For the Williamson family, imagination is an incredibly powerful tool. The Father is always imagining the delight in finding Opal in the mines near their Lightning Ridge, New South Wales home. The Mother is imagining another life, a happier existence back in England and the Williamson kids, Kellyanne and Ashmol are concerned with Pobby and Dingan. Kellyanne is because they are her friends and she’s looking out for them. Ashmol is because as far as he’s concerned, they don’t exist.
Bristol theatre stalwarts Travelling Light have taken Ben Rice’s novel about the Australian Williamson family and transformed it into a thoroughly charming two hander with actors Jordan Whyte and Vic Llewellyn playing the brother and sister team. Directed by Craig Edwards, the story revolves around the family’s search for opal and Kellyanne’s invisible friends. After a trip to the mine with the father, Pobby and Dingan go missing and the hunt is on. Both Whyte and Llewellyn play multiple characters, bringing the Lightning Ridge community to life with the action expertly underscored by musician Ron Phelan.
This stage version brings to the forefront the novel’s heart and soul and embraces the humour of the piece as well as dealing with the more sensitive issues. Edwards directs with a light touch and allows his cast to play and engage directly with the audience. As an audience member, there is a real sense of complicity with the cast and the willingness to accept Pobby and Dingan is down to the work the actors do in creating the world.
This is great show for all the family. Whilst it is unlikely that any Australian has ever uttered the word ‘strewth’, the book transforms well to the stage with a world full of Australiana like Violet Crumble and Cherry Ripe getting a look in. In the hands of Travelling Light, The Mysterious Vanishment of Pobby and Dingan is slick, entertaining and a joy to watch.