CAPITAL E, McKenzie Theatre, Wellington

07/04/2012 - 21/04/2012

Capital E, Wellington

29/09/2012 - 13/10/2012

Production Details

Written by Jenny and Laughton PattrickDirected by Kerryn Palmer

A cultural canine caper for children this April

From the pen of best-selling New Zealand author, Jenny Pattrick, comes Around the World and Buck Again…  that’s right… Buck again! The latest production from Capital E National Theatre for Children will premiere in the April School holidays, 7 -21 April.

Meet Buck – champion dog trialist returning home from a successful world tour. Stuck in quarantine with British bulldog Horatio, French poodle Fifi and the mysterious Dolores Del Mar from Mexico they swap stories of grand English manors, stylish Parisian quarters and Buck’s love of the Kiwi farm.

But Dolores has a secret New Zealand Customs mustn’t find out. Will the overbearing Horatio spoil her plans? Will Fifi stop reminiscing about French cuisine long enough to notice? Buck smells a rat! But will he act on it?

Joyful and witty, this is a comic canine caper with oodles of international intrigue.

Buck first appeared as the much-loved sheepdog in The Farm at the End of the Road in 2010. 

Writer, Jenny Pattrick, explains where the idea began, “Laughton and I had great fun writing this show. While living in France we noticed how different attitudes to dogs were there. They went everywhere with their owners – on buses, planes, trains, into supermarkets and often in shopping bags. This gave us the idea of writing about a group of different nationalities of dogs and putting them all together in a quarantine station here in New Zealand.”

Directed byKerryn Palmer, performed by an energetic cast of four, Phil Grieve, Jessica Aaltonen, Belinda Wylie, Adam Burrell, and brought to life by the charming toe-tapping sing-along songs of Laughton Pattrick. This comic canine caper for ages 2 – 7, begs attention and will have the whole family entertained these holidays.

Audience members are encouraged to dress up as their favourite dog breed to win a spot prize!

When: Sat 7th 2pm, Mon 9 – Sat 21 April 10am & 11.30am
Venue: McKenzie Theatre, Capital E
Booking: Online at or call 04 913 3740.

Ideal for 2 – 7 year olds
Duration: 45 minutes  

Sept-Oct return season 

After a successful tour of the North Island Buck and his cultural canine compadres return to entertain Wellington families in the October school holidays with Around the World and Buck Again

Audience members are encouraged to dress up as their favourite dog breed or character, then after the show head to the Capital E playground to complete some fun doggy related crafts and activities.

When: Sat 29 10am, Mon 1 – Sat 13 Oct 10am & 11.30am

Venue: McKenzie Theatre, Capital E

Booking: Online at or call 04 913 3740 

There will also be a Sign Language interpreted performance on
Tues 16 Oct at 11.30am,
to book tickets for this show contact Margaret 04 913 3742. 

Fifi:  Jessica Aaltonen 
Horatio:  Phil Grieve 
Buck:  Adam Burrell 
DoloresDel Mar:  Belinda Wylie

Designer: Brian King 
Lighting: Designer Phil Blackburn 

45 mins (2-7 yrs)

A rich and entertaining experience all round

Review by John Smythe 29th Sep 2012

It’s been around the North Island and back again, and will head off again soon to tour four South Island towns. But for Capital E National Theatre for Children’s spring school holiday season, Around the World and Buck Again returns to its home base: the McKenzie Theatre.

It was while Jenny and Laughton Pattrick were in France (Jenny was the 2009 Katherine Mansfield fellow in Menton) that they observed how differently dogs were treated there and got the idea of a play about dogs from diverse cultures discovering their differences while bailed up in a Kiwi quarantine station.

Having written the songs for Peter Wilson’s Capital E puppet show The Farm at the End of the Road (which premiered in 2002 and returned in 2005 and 2010), they whistled up sheep dog Buck for the Kiwi content, invented flirtatious Fifi the French Poodle, pompous Horatio the very British Bulldog and the somewhat dubious Dolores Del Mar, the Mexican Chihuahua (or is she?). And this time people, not puppets, personify the dogs.  

Just as Jenny’s script captures their diversity with concise observations and wit in their dialogue and behaviour, and Laughton’s music brilliantly evokes their different cultural backgrounds, so the actors bring wonderfully observed characterisations and attention to detail to their performances.

Designer Brian King’s immaculate set of culturally distinctive kennels, ideal costumes and face-paint make-up (prosthetics by Chris Covich), lit by Phil Blackburn, provide a visual feast, enhanced by excellent sound effects (uncredited).

Director Kerryn Palmer and choreographer Anne Gare have crafted a high quality production that’s full of fun and perfectly pitched educational moments. While it plays out with well-practised precision, it still feels fresh and lively. Although the format doesn’t allow for audience interaction as such, the richness of textual, musical and physical content ensures adults are just as engaged as children.  

Adam Burrell is a down-to-earth boyish Buck who can’t wait to run over his hills, roll in the dirt and swim the rivers. Having travelled the world as a champion of dog trials he really knows, now, why he loves his home patch.  

As utterly urban as Buck is not, Jessica Aaltonen’s Fifi misses her mistress and the creature comforts of apartment living, not to mention shopping and riding on busses and trains (which of course will be denied her here.)

A stickler for rules and never one to lift a paw, Phil Grieve’s Horatio loves to lounge on lawns and sofas and ride in his master’s Rolls. His smug sense of entitlement may not sit so well, however, in this new life.

