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Company Skylark's stage play of "The Hobbit" (Brisbane)

Hi, it's John Cook from the Sev Wide Web. The Hobbit stage play by Australian puppeteers Company Skylark has just come to my home town of Brisbane so I thought your readers might be interested in my review.

Visually, the play was stunning. The puppets were spectacular, from the creepy Goblins to the lumbering Trolls to a huge, room filling Smaug. I particularly liked the Goblin King. Sitting in the front row, I was just a few metres away from him and his 8 foot skeletal appearance was quite impressive. The Mirkwood spider gave me arachnaphobic chills (Sting or no Sting, I would've ran for my life) and Bilbo was very cute with his furry little feet! :-)

The only aspect of the visual side that disappointed me was Rivendell and Elrond. The look was just a little too medieval church for my liking - I'd have preferred if Elrond and his elves had been puppets like the Elven King.

The acting was good. Henri Szeps was strong as Gandalf (although I found it hard not seeing him as the Dentist brother-in-law from Mother and Son). But best of all was the very skilful puppet work - particularly Gollum who was amazingly expressive.

I'm sure the story will please Tolkien fans as it seems to have been written with love and attention to detail. Very little was omitted and a lot of historical Middle Earth references were used that should keep the purists happy. However, my wife Wendy (who is not a big Tolkien fan) found parts of the story confusing and I get the feeling the play was targeted more at Tolkien fans than the uninitiated. On the other hand, some of the confusion might be due to the limitations of trying to communicate fantastical concepts on stage - something that will be less of a problem for the Lord of the Rings movies, I'm sure.

Either way, I can heartily recommend the play to Tolkien fans and I'm sure it will leave you even hungrier to see Peter Jackson's vision come to the big screen in 2001.

John Cook

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