Writer and Director Chris Bendall. Critical Stages Touring. Parramatta Riverside. June 7-8, 2023
Reviewed : 7 June, 2023 *
Black Sun Blood Moon was first performed in Wagga Wagg in 2022. Its 2023 tour has been on the road since April, beginning in Cairns. From Parramatta it will move on to Western Australia, taking its message about climate change, activism, juvenile justice and hope.
Writer and director Chris Bendall was inspired to write the play based on his own daughter’s reaction to the fact that scientists have been concerned about climate change for 40 years and yet little has been done to stall it.
Bendall spent 9 years as the CEO of Critical Stages Touring and has ensured his play has all the necessities of a touring production. It has universal appeal, its messages are strong but optimistic and the characters are identifiable. Because it is directed at a family audience, he has also included fantasy, puppetry and humour. His creative team has devised a colourful set that can be adapted to most stages.
Two stories interconnect. One involves twelve year old Maddy, who becomes very actively involved in school strikes for climate change and is eventually arrested and faces a court case. In the second Katie “originally a climate change denier”, who Bendall takes on a flight of fancy “in an attempt to imagine a magical solution to the crisis”.
A cast of four carry the story. In this production Bendall’s daughter Eloise plays Maddy, the strong-willed twelve-year-old who is determined to make governments listen and act. She shows the conviction of the character strongly and relates well with Matthew Whittet who plays her understanding father, Paul. Whittet gives the role depth and belief and makes the most of the humour the playwright has injected into the role.
Adelaide Kennedy plays Katie in this production, making the change from prissy office assistant to convinced believer as she “flies” on the wings of a huge puppet eagle and sees the need to save endangered species.
Lani Tupu plays four roles, including a police officer – and the lawyer who convinces Paul to sue the government, leading to insights into juvenile justice which has been so much in the news of late.
Black Sun Blood Moon, in the style of theatre-in-education, uses theatrical devices that create and sustain interest and add extra impact to the messages at the heart of the play.