Everyone's favourite Australian puppy heads out on tour for a fun family show that feels like a little bit of magic
One of Australia’s greatest exports, Bluey is an Emmy award-winning children’s cartoon created by Joe Brumm. It follows the Heelers, a suburban clan of anthropomorphised dogs, and plays like 1990s The Simpsons minus the cruelty. It ekes sly laughs from family life while retaining an essential sweetness, and is, therefore, loved by parents and kids alike.
Anyone worrying how all this might translate to the stage should rest easy: the live show is almost as charming as the TV version. Written by Brum, it’s directed by Rosemary Myers and designed by Jonathan Oxlade, with music by Joff Bush. Bluey, her little sister Bingo, Mum and Dad are huge puppets brought to life by a tireless team. With two performers to each character, they’re highly expressive, with moveable eyes, eyebrows and tails. Crucially, through some pre-recorded magic, they’re voiced by the same actors as the cartoon, which makes them seem fun and familiar rather than uncanny.
As puppet birds chirrup and flock past, we see dawn breaking and the lights coming on in the Heelers house. After an extensive dance intro re-enacting the credits, we’re into a regular day. To persuade Dad to play with them, the sisters try to hide his phone; Dad just wants a moment’s peace to read about lawn grubs; while Mum takes Bluey aside to teach her how to be a better big sister.
The music and staging are lovely, the script is funny enough for adults to enjoy too (Dad calls Bingo his “shorter daughter”) and there are lots of call-backs to the best episodes from the series. Watch out for Bingo’s adorable walking leaf, and a fleeting appearance from the two grannies. There’s also a big dose of the happy-sad stuff, as Mum reflects on her relationship with estranged Aunty Brandy.
Once the story – essentially a half hour episode with lots of extra business – is over, there’s a huge, auditorium-wide game of keepy-uppy to finish. In short, plenty to keep little tails wagging.