Poppy and Dingan
Imaginary friendships are a part of life for many children and, just like real ones, they come with no guarantees. When Kellyanne Williamson, a young girl living in the Australian outback, loses her invisible pals in Pobby and Dingan, life is never the same again.
Published in 2000, Ben Rice’s novella won the Somerset Maugham Award and was later made into the film Opal Dream. Now, children’s theatre company Catherine Wheels has got its hands on the tale, with Rob Evans adapting Rice’s text for the stage. Right from the start, Evans was impressed with the material he had to work with.
‘I thought the book was both exciting and emotional,’ he says. ‘It has great characters and structure, and works on lots of different levels. All four members of the family go through a journey, which gives the story a richness.’ The show is narrated by Ashmol, a 12-year-old boy annoyed by his younger sister’s persistent playing with two friends nobody else can see. When Pobby and Dingan go missing, however, Kellyanne becomes ill and Ashmol sets out to find them in a bid to make his sister well again.
A tale of family, love and hope, Pobby and Dingan also deals with that most sensitive of issues – death. Aimed at ages 8+, inevitably adults and children will respond to the storyline in different ways, but Evans hopes it will lead to some interesting post-show discussions between friends and families.
‘Whether you’re a child or an adult, it’s scary to think about death,’ he says. ‘But life goes on, and you can make the best of things or you can not talk about it – and I’d much rather it was spoken about. You want to leave young people with questions, rather than hand them a wrapped up piece of theatre.’
Brunton Theatre, Musselburgh, Thu 25–Sat 27 Feb; Traverse Theatre, Edinburgh, Wed 3–Sat 6 Mar then touring