REVIEW and photo by Robert Haile


INTERACTIVE, riveting and tear jerking – Laika the Spacedog not only captivated but stole the hearts of the St Bees audience.

Rosehill on the Road and St Bees School played host to the English Touring Opera’s Laika the Spacedog on Saturday June 11.

The story of the first animal to orbit the earth might be well known especially amongst the older generations, it was all generations that were captured by the loveable puppet of Laika.

This opera covered the launch of Sputnik and the rivalry between the USSR and America.

Starting with Laika coming to a Russian family the story moved quickly with the pride the USSR had when Sputnik was launched and then the challenge being set to send an animal into space.

The audience was brought in to help convince one of the scientists to work on the project through the reading of the charges the Soviets had against him, one of which was not sending a birthday card to the leader.

This was an important part of keeping the young audience interested as the cast regularly called for the audience to participate with making music, taking readings during the experiments and actions during some of the musical numbers.

The first decisive moment in Laika’s story came after the scientist had decided to send a dog into space and Laika was found alone and taken, her owner then handed the audience lost posters.

The experiments that were then carried out on Laika brought more audience participation with basic mathematics.

Then the heart breaking moment arrived when trying to sneak Laika out it was revealed that there was no plan to bring her back.

This aspect was covered quickly with the launch and death covered within minutes as the venue went quiet except for a slowing musical beat.

Finishing the opera off with a brilliant piece of artistic license that brought a smile back to the children’s faces by saying Neil Armstrong had saw Laika on the moon.