Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

11/07/2016 - 23/07/2016

Hannah Playhouse, Wellington

09/05/2015 - 16/05/2015

NZ International Comedy Festival 2015

Production Details

When you can’t get to sleep late in the night, listen to a story fueled by fright!
There will be mermaids, ghouls and perhaps a hag, with sights and smells sure to make you gag. 
But fear not, we promise you will laugh, cause our stories are silly and really quite daft.

Grimm Bedtime Stories is a hilarious and magical tale of brothers who are determined to stay up late by thrilling each other with stories. Some stories are scary, some are sweet, others are pretty disgusting. Children will be invited into this secret world, where bed sheets become landscapes, torches become monsters eyes, and where pyjamas become mystical puppets.

In a show made especially for children aged 5-10 years, this high-paced comedy adventure will thrill audiences as ghouls and hags are brought to life in clever projection design (made by the audience) and acted out by four talented cast members part of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2015.

PlayShop is a hip, exciting company that insists on wildness and liveness” – The Wireless
Family passes available.
Facebook: /playshopnz

Sat 9 & Sat 16 May, 1.30pm
Hannah Playhouse, Wellington

Adults $25.00
Conc. $20.00
Child $12.50
Family Pass
(2 adults/ 2 children) $60* service fees may apply
Bookings: 0800 TICKETEK (842 538)

2016 season at Circa

When you’re too excited to get to sleep, listen to our stories and don’t make a peep, there’ll be ghosts and monsters, and plenty of ghouls, but don’t worry, kids, they know the rules…

PlayShop Performance Company is proud to present Grimm Bedtime Stories!

The show that captured the minds of the young and the young at heart is back after its brilliant debut at the NZ Comedy Festival 2015 (“super enjoyable and laugh out loud funny” – Wellingtonista).

Grimm Bedtime Stories is a collection of unique stories, created by the audience and performers together and brought to life right in front of your eyes. This year, Grimm is on during the school holidays which is a perfect way to keep those lively kids at bay! Adults are also invited along to join in the frightening fun brought to the stage through bed sheets become bold sets and torches turn into twitchy eyes.

Directed by Victoria University’s Lori Leigh, Grimm Bedtime Stories features Isobel McKinnon, Freya Daly Sadgrove, Callum Devlin and Barney Olson. Live music and sound design by Oliver Devlin.

Grimm Bedtime Stories,
Circa Theatre, Wellington Waterfront,
July 11th – July 23rd
11am, $10-$15


Theatre , Improv , Comedy , Children’s ,

50 mins

Intelligently entertaining

Review by John Smythe 11th Jul 2016

What a splendid amalgam of pre-determined story structure and improv this PlayShop show is!  

Under the minimal guidance of PlayShop personnel, the Circa foyer is abuzz with children drawing pictures or handprints or writing their names and aspirations for the holidays on transparent OHP pages. Many of these will be integrated into the show to come.

The emphasis is on bedtime to start with. Sophie (Freya Sadgrove) and James (Barney Olsen) given their parents (Isobel MacKinnon and Callum Devlin) the classic run-around. Having got us to make animal noises, further fun with fart sounds confirms the young audience’s engagement.  

Dissatisfied with their parents’ perfunctory bedtime story, Sophie answers James’s need for a better story with a battered old book called 100 Tales of the Brothers Grimm. More audience participation brings the comically characterised Brothers to the stage: Wilhelm (Callum) and Jacob (Isobel) – oh yes, and the hitherto unsung Ludwig (Oliver Devlin) who, like his namesake Beethoven, is musically very adept. Songs are judiciously integrated throughout.

The blank pages at the end of Sophie’s book fill the Brothers Grimm with horror so they’re happy when the audience is asked to vote for either Cinderella or Hansel and Gretel to be retold. We opt for the latter – and here’s where many of the OHP transparencies are employed, to the clear delight of their creators.

