Review: CARIBOU CAVE (At Theatre by the Bay, Barrie, Ont.)

by Lynn on July 25, 2019

in The Passionate Playgoer

At the Five Points Theatre, Barrie, Ont.

Created by Alex Dault, Chloe Payne, Andrew Young, Michelle Urbano

Directed by Delphine Guet-McCreight

Set by Joe Pagnan

Costumes by Susan Kendall

Cast: Alex Dault

Chloe Payne

Michelle Urbano

This is a wonderful play described as ‘A prehistoric Adventure for the Whole Family’ about holding on to memories, tradition, respecting different cultures and respecting the earth.

Alex Dault, theatre creator-extraordinaire, got the idea for the play when he saw the cave paintings in the Grotte de Lascaux of the Périgord region in France. To tell the story Dault and co-creators, Chloe Payne, Andrew Young and Michelle Urbano decided to use shadow puppets and performers. A light is shone on a simple sheet and Michelle Urbano, a master puppeteer, uses hand formations, stick puppets and other kinds of shapes to form the shadows. Joe Pagnan has created a set of strips of material that are suspended above the stage with the rough-hewn sheet (on which to project light to produce the shadows) and other structures that suggest a rugged landscape.

Sabaz and Nimrock are hunters who have to find food for their tribe. They are starving. There are no caribou and Sabaz and Nimrock don’t know why. They are faced with all manner of plants and insects to eat but they want meat for their tribe. They have many and various adventures on their travels from being chased by a large, dangerous cat that is not a lion, but just as dangerous, to a large snake, to other animals of varying sizes. Susan Kendall’s costumes are mainly a fur vest and hat for Sabaz and a large fur coat and hat for Nimrock.

They find a cave with drawings on the walls. There is something that looks like a rhinoceros and other animals. How could there be a painting of a rhinoceros since they are not native to that area?  It dawns on them that these cave paintings are the artist’s memories of things that once were but are not now. The drawings were how to preserve the memories of the artist and his/her people.

Sabaz and Nimrock realize that the caribou has disappeared because man has hunted them without restrictions or thought on how to preserve the animals’ numbers. The plant option as food is looking like a viable alternative.

Eventually a lesson is learned. The caribou does come back with careful restrictions. Only the adult male is to be hunted and there is a restriction on how many caribou can be killed at a time.

Michelle Urbano is a skilled, inventive puppeteer. She tells the shadow story through economic images that prick the imagination. Both Alex Dault as Nimrock and Chloe Payne at Sabaz are engaging, energetic and animated. The storytelling is compelling and the audience I was in, composed of children, adults and adults who were developmentally challenged, and was attentive and silent. You can’t get a better compliment to storytelling than that.

And the applause was nice too.

Produced by Theatre by the Bay, Barrie, Ont. 

Began: July 17, 2019.

Closes: July 27, 2019.

Running Time:  50 minutes.

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1 Elizabeth Priddle July 26, 2019 at 10:08 pm

I was at the July 26th performance with my great grandson – I felt the show had the audience (all ages) mesmerized – a story that intrigued young minds. My great grandson comment at the end (he’s seven) he wished there was a presentation at the end from the performers about their costumes and from the puppeteers about their work.