WARWICK SMITH/Fairfax NZ
We have been enjoying the Arts Festival. Last week a highlight was 'The Bookbinder'. It was a fabulous one man play from a Wellington Company called Trick of Light. Ralph McCubbin Howell travels around NZ and often performs in bookshops. Check out his website and see if he is coming to your town, this is the link to their website:
Below is a review of the Bookbinder written by Rachel Thomas that was published in the Waikato Times.
The Bookbinder flawlessly uses the elements of light, shadows and puppetry to create a tale which feels like the best campfire story ever told.
The one-man play comes from Wellington company Trick of the Light and is directed by Hannah Smith.
It's written and performed entirely by Ralph McCubbin Howell - who never once gets tiresome to watch as he takes his audience through a myriad of characters, accents and pop-up paper worlds in the space of 60 minutes.
Played out in a makeshift blackened space in the Japanese Garden of Contemplation, the stage is small and the set delightful - piles of well-loved books stacked around carefully placed desk lamps, and a gramophone which allows an elaborate musical score to play out.
Despite the confined space, this play knows no limits. A character might appear in the form of a human, a paper figure or a shadow - but we know the main ones as only the Bookbinder, his Apprentice, the Boy, and the Girl.
McCubbin Howell's careful treatment of the tiny figures in the story make it feel less like we are watching a puppet show and more like this Bookbinder is a giant in a surreal fantasy where people are made from paper and books are skyscrapers.
The seamless harmony of music, moody shadows and McCubbin Howell's pristine timing and tone create suspense akin to a blockbuster film. The 40 of us packed into the sold-out show hung on his every word.
It wasn't until Howell clapped toward the corner of the "stage" that it became clear a sound master had been silently hiding behind a covered box the entire play and clicking all the right switches.
The Bookbinder was on twice today and plays twice more tomorrow, February 19. If you have a ticket to any of these sold-out performances you certainly are one of the lucky ones.
Who: Trick of the Light
What: The Bookbinder
Where: The Japanese Garden of Contemplation, Hamilton Gardens
- Waikato Times