Parents and caregivers may recognise a touch of the ‘This is my picture’ segment from TV’s 7 Days in the way the cast interpret the children’s drawings. These elements are cleverly integrated and referred back to as the show progresses.

The fate of the Witch in the fire – or was it a night store heater? – provokes a post-story post-mortem enquiry conducted by a couple of Detectives whose get-up is redolent of Holmes and Poirot. The way the audience gets involved in interrogating the witnesses replicates younger ones’ tendency to keep asking “Why…?” while the older kids are being encouraged to think critically, beyond the story’s face-value.

The next story comes from The Blank Pages and so is totally improvised. Audience ask-fors produce The Story of the Electric Guitar and the Big Footed Beast (never to be repeated). Again the audience-created transparencies are brought into play as a bizarre yet totally cogent story evolves about a rocking family with spiky hair and black eye make-up whose morning alarm is a cacophony of electric guitars until they (the guitars) are stolen by the BFB.

The quest to get the guitars back – aided by an audience-offered map – builds up to a celebratory dance party and final song. Yet the actual ending is magically quiet because Sophie and James have at last gone to sleep. The utter silence of the audience attests to how special this moment is.

Directed by Lori Leigh with Ryan Knighton assisting, this cast’s exemplary improvisation expertise and strong performance skills see them pitch their Grimm Bedtime Stories just right, well-attuned to the audience’s wavelength without playing down to them in the least. It is as intelligent in its sensibilities as it is entertaining in its delivery.  

I can confidently recommend this for the 5 to 12 age group (as advertised) in the knowledge their accompanying adults will enjoy it too. What’s more it’s a show you could bring young people to more than once: they’d get extra value from realising how different it is each time.  


Editor July 15th, 2016

Lori Leigh Facebooked the following today: 'Today we asked the kids for the scariest monster they could think of. They all screamed "Donald Trump". This is a true story.'

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Young audience delighted

Review by Shannon Friday 10th May 2015

The story starts with two parents (Isobel MacKinnon and Callum Devlin, who will later appear as the Brothers Grimm) trying to get their hyper-active children (Tom Clark and Freya Daly Sadgrove) to bed.  However, the kids would rather stay up and make faces and fart noises. 

After they at least get them into the beds – if not close to sleep – the children summon the Brothers Grimm with the magic words, with the audience’s help.  The two pairs of siblings then get into a storytelling contest.  The Brothers Grimm offer up Hansel and Gretel, with the children playing the title roles. 

So far the show has been pretty standard fairy-tale based children’s theatre stuff, executed with PlayShop’s usual sophisticated understanding of story.  Starting at the fairy tales, the production lifts significantly.  Projected backgrounds are added, and it is a delight to watch the magical interactions between the actors and the backgrounds.  An early example includes Hansel and Gretel’s breadcrumbs being thrown from Clark’s hand onto the projected background – a moment that has the kids in the audience literally gasping in surprise.  Later, children’s drawings illustrate the types of candy on the witch’s house. 

The children keep up their end of the story contest with an adaptation of the relatively obscure tale, The Boy Who Went Forth to Learn Fear.  It feels like a little bit of a cheat, given that the story is another of the Grimm’s tales, and the setup is for an original story.  Considering PlayShop’s talent with narrative structure, I was quite looking forward to what a new fairy tale might look like. 

That said, the story plays out to the great delight of the young audience, especially when more children’s pictures of the various monsters and treasures appear, or names for the main character are drawn from the names of kids attending. 

Added into the whole show are some lovely specific touches, such as Clark’s resistance to getting under the covers or the reason why the parents want the kids to go to bed (so true!).  And I really wish there were some more of this in the fairy tales themselves, because when the show stays broad there’s a sense of inevitability to the stories which, for me at least, lowers the tension and lessens my interest. 

Absolutely essential to driving the show forward is Oliver Devlin’s extraordinary music and sound.  His music is both percussive, emphasizing specific story elements, and driving, providing a delightful pace and shape to the events onstage.


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