War story connects families

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The cast of An Awfully Big Adventure in action. Photo: Supplied

IT may tackle an awfully big historical topic, but Capital E’s current tour is entertaining young and old alike.

Written and directed by Leo Gene Peters, An Awfully Big Adventure will be performed by Adam Brown, Andrew Paterson, Brynley Stent and Jonathan Price in Invercargill next week.

Suitable for ages 7 and over, Paterson said the cast of the show would tell the audience about World War 1, while trying to figure out how it started, what happened and its impact on New Zealanders.

“It’s very much four actors just on the fly trying to explain and figure out what happened in the moment in front of you.”

Many different props are used in the show – household items such as mixing bowls as helmets, teddy bears representing countries and sewn-together coats to make a map, he said.

“It follows two main characters, Robert, who is 18 and goes off to war not really knowing what he’s in for, thinking it’s just going to be a lovely little holiday, which so many of them did,” Paterson said. “And the other one, Tom, who becomes a conscientious objector, and that’s inspired a lot by (New Zealand pacifist) Archibald Baxter and all of the things he went through.”

Along with history, Kiwi ingenuity and humour, the show also featured songs composed by Gareth Hobbs.

“There are some lovely songs… They’re somewhat inspired by the propaganda songs of the time, sometimes telling the truth, and sometimes not.”

The show starts with audience interaction, he said, as the cast chat to people to find out what they already know about World War 1.

“[This is to] get them sort of thinking and prepared, and shifting their mindset in a way into this world we’re going to show them.”

Paterson said it was lovely to be able to spark conversations between parents and their children.

“It’s not so much glorifying the people who went there, which it touches on, but it’s more about questioning why this happened and to be aware of why it happened, and how can we not let this happen again.”

He said audience reaction had been great, with a mixture of school shows and public shows performed since its debut about three years ago.

“There’s something in it for everyone, which is lovely for a kids’ show. Especially when you’re bringing your kid along to it, you want to be entertained as well.”

And it wasn’t just children who were learning things. Paterson said they also had a lot of teachers and parents come up to them after the show to tell the cast that they hadn’t heard about some of the information before.

“I certainly didn’t know most of it when I started the show.”

An Awfully Big Adventure, Civic Theatre, Thursday, August 31, 6pm. Tickets are $10 per person, or family special $30 for four tickets. Booking and service fees apply.

Tickets available from TicketDirect and the Invercargill City Council booking office.

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