A misfit in that she doesn’t have a mistress or master, seems to have no sense of cultural identity and doesn’t even eat like a dog, Belinda Wylie’s clueless Dolores Del Mar lets many clues slip as to who, or what, she really is. And of course the all-knowing Horatio is the first to say, “I thought I smelt a rat …”

Being confined to quarantine requires the quartet to get to know each other – and doing so by bum-sniffing is given its proper due, to the delight of the young audience. Despite their differences they share a yearning for their various homes, expressed in song, and each has an exquisitely finessed song to explain who they are and where they come from. Tim Solly’s arrangements of Laughton Pattrick’s compositions are a delight.

There is plenty to compare and contrast in what they eat for breakfast, how they sleep and what they dream of. And the way they move from defensiveness through fascination to tolerating – indeed celebrating – each other’s differences, while maintaining a strong sense of self (except for Dolores), has obvious wider implications without being in the least bit didactic.

In the final quarter, the well-laid clues about Dolores surface to create the crisis that puts things into a ‘real world’ perspective while bringing the show to its climax. There is a salutary moment when the dogs bark to alert the humans (off) of the danger the whole country is suddenly in, only to be told off for making a noise. Sometime our sense of superiority is misplaced. 

A centrespread of questions in the programme, relating to cultural differences, offers good follow-up material for the kids back home and parents should be prepared for a range of other questions to arise as well. Plus, of course, there will be play and role-play – as there should be in the aftermath of any good children’s play.

Around the World and Buck Again is a rich and entertaining experience all round. If you missed it the first time, catch it this time around.  


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Canine antics make for rip-roaring kids' show

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 12th Apr 2012

Buck was the hero of Capital E’s hit The Farm at the End of the Road and he’s back after going abroad to some sheepdog trials, but he’s in quarantine with three other dogs all waiting to be allowed into New Zealand. His companions are Fifi, a poodle from France, Horatio, a bulldog from England, and Dolores, a chihuahua from Mexico.

Horatio (Phil Grieve) belongs to Lord Barkington who is to be our next governor-general (!?!) and sings a Gilbert and Sullivan pastiche called I’m a Very British Bulldogin front of his union-jacked kennel (designer Brian King).  Fifi (Jessica Aaltonen) sleeps in a wine barrel and all the dogs curiously sing French Cuisine, a song about food that dogs don’t normally eat.

Buck (Adam Burrell) wears a swandri and Dolores (Belinda Wylie) sports a poncho. Just when you start to wonder if there’s going to be a plot you realise there’s something fishy about Dolores. This fishiness is idiomatic, not a clue to her identity, and hey presto we are into a canine episode of Border Control.

It’s all great fun, energetically performed by the cast, slickly directed by Kerryn Palmer. Laughton and Jenny Patrick have provided plenty of songs and comedy though I did wonder at times what the very young will make of some of it.


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Winning combination have musical fun with multicultural dogs lives

Review by Jo Hodgson 09th Apr 2012

Walking into the theatre foyer we are greeted with flight departure screens and carousels full of luggage setting an international scene for the audience even before we enter the theatre.

A full house of happy families settle themselves down to the premiere of another Jenny and Laughton Pattrick musical.  What a treat.

Buck (Adam Burrell), a champion dog trialist, is excitedly returning home to New Zealand from a successful world tour only to discover he has been put into quarantine. He meets British bulldog Horatio (Phil Grieve), French poodle Fifi (Jessica Aaltonen) and, from Mexico, the mysterious Dolores Del Mar (Belinda Wylie).

Through wonderful song and dance we get to know them as they tell their stories to each other. But one of the dogs is not quite as she seems.

Horatio is played with great British ‘stiff upper lip’ by Phil Grieve and his life story song is half spoken, half sung right up there in style with the likes of My Fair Lady’s ‘Why can’t the English…?’ and Mary Poppins ‘The Life I Lead’. I love how his dog kennel looks like a Buckingham Palace sentry box painted in red white and blue and his very realistic Bull Dog face when going off to sleep (on his blow up neck cushion) is priceless.

Fifi, the petite French poodle, is beautifully played by Jessica Aaltonen. Her song for her life in France is full of joie de vivre while she is mélancolique about her new life coming to New Zealand. The prospect of not being able to go everywhere with her mistress – like to the supermarket and on public transport – and the thought that her mistress would have to pick up her poo off the pavement fill her with dread.  

Buck the Kiwi sheepdog is played with great gusto and fun by Adam Burrell. He tries to tell them all how much fun the Kiwi farm is and that sheep dogs don’t wash and they roll around in the muck and have a wonderful time (all the poo and sniffing bottom references appeal greatly to the children in the audience). His song is full of herding sheep and following his masters commands.

Then we come to Dolores Del Mar, a Mexican Chihuahua who doesn’t seem to know how to speak Spanish or much about Mexico. The other dogs eventually start to wonder about this and discover an awful truth. Buck is particularly worried because of what this ‘Chihuahua’ could do the NZ’s wildlife. Belinda Wylie plays her with the right mixture of fear, clumsy slyness and great humour.

As directed by Kerryn Palmer, Jenny Pattrick’s script and Laughton Pattrick’s very singable music, mix with a superb cast, set and costumes (Brian King) and lighting (Phil Blackburn) to present a winning combination. 

The singing and story telling is excellent, the suspense and intrigue just enough. Although my 3 year-old friend struggled with the ‘sudden’ revealing and subsequent un-doing of Dolores Del Mar, the story has plenty of laughs and fun to carry it along. It introduces children to other countries and differences or similarities amongst them and also gives the chance to learn some French and Spanish along the way, plus the ‘Queen’s’ English and Kiwi English.

Congratulations to the team at Capital E on their 15 years of bringing such wonderful theatre experiences to not only Wellington audiences but to families country wide. It’s great to have a musical that can appeal to such a wide age range, as shown by my 14 month-old who barked, clapped and bounced her way through this play with great joy. 


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