Entertainment Hive 2017

Dream treehouse takes shape on-stage

By Honey B

Matthew Lilley has had a long time to imagine just what room he would like to have in his own treehouse. Lilley, who plays Terry in Richard Tulloch's stage adaption of Andy Griffiths and Terry Denton's 13- Storey Treehouse, says he would love to design the quintessential 1980s arcade game room. "In my treehouse I would have a really big rumpus or games room with big beanbags, a table tennis table, pinball machines, arcade games and a room-full of fun things to do,'' Lilley enthuses. "My treehouse wouldn't be as outrageous as Andy and Terry's where they have stuff like a tank full of man-eating sharks and a secret underground lab. "But my treehouse would certainly be lots of fun and now I'm grown-up I would still like to have that giant games room.'' Lilley is revelling in the freedom of being a "big kid'' in this energetic and magical hour-long production. "Andy and Terry's book is really crazy and there are so many impossible and imaginative things going on that you would have to wonder how it's been turned into a play. "But the stage show is very clever and it builds up the action until absolutely everything is going on at an amazing pace. "There is a lot of room for myself and Andrew and Eliza to play on-stage. "We have some room to improvise and every show is different depending on the audience we have in at the time and how they react to the action - so that's really rewarding.'' The performance is filled with flying cats, a mermaid, a sea monster, invading monkeys and a giant gorilla – with a box of costumes and props and some awesome technology. Lilley says the production starts with Andy and Terry turning their popular book into a play, but they have messed up their dates. "Andy and Terry have gone into the theatre to rehearse their play, but they have mixed up their dates and it's actually opening - so instead of rehearsing, the audience is already sitting there waiting. "The pair have to use their imaginations, along with the audience, and they don't do a very good job to start with. "They have a twig and try to turn that into the treehouse and from that the play grows and grows until everyone's imaginations get stronger and the play almost overtakes them. "What happens in the book starts to happen on-stage with crazy giant props and machinery and it's a lot of fun and very chaotic.'' Lilley says the show is perfect for children aged from six to 12 years old and there's plenty for the adults as well. "There's no doubt that the boys love it, but the girls are just as interested in the antics on-stage. "There is a lot of colour and movement and it's very imaginative. I love hearing the children laugh and it's also great when you can reel in the adults as well and get them laughing. "Really, there's nothing better than hearing 500 kids squealing at the same time.'' Lilley hopes that this play and Griffiths' and Denton's book helps children to step away from the electronics and read books, use their imaginations and play outside. "These days kids have all of the whizz bang electronics and the great thing about the book and the play is that it encourages kids to write and perform their own stories and become storytellers themselves.'' The 13-Storey Treehouse, Adelaide Festival Centre, Dunstan Playhouse, July 5-7. Bookings: BASS
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