Reporter Odna Borlaug reviews Spare Parts Puppet Theatre’s latest, Fox.

THE visually gorgeous creation of Fox is a slight departure from the usual presentations from Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, with an emphasis on dance rather than pure puppetry.

That said, co-creators director Michael Barlow, creative consultant Noriko Nishimoto and choreographer Jacob Lehrer have melded various arts to make a most beautiful work, aided by the descriptive music of Lee Buddle and background narration of Kyle Morrison.

The young audience attending learn the importance of friendship, the possibility of deep regard between vastly different individuals, and the ever present risk of deception and betrayal.

As Flame, Rachel Arianne Ogle gives a wonderful performance, before she becomes the personification of the sly and scheming Fox, intent on defrauding the survivors.

Poor Magpie (Jessica Lewis) has broken and burnt her wing in the fire and the terrified disabled bird awaits her fate at the hands of Dog (Imanuel Dado) who instead unexpectedly helps and protects her.

As the rain comes, Dog piggybacks Magpie to the river where they find other wondrous saved creatures and Fox sets about seducing Magpie away from the safety of Dog and into the desert. The strength of loyalty is shown in this wonderful tale from Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks.

There is lots of fun too as the devoted Dog brings a gift of a magnificent summer flower to his loved Magpie, when the abundant pollen brings sneezing fits to both.

All performances are wonderfully sustained, particularly as Fox and Dog both host hand or head puppets for most of the time and Magpie has a perpetually broken wing: a wonderful test of balance and acting combined with dance.