The 13-Storey Treehouse – Live on Stage | Review | Adelaide Festival Centre

The 13-Storey Treehouse – Live on Stage | Review | Adelaide Festival Centre

Revisit the magic of the first book in the kids’ series, with the wacky fun adapted for the theatre.

by Carla Caruso

Please note: This show’s season is now over, but other CDP Kids’ performances are still on at the Festival Centre, like Guess How Much I Love You

You’d have to have been living under a rock to have not heard of The 13-Storey Treehouse series. Or maybe beneath a giant gorilla. (More on that later.)

The book series is a multi-award-winning Aussie phenomenon. It’s the brainchild of author Andy Griffiths and illustrator Terry Denton and has since been adapted into numerous stage plays.

This one takes you back to the very first story, published in 2011.

Yep, it’s a return of the show after sold-out seasons at the Sydney Opera House and theatres across Oz.

The 13-storey treehouse in the book is the stuff of kids’ dreams. Think “a bowling alley, a see-through swimming pool, a tank full of man-eating sharks, a secret underground laboratory, a vegetable vaporiser, and a marshmallow machine that shoots marshmallows into your mouths when it sees that you are hungry”.

For the play, the set’s kept simple with guests encouraged to let their imaginations run wild.

During the performance, instead of the creators struggling to finish their book on time amid distractions, they’re trying to complete their play. (Yes, the author and illustrator star in their own stories.)

Other well-known characters from the series also pop up, like their animal-loving neighbour, Jill; her white cat, Silky (who Terry paints yellow and turns into a winged “catnary”); Barky from Terry’s fave show, Barky the Barking Dog; and the gruff Bill the Postman.

There’s a running joke about other celebrities who were also meant to be there – like Chris Hemsworth “who had to get a Band-Aid removed under aesthetic”. But the protagonists are stuck with a stage manager character named Val.

She slips into the role of a sea monkey too, who turns into a mermaid in the bath. Terry winds up giving her a smooch behind a shadow puppet screen and is all set to live with her in her 13-storey sandcastle … until he learns she’s a scary sea monster in disguise.

My boys’ favourite bit was the arrival of a giant gorilla at the treehouse. As they said, “it was really cool because it looked so realistic” with its eye blinking at you through a window.

Other peculiarities were flying cats, a super-powered finger, and an invasion of monkeys.

If it all sounds a bit mad, it is. But that’s the show’s brilliance! 

PS. After the fun-filled performance, we dropped in to see the Giant Christmas Tree at the Mortlock Library nearby. Worth a visit; the place is like something out of a Harry Potter film.

Review by Carla Caruso

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For more information, please visit the AFC website.

What:  The 13-Storey Treehouse – Live on Stage

When:  December 14-16, 2021

Where:  Dunstan Playhouse | Adelaide Festival Centre, King William Road, Adelaide

Who:  For kids, aged 6 to 12, and their adults

At Play & Go Adelaide we make every effort to provide accurate information to the best of our knowledge at the time of publication. We recommend confirming times, dates and details directly before making any plans as details may be subject to change.

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