Clever, heart-warming tale - The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik

03:33, Oct 25 2012


The word I would use to describe the Australian show The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer which played at the Suter Theatre last night.

Described as a “one-man, micro-epic puppet show” Alvin Sputnik combines puppetry, animation, live and recorded music and acting to tell an enchanting story of Alvin’s quest to become a hero by saving the world.

The set was all black apart from a white, circular screen onto which animated drawings were projected.

The clever way the show’s creator and performer Tim Watts engaged with the audience began from the very start of the show, when the screen was projected with a message saying “Hi, Kia Ora” and drawings showed no phones and no photography allowed signs.

Watts then went on to tell the emotive and endearing story of Alvin, who after losing his wife, travels through the ocean to try find a solution to the save the world which has been almost completely flooded by rising seas.


The animation of Alvin’s travels was combined with Watts acting some parts and clever puppetry.
At times Alvin would leave the screen only to be replaced, and seemingly morph into, different sized puppets which Watts controlled expertly. The timing of animated Alvin matching up with puppet Alvin was very clever.

With the help of lights, sound effects and a bubble machine, Watts made the puppets’ movements look like it was all truly taking place under water.

The music, often played live on a ukulele by Watts, made the story that much more moving and magical.

All this ran seamlessly and was obviously well practised after the three years the show has been playing.

The show was devised by as part of the Blue Room Theatre program in Perth, by Tim Watts and Arielle Gray. It was first shown in Perth in June 2009. Alvin has since travelled the world and has won awards such as “Outstanding Solo Show” at the 2009 New York International Fringe Festival, “Best Puppetry” at the 2010 Adelaide Fringe Awards, and “Best Theatre” at the 2011 Auckland Fringe.

The almost-full, enthralled crowd showed its appreciation with a well-deserved standing ovation which Watts graciously acknowledged by thanking everyone for “making it special”.

At the end he invited people to go have a chat. Kids rushed on stage to ask him questions and he showed them his puppets and gadgets. A comments book in the foyer was filled with comments about how the show was “awesome” and people chatted in awe about how it was “so simple”. One teenaged boy even told his group of friends “I almost did shed a few tears”.

The cleverness of the show made for a very magical and heart-warming 45 minutes.