Spare Parts Puppet Theatre enchants with Moominpappa at Sea

Puppeteer Michael Barlow with Moominpappa, Moominmamma, Moomintroll and Little My. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d489339
Puppeteer Michael Barlow with Moominpappa, Moominmamma, Moomintroll and Little My. Picture: Andrew Ritchie d489339

YOU may not know the eccentric Moomins and their rocky windswept island home.

Famous across Europe, Japan and South America, their quirky tales of self-discovery are relatively unknown Down Under.

Michael Barlow is hoping to change that.

He discovered the Moomin book series, by Finish author Tove Jansson, as a child when his aunt gifted the series to him and his siblings.

From there he was so hooked that he later co-created a puppetry production based on them.

“The books were written in the ’60s and a lot of great children’s literature has been written since, but I would love to think some people might discover the rest of the books through coming to see this show because they are an incredible gift to the world,” the Spare Parts Puppet Theatre associate director said.

As solo performer and director of Moominpappa at Sea, Barlow draws viewers into the lives of these enchanting creatures as they face challenges with courage, humour and optimism.

“All of the characters go on a journey; it starts as a physical journey to this remote island – this windswept place far out to sea – and then once they are there, each one goes on their own journey of self discovery,” he said.

“We’re recommending the show for ages five and up: small children respond more immediately to the visual action and comedy and then adults can tap into the other layer of meaning about freedom and respect.”

A question and answer session follows each show, allowing children to express ideas.

“We really like to create works that hopefully spark conversations between generations,” Barlow said.

“One of the most wonderful things is when a child or parent comes back to us, sometimes after some years later, and says, ‘we’re still talking about that show’ or ‘my child went home afterwards and wanted to make puppets out of their toys’.”

Barlow said Finn Family Moomintroll, the third book in the series, was a good edition to begin reading to children.

THE ESSENTIALS

What: Moominpappa at Sea

When: January 14 to February 2

Where: Spare Parts Puppet Theatre, Fremantle

Tickets: sppt.asn.au