Beloved children’s author Paul Jennings’ messages about friendship, self-respect, and consequences of stealing shine in this vibrant adaptation by Verity Laughton. Nicholas Clark Management present a wonderfully entertaining stage version of The Gizmo making me feel like I was back in my primary school library as characters vividly came to life before me.
The Gizmo is a tiny device stolen by Stephen from a market stall. Soon after his thievery, he tries to return it but it keeps returning, following him around like a guilty conscience. This is a tale about standing up for oneself and choosing friends that respect you so that ultimately, you will respect yourself.
Paul Jennings’ voice is still as relevant to me today as it was back in the days of the Round The Twist series. Influenced by literary icons like Mark Twain, Paul Jennings explores morality through his quirky, humorous writing and knows how to entertain the child in us.
The versatile cast of three delivered enjoyable performances. Huw Jennings as Stephen was convincing as the pushover who wants to be the cool kid who, by the end, with the assistance of the pet mouse played by the bubbly Michelle Brasier, realises what true friendship should be.
Brasier’s face lights up as the wide-eyed mouse who has a Jiminy Cricket-esque friendship with Stephen. As the voice of reason, she helps him out of many sticky situations just as a true friend should.
Floggit, the villainous school bully portrayed by Tim Lancaster, was aptly detestable, and in contrast Lancaster cleverly morphed into a host of other auxiliary characters throughout, each with an altogether different though nonetheless zany demeanour.
Brasier also played Mary, and various ensemble characters exhibiting great range. The show was well-paced and the energetic actors commanded the stage with minimal props and the barest of sets. There were some challenging costume changes – particularly on stage – and for the most part, these were well-executed.
The actors interacted beautifully with the audience and the young children in the crowd enthusiastically responded to the moments where they broke the fourth wall. Anyone who is a fan of the author should watch this show.
Reviewed performance: 24 February 2018
Season: 16 February – 18 March 2018
Time: 11.00 am (Thursday and Friday)
5.30 pm (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday)
5.30 pm, Monday 12 March
Venue: The Factory, Garden of Unearthly Delights