THE visually gorgeous creation of Fox is a slight departure from the usual presentations of Spare Parts Puppets Theatre in that here the emphasis is on dance rather than pure puppetry.
That said, the co-creators (director Michael Barlow, creative consultant Noriko Nishemoto and choreographer Jacob Lehrer) have melded together various arts to create a most beautiful work, aided by the descriptive music of Lee Buddle and background narration of Kyle Morrison.
The youngsters attending learn of the importance of friendship, the possibility of deep regard between vastly different individuals and the ever present risk of deception and betrayal.
The chortling of the happy magpies is silenced as Flame dances wildly in, setting alight forest and scrubland with its animals and birds unable to escape.
As Flame, Rachel Arianne Oclegives a wonderful performance, then again as she becomes the personification of the sly and scheming Fox, the hand puppet intent on defrauding the survivors.
Poor Magpie (Jessica Lewis) has broken and burned 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, metaphorically trading his blind eye for her broken wing.
As the rain comes, Fox sets about seducing Magpie away from the safety of Dog and into the desert. When the lone wolf prefers his own company and Magpie is reconciled with Dog in their forest, the strength of loyalty is shown in this wonderful tale from Margaret Wild and Ron Brooks.
There is fun too as the devoted Dog brings a gift of a summer flower to his loved Magpie, when the 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.