Walk on the wild side in Parramatta

Dark but joyous: It's Dark Outside takes a touching wander among the wild shadows of dementia.

Dark but joyous: It's Dark Outside takes a touching wander among the wild shadows of dementia.

Sometimes the smallest theatre shows can be the most memorable.

A tiny gem from last year’s Sydney Festival, lasting only 45 minutes, was The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer.

Alvin’s creators Tim Watts, Arielle Gray and Chris Isaacs have a new production called It’s Dark Outside on at Riverside Theatres this week.

Gray said audiences could expect another deeply imaginative work of theatre — this time, with no words at all.

‘‘We still have puppets and projections, but it’s grown bigger and the story is a little darker,’’ she said.

Commissioned by the Perth Theatre Company, It’s Dark Outside began as an exploration of the ‘‘wildness in human beings’’.

From there, it morphed into an inquiry into what drives behaviour in old-age.

‘‘One of the most interesting things we found was something called sundowning syndrome, where the symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease and dementia are heightened as the sun is setting and there is a greater incidence of wandering off,’’ Gray said.

‘‘So we started with an image of an old man wandering into the wild at sunset.’’

Gray plays the old man, wearing a mask with wing-nut ears, a bulbous red nose and a worried expression, while Watts and Isaacs manipulate a range of puppets, gadgets and landscapes.

‘‘Tim’s dad is an engineer and he loves inventing things, so we have a lot of gadgets and tricks to create a little bit of magic,’’ Gray said.

It’s Dark Outside is on at Riverside Theatres (corner of Church and Market streets, Parramatta) from May 26 to 29. Tickets: $31–$48. Bookings: 8839 3399.

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