Updated: Oct 9, 2019
Laser Beak Man has returned to Brisbane following its world premiere during Brisbane Festival in 2017 featuring an original live soundtrack by Ball Park Music's Sam Cromack.
In 1999 an 11 year old Tim Sharp drew a unique character for the first time. He would go onto draw him everyday and now 20 years on it has inspired an animated television series, numerous documentaries, a best-selling book and this live theatre production, with Sharp also having spoken at TEDx about his experience with autism.
Although an hour and a half of puppetry, singing, and crayon animation seems like it would have an age limit, Laser Beak Man features intelligent fourth-wall breaking storytelling, political dad jokes and the occasion naughty word. Laser Beak Man and his compatriots in Power City are animated by several puppeteers with over 40 puppets and other 3D structures. Sharp's comicbook-esque story sees the mute superhero Laser Beak Man challenged by his childhood friend and villain Peter Bartman who has a nefarious plot to steal the finite Magna Crystals robbing the city of its power.
There's certaintly some clever political wit in the show, with hilarious nods to inept government and the dual-citizenship scandal as well as parables on xenophobia, self-worth and the environment. The whole show is scarily well done, despite its child-like exterior. There's wonderfully campy humour (A giant tomato monster piloted by drone into the audience is transformed into a ketchup bottle), there's cheesy feel good moments, and its not exactly immersive (nor is it meant to be) - Yet the ingenious puppet manipulation, scene changes, and dialogue that appeals to all ages (really) makes for a tremendously fun show.
The puppeteers of course can't be commended enough - not only do they have to move their puppets sometimes in sync with several other individually controlled limbs, they also voice act and sing. And there something nostalgic about those classic Australian accents that sound like they could be pulled right from 90s kids shows like Blinky Bill or Lil' Elvis Jones.
Although Laser Beak Man and the Power City inhabitants are interesting characters - never have we felt so much for a scruffy looking puppet of a little black sheep. Clearly the MVP of the show. You'll see what we mean.
And of course the we have the music. Ball Park Music's Sam Cromack
composed an album's worth of original soundtrack whilst also heading up a live, onstage band that includes fellow bandmates Dean and Daniel Hanson and Luke Moseley.
“Theatre’s interesting...if you want to write any kind of theatre piece, you begin with a script...even though the script undergoes so much change and is constantly evolving over time" says Cromack "I was a bit of a nerd at school...so I’ve liked taking on a project where it’s like, ‘we need X amount of songs and they need to be about this and we need to have them by this date...I was able to take myself out of it, which is hard in Ball Park Music. That band is so tangled up with my identity as a person, whereas with this, I could simply think, ‘sweet, you need a song about this! Tim’s a massive Beatles fan and that was part of the brief. They said, ‘let’s keep this true to Tim’s world’ and I was like ‘sign me up, I’m such a Beatles tragic’.
The BPM sound (perhaps more so My Own Pet Radio) is unmistakable On stage, yet remarkable versatile. Its joyous, melancholic, heroic and bittersweet when it needs to be. Its perfectly balanced with the action and loaded with effects and an atmosphere of youthfulness, and a far more engaging sound than a more commercially produced soundtrack. A live 'rock band' in a theatre seems like it could be a hit or miss but the crowd's thunderous applause for the Sam Cromack and his band certaintly put that to rest.
Now for a few words from Laser Beak Man, when did you first realise you could shoot lasers from your beak? That must have been a game-changer!
Laser Beak Man takes a small black book from his zipped secret pocket and shows the interviewer page number three. The book is titled The Laser Beak Man hand book of by-laws for being a super hero.
(a) Never talk about your super powers
(b) A real super hero doesn’t talk it, they just do it.
"Visually splendid, highly entertaining and ultimately moving.” The Australian
“A visual spectacular … a killer soundtrack.” The Courier-Mail
“It’s a magical, big-hearted, deeply charming theatre experience, and if it’s a cliche to claim Laser Beak Man will be as much fun for adults as children, it’s also the truth.” The Age
Directed by David Morton, Laser Beak Man is presented by La Boite, Dead Puppet Society with music by Sam Cromack.