Nordic beast gets a beauty of a makeover

IT’S west of the moon in an icy kingdom, where a polar bear king waits for his champion and a woodcutter’s daughter holds the key to a warrior’s destiny.

West of the Moon is based on a Scandinavian version of Beauty and the Beast; it’s a traditional tale made modern with a mix of shadow puppetry, live actors and a sizzling electronic musical score.

“It’s true to the folk tale East of the Sun and West of Moon, woven with other fairy tales,” playwright and actor/director Clare Testoni says..

The hero is a young girl called Boots, who receives a gift of destiny from an eccentric wizard before hooking up with the polar bear king on a journey to his kingdom.

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It’s a land of sword fights, trolls and curses, and Boots has to complete a number of trials and battle the evil Troll Queen in order to save the kingdom and rescue her true love.

“Narrated by a mother to her daughter, this is a coming of age tale,” Testoni says.

“I’ve always loved the world of fairy tales. I love adventure and romance, magic and sword fights. But underneath all of that there are very human stories that I think connect with people of all ages and transcend borders and time.”

Testoni’s real life mirrors part of the play, the Sydneysider journeying across the country in pursuit of love: “And to be involved with puppetry more. Spare Parts [in Fremantle] is the only one in Australia that offers training.”

Like most of the play’s characters, the bear king is a shadow puppet, but when he changes into a young man at night a real actor steps out from behind the screen.

Full of colour, music and movement West of the Moon is a show for all ages from eight or 80, Testoni says.

“And I’m comfortable saying its going to be very pretty.”

It’s on at the Blue Room Theatre, James Street, Northbridge as part of Fringe World, Tuesday January 31 to Saturday February 4. Tix at fringeworld.com.au

by JENNY D’ANGER

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