Papa Hou Theatre at the YMCA, 12 Hereford Street, Christchurch

19/07/2018 - 21/07/2018

Kidsfest 2018

Production Details


In a magical world of flitting butterflies, jumping eggs, and giant swaying flowers, two lycra-clad clown puppeteers try their hardest to remain unseen and at service to their puppets: two enormous plump Caterpillars. Caught in the wrong place at the wrong time, with nothing but their wits to cover up escalating blunders, the hapless puppeteers take upbeat absurdity, slapstick and silliness to new heights, but, get grounded hilariously in reality.

Awards: Best Production – Theatre – Auckland Fringe 2015 Best Costume – Auckland Fringe 2015

Caterpillars is created by Cantabrian Thomas Monckton, creator and star of the multi-award-winning Moving Stationery and the Edinburgh Fringe 5-star hit The Pianist, which recently toured throughout Europe. He studied at the physical theatre school of Jacques Lecoq in Paris, where he is now based. “I love bringing my new work home to try out on the kiwis, and it’s exciting to have a show in the Kidsfest that caters for the whole family,” Monckton says. “5 year olds are the most honest critics!”

Caterpillars is performed by Mim and Danny Syme, co-directors of Christchurch’s very own circus company and school, in collaboration with Kallo Collective (Finland). They bring their impressive experience and theatrical skills to this wordless child-friendly performance that can be enjoyed by young and old alike. 

The show is being staged as part of the Christchurch Kidsfest 2018 and is sure to be a hit. Caterpillars has already been loved by audiences throughout Europe and Asia.

Papa Hou at the YMCA, 12 Hereford Street, Christchurch
19-21 July 2018
Shows at 2pm and 6pm daily
$15 Adult / $10 Child.

Theatre , Family , Clown , Children’s ,

Utterly charming

Review by Erin Harrington 20th Jul 2018

The physical theatre piece Caterpillars is a welcome and well-designed addition to the Kidsfest programme, and a show that asks for and rewards close attention and imagination. This iteration of the show, which has been performed across Asia and Europe, is presented by Christchurch-based circus theatre company Circotica, in conjunction with Finland’s Kallo Collective, and performed by circus artists Mim and Danny Syme. Their clown personae, clad in black full-body lycra suits, attempt to dramatise the life cycle of a butterfly through puppetry, physical comedy and movement. 

There’s a real sweetness to the performance, especially as the silent clowns try, and sometimes fail, to keep their puppets and, later, their giant caterpillar costumes in check. Part of the show’s pleasure is in hoping for, and ultimately sharing in, the clown’s success.

The brightly coloured, whimsical production design is similarly delightful, combining a simple storybook aesthetic with clever costumes and sometimes surprising props that represent butterflies, eggs, cocoons, bees, snow and falling leaves. I particularly love the large blousey paper flowers that line the stage, whose heads nod in a breeze provided by well-placed fans.

Papa Hou is a great space for this show, too, although the rake of the seats means that some of the children behind me find it a little difficult to see action that is far downstage.

I admit that some of the show’s choreography and characterisation doesn’t feel as tight and precise as a lot of the other work I’ve seen Circotica do. There’s also something funny going on with the theatre’s retractable seating, as its vibrations are an unfortunate and noisy distraction. It doesn’t matter too much though, as the kids in the audience are completely entranced. They are soon giggling and squealing away, and I find the whole thing utterly charming.

When considering recent debates around the future of Christchurch performing arts venues, this show demonstrates that local independent theatre, collaborative artistic relationships and work that caters to diverse audiences are all thriving and worthy of further support.


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