Chasing dreams: The Last Great Hunt’s Falling Through Clouds (Sydney Festival)

While Perth-based theatre collective The Last Great Hunt are a relatively new ensemble, their reputation and work is not. As the creators of previous Sydney Festival shows such as The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer (2011) and It’s Dark Outside (2013), they have forged a name for themselves as makers of highly theatrical means using little more than a blank stage, clever masking and projections, and the audience’s imagination. So it is with their most recent offering, Falling Through Clouds, presented at the Seymour Centre as part of this year’s About An Hour program.

Unfolding upon the York Theatre’s thrust stage, Falling Through Clouds’ magic comes from its rich simplicity, its ingenuity, and breathtaking theatrical logic. The story of Dr Mary Miller – a scientist who, as a young girl, chased birds and dreamt of flying – it follows her attempt to raise birds from extinction and the unsuppressed childhood dream of flying which it reinvigorates. Half a dozen pedestal fans, a projector and live-feed video camera, a sheet, a pillow, three custom made screens, and a seemingly endless supply of paper, are all it takes for The Last Great Hunt to tell their story, yet the storytelling and theatricality are clearer and richer than anything you could create with a budget ten- or a hundred times their own.

Running barely more than an hour, each moment is memorable, magical, and lovingly created and the delight in this production is clear to see in the performers’ faces, in the relish with which they create each moment, and the exhilaration at the curtain call. Created and performed by Adriane Duff, Arielle Gray, Chris Isaacs & Tim Watts – with music by Ash Gibson Greig, and sets and gadgets by Anthony Watts – Falling Through Clouds is pure theatrical magic, a delight from beginning to end, an exhilarating journey through time, dreams, and space, one that will stay with you for days, weeks, months, years to come.

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