Follow ‘Scrapologist’ Dr Patricia Baker as she probes, analyses and repairs a large Victorian scrapbook, identified as the property of the lonely clockmaker and seaweed collector Artemis Mood. In this light detective story a fascinating romance is revealed through photos, train tickets, food stains, lists and other fragments of a past life.
Shonna Reppe the designer, writer and performer, is our charming guide Dr Patricia Baker. Witty and constantly beaming at the joy of her discoveries, her enthusiasm and energy is highly infectious. Inquisitive and obsessive, Reppe pours over the large scrapbook, tweezers in hand, drawing out and transferring objects into small transparent plastic bags. Each new discovery is proffered with comedic insight and imaginative contemplations on the life of Artemis Mood.
The scrapbook itself is a wonderful piece of craftsmanship; intricate, delicate, filled with hidden envelopes, secret folds and curious collections. I’m sure I shared an itch with the rest of the audience to explore all the nooks and crannies, to examine the details up close. The key details are shared with us, though, through the clever use of projection onto a screen that makes up the set of Baker’s laboratory, enlarging her discoveries, the film traces the glide of her magnifying glass.
Award-winning children’s theatre practitioner Shonna Reppe is known for her work in puppetry, and this is a wonderful example of a theatre of objects and a story told through objects. A vital accompaniment to this is the carefully orchestrated sound and music, evoking Mood’s trips and adventures, even the captured voices of those around him. Each spread offers us a new soundscape to draw us into the past.
Entertaining and wonderfully original, Reppe captures the attention and admiration of children and adults alike. Some of the humor is clearly for the parents and very much appreciated with knowing chuckles. There might have been more for the children to do to actively take part in the narrative, but Reppe’s constant engagement didn’t leave them wanting.
Oh, and you’ll have to see the show to find out the little secret about Josephine Bean.