Michael Cullen delves in to Diary of a Wombat


Diary of a Wombat cast with Mothball, Michael Cullen (back, middle).
Diary of a Wombat cast with Mothball, Michael Cullen (back, middle).

THE last time Sydney performer Michael Cullen was in Perth, it was to puppeteer a dinosaur for Erth’s Dinosaur Zoo.

His next visit will see him sharing the stage with a more cute and cuddly animal.

Diary of a Wombat is based on the book by Jackie French and Bruce Whatley and is touring Australia presented by Monkey Baa Theatre Company.

“We started rehearsing in February and started the tour in March, so by the end of it we’ll have done 180 shows in 59 different venues around the country,” Cullen said.

“It’s been a good run and we’re lucky it’s a fun show.”

Cullen used his puppetry skills (he was also in the Australian east coast tour of War Horse) during the development of Diary of a Wombat and was given the green light when he asked to be in the finished production.

Faithful to the book, Diary of a Wombat follows cheeky, curious and hungry wombat Mothball on her journey to discover new things.

After becoming bored from eating only grass, the marsupial finds her way into the human world, where she is fed carrots and oats.

“I think the really interesting thing about it is the use of the cello as the wombat’s voice; it brings the book to life,” Cullen said.

“Reading the book is great; you can hear the story, but we didn’t want the wombat to talk so we use the cello to speak Mothball’s emotions and tell her story, whether she’s hungry or sad.

“I think the cello brings it to life in new ways. Mary our cellist does a lot of things you probably wouldn’t hear be played anywhere else.

“It’s an incredibly versatile instrument and some of the things she does are very inventive. A lot of people who play cello and see the show can’t believe she’s able to make that noise with it.”

The production is at UWA’s Octagon Theatre with performances at 10am, 12.30pm and 3pm (relaxed performance) on Saturday, October 28.

It is suitable for ages three years and older.

“One of our volunteers in the theatre today was 71 and said he had a great time and really loved it,” Cullen said.

“You can definitely enjoy it, even if you’re not a little one.”

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Diary of a Wombat

Where: Octagon Theatre, UWA

When: October 28

Tickets: www.ticketswa.com

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