Theatre Review: The Lighthouse and Bluey’s Big Play

Two very different experiences to engage wonder and play.

Two shows for children running concurrently at the Arts Centre represent polar opposites of the theatre-going experience, but they both demonstrate excellence in their own way. 

The first production is The Lighthouse, a simply stunning, interactive promenade performance taking place across five rooms in the underbelly of the venue.

The sessions are limited to 30 people and run every twenty minutes. Each group is led through the various performance and interactive sessions, with the common theme of light connecting them all. 

The audience is encouraged to walk around and engage with all aspects of the production (except for the one room where they are required to stay seated). And there are lots of devices on offer throughout to encourage this engagement, including coloured balls, mirrors, and twirling lights on strings to encourage everyone to play and experiment with light.

Music, narration and performance brings The Lighthouse together in this moving, award-winning production by South Australian-based Patch Theatre.

My only concern was that while the age guidance says it’s suitable for all, younger children who aren’t confident with darkness might be less inclined to enjoy the experience.

Meanwhile, upstairs in the Playhouse, Bluey’s Big Play is finally showing in Melbourne after multiple COVID-induced delays and what a joy it is to behold!

Bluey is a pop culture phenomenon for the under 10 set and there was a lot of trepidation to see how such a cult classic for kids – and quite a few parents too – translated in a live-action show. 

The beautiful thing about Bluey is its simplicity and authentic heart. I’m pleased to report that neither of these has been lost in translation as it moved to the stage. 

The play features large puppets controlled by one or two performers at a time, plus additional performers to assist with props. You can see the joy on the performers’ faces as the show unfolds. You can also feel the love in the room from both the young and more mature audience members. 

The lessons of Bluey’s Big Play cover putting down your phone to enjoy what’s right in front of you, kindness for people smaller than you can bring you both happiness and why sometimes siblings don’t get along, but how important it is to bridge the divide. 

Needless to say everyone in the audience just absolutely adored the show. 

It wouldn’t be a good episode of Bluey without a few tears shed at the end, a tradition I’m pleased to report the live stage production definitely maintained. 

4 stars: ★★★★

The Lighthouse

Arts Centre, Melbourne

5 July – 17 July


4 stars: ★★★★

Bluey’s Big Play

Arts Centre, Melbourne

25 June – 30 July 2021

Isabelle Oderberg
About the Author
A veteran journalist, Isabelle Oderberg is a comedy fanatic and has been reviewing comedy for six years. She also reviews restaurants, opera and theatre.