Children have a natural disposition to absorb the world around them, and when placed within nature itself the results are incredible. City Slicker Critters is an endearing piece of garden theatre set against the beauty of the Royal Botanic Gardens Sydney, which invites kids to get up close and personal with creatures native to its city locale.
The beauty of performance played out al fresco is that the audience themselves become travelling players, moving from one scene to the next as per the concept first introduced by Shakespeare. City Slicker Critters sees the action begin with a buzz as we get intimate with the workings of pollination thanks to a larger than life blue banded native Australian bee. Children have the opportunity to answer pertinent questions around the importance of bees and are given brushes to have a go at finding pollen around the garden themselves.
From B to P, our next port of call is to wake up a cranky possum, unhappy to be disturbed from slumber on account of the fact he is nocturnal. Under possum’s tutelage, the young audience learn about the bush tail possum’s habitat, habits and the neighbours he tries to stay hidden from, like the powerful owl. Much wit peppers the performance as possum refers to birds of prey as regular church-goers and mindfulness too as he instructs the assembled youngsters to lie down, close their eyes and really listen to the sounds around them.
The Pied Possum of the Royal Botanic Gardens leads his young audience through the gardens to see a real life possum asleep in a tree, the roosting place of a powerful owl and a red bellied black snake! The last one is a theatrical representation of course and shares with us that her kind has rather the penchant for joining mother’s groups following the birth of their live babies, not hatched from eggs! On a more serious note we are reminded that her kind are also venomous but tend to shy away from contact with humans so it’s best to make a lot of noise if we suspect a red belly may be near as that will prompt them to slither away and hide.
Several kids rush forward to hold the snake’s tail as we make our way to the final scene and creature in this garden theatre offering, the satin bower bird. En route the children are made aware of blue objects littering the path and asked to pick up one item each, thus teaching them about conservation of the environment while also acting as a precursor to learning how the bower bird attracts his mate. Applying a humorous riff on Beyoncé’s famed Single Ladies, the bower bird reveals how the blue things apply a useful decoration to his bower or nest in drawing the attention of females.
Wholly interactive and entertaining, City Slicker Critters expertly plays to the natural curiosity of children in wanting to learn, to be involved and to demonstrate their own knowledge when it comes to the world around them.
Book now and bee prepared to get a taste of nature from nature itself.
What you need to know:
Who: Children aged 6-12 years and their families
Dates: 9 – 14 July 2018
Where: Lion Gate Lodge Garden, The Royal Botanic Garden, Mrs Macquaries Road
Cost: $14 pp (all children must be accompanied by a ticket-holding adult)
Getting there: Public transport is recommended due to limited and metered street parking. The Domain is the closest Wilson Parking but week rates are expensive.
Note: There is a lot of walking involved in the performance so make sure you’re wearing comfortable shoes, bring a stroller for small children and not too many personal belongings to cart between scenes!