BATS Theatre, Wellington

07/10/2016 - 07/10/2016

NZ Improv Festival 2010

Production Details

Kids have the most fun telling stories and being silly and imagining things. Kiddie Time takes the ways kids shows entertain kids and does it for bigger kids, with storytelling, arts and crafts, puppets, songs and more. Wear your onesies and pjs, there’ll be hot chocolates and midnight snacks, plus prizes for the best outfits!

Directed by Cale Bain (Sydney), and starring a cast gathered together from festival participants. A special late night edition of our Spontaneous Showcase, featuring six seasoned directors bringing their work to life with a brand new cast gathered just days before. Across this year’s New Zealand Improv Festival every cast, crew, and production will come together in unique combinations, creating spontaneous comedy and theatre every single night. With a range of shows and directors, and players from all around New Zealand (and the world!) you’re in for a once-in-a-lifetime treat every time.

The Director
Cale Bain is the Artistic Director of Improv Theatre Sydney and was the Director of Training with Impro Australia, was the founding Artistic Director of FULL BODY CONTACT NO LOVE TENNIS, running longform improv weekly for almost a decade in Sydney.

BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
Friday, October 7, 2016
$18 Full / $15 Conc / $14 Groups 6+
Three show pass $39 / Late shows $10
All performances and workshops at BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce
Book now at  

Theatre , Improv ,

1 hr

A fun and loose late-night trip

Review by Harriet Hughes 08th Oct 2016

“What time is it?!” It’s 11:00pm at BATS Theatre and it’s the home stretch of the New Zealand Improv Festival; players and punters are wired, hyped up on their exhaustion. It’s also Kiddie Time, Cale Bain’s wild and loose children’s theatre for all the adults up past bedtime.  

The stage is littered with children’s toys: puppets, cartoon projections and an arts and crafts corner. Cale bounds around, invites two volunteers to go wild with the craft supplies, and gets the rest of the crowd cheering, “It’s Kiddie Time!” One of the volunteers knocks over the popsicle sticks with a crash and the pair of them start squabbling. As Matt Powell says when a Tommy, a six year old puppet, expresses concerns about some grisly content: this show is not for children. Anarchy reigns. 

Cale’s friends for the night, most of whom are holding puppets, are a rogue’s gallery of Festival players: Matt Powell, Christine Brooks, Maddie Parker, Jennifer O’Sullivan, Jason Geary, Lliam Amor, Rebecca Stubbing, Ali Little, Ronen Zilberman and Linda Calgaro. Cale takes his hands off the reins and sits in the audience, letting these talented improvisers explore a genre that they have varying degrees of familiarity with. 

Pigtailed Jennifer starts us off with a tour of her hometown, drawing on one audience member’s own Newtown landmarks (a bus stop, a New World, a public library) for her own town’s geography. It’s here that the players start to introduce the puppets: big, Sesame Street-like characters who are playfully and recklessly rotated between scenes. There’s an adorable pig, an educational penguin, a bashful dog named Frank and a blue-collar worker, Mr Squaggle, who doubles as a mean visual artist. The penguin teaches us that the Word of the Day is “cheese”, which means we all have to scream whenever we hear it. It turns out we scream a lot.

The improvisers stumble through with a boundless energy, even given all the hiccups that come from being thrown into the deep end. Some of the performers struggle with the careful art of puppetry – mouths don’t move when they speak, puppets keep looking at the floor, and, in one particularly hilarious scene, Lliam fumbles with Frank when invited to complete a picture on a large notepad. Giggling as he simultaneously tries to draw using Frank’s paw, control Frank’s mouth as he speaks and ensure that Frank’s eyes are locked on the picture, Lliam eventually completes a clumsy, magnificent picture of a man holding the Olympic torch, declaring as he does, “Look, I’m not even looking at what I’m drawing!”

Other hiccups are even funnier, with characters talking over each other and people constantly yelling “cheese” so that everyone has to start screaming. Disputes between the puppets boil over, as Mr Squaggle and Frank abuse each other from the side of the stage when the other is in the action, and the tension between the language of children’s theatre and the 11pm timeslot is pulled into focus whenever Tommy, the 6 year old puppet (portrayed wonderfully by Maddie), interrupts to ask Mr Squaggle what the f-word means. 

As with any children’s show, Kiddie Time has some life lessons that are profound and universal, even for the adults in the audience. We learn that “some things are better for some people than other things,” to “always sacrifice yourself” and to “put yourself last”. The cast cheerfully and repeatedly sing this last lesson in the finale, accompanying Linda and Jason’s duet about the benefits of self-sacrifice. Liam Kelly adds playful music on keyboard to accompany each scene, hitting every moment perfectly.

Kiddie Time is a fun and loose late-night trip, thrown together by players who, as Jason says, “haven’t got much sleep” this week. It thrives on the manic energy of these performers, who give their all to a format that draws faithfully on a genre that’s normally much more suitable for all ages; a genre that typically doesn’t have all these swears and mass drownings, to hilarious ends. At the end of the show, when Cale invites the audience to the bar to return to “adult time,” it’s a signal to continue the festivities that Kiddie Time starts and keeps alive and kicking all night. 


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