elves and other friends

lina & nathalie macgregor catch windmill's new show

Ursula Yovich, Katherine Fyffe, Emily Hunt, Afternoon of the Elves

Ursula Yovich, Katherine Fyffe, Emily Hunt, Afternoon of the Elves

Ursula Yovich, Katherine Fyffe, Emily Hunt, Afternoon of the Elves

LINA AFTERNOON OF THE ELVES IS A PLAY ABOUT TWO VERY DIFFERENT GIRLS AROUND MY AGE (10) WHO LIVE NEXT DOOR TO EACH OTHER SOMEWHERE IN AN AMERICAN SUBURB.

The play is based on an award-winning novel of the same name by Janet Taylor Lisle (we’re reading it now thanks to mum buying the book) and is directed by Linda Hartzell (of Seattle Children’s Theatre where it was first performed).

I think the story is really about what is important for a friendship. Is it more important to have ‘friends’ that need you to dress like them, be the same as them, do as they do…or to actually have a real friend (like in this play) who is very special but ‘different’ and who cares about you? This is the choice of a very normal only-child called Hillary, invited to share a secret with her next-door neighbour, Sara-Kate. Hillary is new to the area but has heard about Sara-Kate from the other kids at school, and not very nice things either. But one day she is invited into Sara-Kate’s backyard, and what does she see? A small village, which, Sara-Kate says, was built by elves! And it is Sara-Kate who is looking after it too!

Hillary sees that her new neighbour is a very special girl, even if she seems a bit mysterious and is having problems at school. (Hillary’s parents are not so sure the friendship is a good idea.) And Hillary has her own questions: why would the elves build a village like this—out of old bicycle wheels, garden boxes, bits of wire left lying around— amongst the overgrown weeds of Sara-Kate’s yard, and not somewhere else? Why was she the chosen one? Whatever the answers, the elves’ little village brings the two girls together. But there are still other secrets Sara-Kate has not told Hillary. What is she hiding and why does nobody ever see Sara’s mum? Is she sick, mad, or…dead, like the girls at school keep saying?

I think this was a really interesting play. I loved it, and I couldn’t wait to see what would happen next. My favourite characters were Sara-Kate and Hillary. The others, the ‘popular girls’, were always wearing the same things. They made me think about some of my friends at school; how they’re always dressing the same too! Summing up, I would definitely like to see this play again sometime. For now I’ll finish the book. On to you, Nathalie…

Nathalie (6 years old) I agree with Lina. I wasn’t ever bored either. I liked the way you got to see the two backyards. Sara-Kate’s is messy and darker and Hillary’s neat—too neat and boring—and brighter. They turned around on a revolving stage. The elves must have been very clever to build such a beautiful little village! A strange sound came on when they must have been nearby and their elf ferris wheel began to turn all by itself! Mum says I should say that the ‘performances’ were all good although there were some American words which could have worked just as well or even better in ‘Australian.’

Night of the Elves, director Linda Hartzell, adapted by Y York from the novel by Janet Taylor Lisle, performers Margot Fenley, Katherine Fyffe, Emily Hunt, Jen Taylor, Rory Walker, Ursula Yovich, designer Mary Moore, composer Glyn Lehmann, lighting Mark Shelton, creative producer Cate Fowler, Windmill Performing Arts and Sydney Theatre Company; Sydney Theatre, Oct 27-Nov 5

RealTime issue #76 Dec-Jan 2006 pg. 46

© Lina MacGregor & Nathalie ; for permission to reproduce apply to realtime@realtimearts.net

1 December 2006