Aunty McDuff’s Magical Trunk

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

06/07/2010 - 10/07/2010

Production Details

A unique adventure powered by the magic of children’s imagination.

Ever wondered what your Aunty keeps in her old trunk in the attic? On a rainy day three friends escape their boredom and open up their Aunty’s magic trunk to find the secrets that are hidden within.  

Join Luke, Sebastian and Lucy on their adventures fuelled with help from your imagination. Together everyone – actors and the audience – may end up on a cruise around the world on a plane or boat, become a princess, defend a castle or ride across the plains with the cowboys. 

No two shows are the same as the audience helps to decide what happens next in this magical piece of interactive storytelling. Aunty McDuff’s Magical Trunk will enchant and engage with a show filled with adventure and magic that you help to create. 

This July school holidays, the talented improvisers from Christchurch’s The Court Theatre are bringing their hugely popular children’s show, Aunty McDuff ’s Magical Trunk, to THE EDGE as part of the Time Out Theatre for Children series. 

THE EDGE Public Programmes Manager Bronwyn Bent says she is delighted to bring Aunty McDuff ’s Magical Trunk to Auckland, as part of The EDGE’s commitment to presenting top quality children’s entertainment at an affordable price.

“The Court Theatre have been doing shows every school holidays for quite a number of years. They produce amazing work and have a huge following in Christchurch, so it’s great to have them up in Auckland for the first time.

Designed for 5-9 year-olds and their families, Aunty McDuff ’s Magical Trunk is the first of the Court Theatre’s highly successful children’s shows to visit THE EDGE. Performers Emma Brittenden, Daniel Pengelley and Ralph McCubbin Howell bring to life a series of thrilling adventures, directed by Patrick Duffy – and driven by audience suggestions and inspired by the strange array of items the characters pull out of the trunk of their eccentric Aunty.

“Aunty McDuff ’s Magical Trunk really appeals to children who like interactivity – including computer games – because that the cast (who are all improvisors) take suggestions from the audience and incorporate them into the story,” explains Bent.  

“When I saw it in Christchurch they had some really curly suggestions from the crowd but managed very successfully.”

“In rapid succession we are treated to a helicopter, the dodo bird, a twitchy speedster, wacky seascapes complete with poetry spouting merman, a rocket ship escapade and the man in the moon himself. It is a combination Edward de Bono might boggle at, but in the fluid world of the imagination all whoops along, powered by the agile threesome.” – Lindsay Clark, Theatreview

TimeOut Theatre for Children is a series of high quality, low cost theatre presented by THE EDGE for children, their families, and the young at heart. TimeOut Theatre for Children is part of On The House, the THE EDGE’s public programme strand, which also includes: Pick & Mix, a free Saturday series of arts performances and workshops for families; Deep & Meaningful, a series of free events that invites the public behind the scenes of the creative process; and many other free and low cost events.  

Aunty McDuff’s Magical Trunk
Date: Tuesday 6 to Saturday 10 July, Times: 11am & 1pm  
Venue: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE – ALL TICKETS $12.50* 
*Service fees apply  

Recommended for children 5 – 9 years and Pre-show activities will be available in the foyer for children.   

Much mirth in versatile diversion

Review by Nik Smythe 07th Jul 2010

It couldn’t be more appropriate for a midwinter school holiday family production to be on the topic of making your own fun on a wet, rainy day. 

Three big kids, at least old enough to play without adult supervision, are kicking around their Aunty’s attic when her giant trunk spits out a quest written on a piece of paper, to find Aunty McDuff’s pet dog Dougal. The trunk becomes the ingenious centerpiece as the three journey through a range of exciting scenarios: a car, a fairytale castle, a four-poster bed, a sailing ship, a desert island hut, a train …etc.

The main characters of Sebastian (Daniel Pengelly) Luke (Ralph McCubbin Howell) and Lucy (Emma Brittenden) are playful kids distinguished by colour coded shirts, though more by their distinctive personalities. 

Directed by Patrick Duffy, the intrepid young cast portrays many very different characters along their journey, from princes to monsters to builders to train drivers and there is much mirth to be had between them all.

As the programme claims, ‘No two shows are the same’, as certain pivotal points are determined by the audience’s choices. Not full improvisation, rather we are given either/or decisions for what the trunk becomes next, or asked to name specific props like favourite puddings and kitchen utensils. 

This along with the more usual ‘over there, no, over there!’ scenarios create enough of an appropriate sense of inclusion for the kids, who by and large appear to have a great time, which is what really counts of course.

The set is unaccredited, as are costumes, the lights and sound. The eclectic soundtrack linking the variant scenes is well appointed, from laughter-ridden skiffle or slappy funk jams to recognisable classics like the Pink Panther and the Munsters.

We never actually meet Aunty McDuff, but she must be heaps of fun, or at least awesomely cool to have such a versatile coffer surrounded by such diverse props. For only twelve bucks fifty young and old this is affordable, worthwhile holiday entertainment.


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Children caught up in magical hi-jinks

Review by Emma Whittaker 07th Jul 2010

A monster who needed lessons on how to scare was the favourite for some, while others were excited about helping a girl speak to a prince.

And then there were those who were just a bit bored at the opening performance of the children’s show Aunty McDuff’s Magical Trunk yesterday. Produced by Christchurch’s Court Theatre, the show is in Auckland for the first time as part of The Edge’s Time Out theatre for children series. [More]
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