imagination and magic that cast a spell on its enchanted audience.

Peta and the Whale is on at the North Melbourne Town Hall until October 3.

For booking details visit