Pirates Ahoy! - The Treasure of Monster Island

Wellington Performing Arts Centre, Wellington

03/07/2007 - 14/07/2007

Production Details

Written by Dan Ashworth
Designed and directed by Rodney Bane
Musical Director Carey McDonald


Pirates Ahoy! – The Treasure of Monster Island is a lively and exciting new play by Dan Ashworth that follows the exploits of the villainous, two-timing, treacherous, treasure-hunting Captain Squid and his fight with his rival – the ferociously fierce Fenella, the Pirate Queen! They each want to find the treasure and keep the gold, silver, diamonds, rubies, emeralds and lots, lots more all to their greedy little selves.

Unwittingly caught up in the hunt is young Jim, who, while exploring the sailing barc ‘The Swift Sea’ when it was in port, fell asleep and was taken to sea and discovered too late to turn back! Jim becomes the cabin-boy and having managed to avoid walking the plank – thanks to Kala, the Captain’s daughter – is accepted as a full member of the crew, although reluctantly.

The treasure chest is hidden on Mata Tomo – the Monster Island – where the ship runs aground. However, the crew, now joined by Fenella, encounter the island’s protector – the fabled monster with the unpronouncable name – and a secret. Will the monster share this secret? Will he spare the crew? Or will they become a tasty treat?!

Join the fun and find out in this interactive show with lots of singing, dancing and audience participation.

Leading the cast is Phil Darkins as the dastardly Cap’n (Phil was last seen as Puss in Puss in Boots). His daughter Kala is played by Jill Meek, who featured as Rose in Badjelly the Witch. Newcomers to KKT, Liz Kirkham is Fenella, Pirate Queen, and Jim is played by Danny Battershill. Topping off the cast is KKT regular Matty Clayton as the monster – Matty played Dulboot in Badjelly.

The show is designed and directed by Rodney Bane. This Dan Ashworth (who features as the Narrator) original is a must-see and will be presented at KKT’s new venue the Wellington Performing Arts Centre, level 1, 36 Vivian Street. Shows are at 11 am and 1 pm on weekdays and 11 am only on Saturdays. Bookings: phone (04) 934 4068.

Captain Squid - Phil Darkins
Jim - Danny Battershill
Kala - Jill Meek
Fenella the Pirate Queen - Liz Kirkman
The Monster - Matty Clayton
Narrator/Captain Snapper - Dan Ashworth

Lighting: Bex Weatherhead
Sound Ops: Tessa Alderton
Choreographer: Frith Horan

Theatre , Children’s , Family , Music ,

Fanciful piratical fun

Review by Thomas LaHood 10th Jul 2007

Aharrr!  Parents beware!  This be a typical tale of treasure-hunting, with suitable shanties, that will probably make your little bilge-rats eager to quit kindergarten and head for the high seas.

The story is penned by Dan Ashworth, who also takes to the stage to introduce and conclude the play as salty sea-dog Cap’n Snapper.  This alone is a bravura performance, played with a hint of madness, ancient mariner-style.  Ashworth’s script is true to generic pirate lore, a simple tale of rival pirates in search of a lost treasure guarded by a mythical monster.

The rival pirates, Cap’n Squid (Phil Darkins) and Fearless Fenella (Liz Kirkman), double as mother- and father-figures to brainy buccaneer Kala (Jill Meek) and accidental stowaway/cabin boy Jim (Danny Battershill), which no doubt aids accessibility for under-fives but doesn’t really extend the story by way of subtext – probably a good thing.  It’s a fun ride that doesn’t need a whole lot of morals and messages weighing it down.

The language is delicious, full of tongue-twisting and swarthy oaths.  There’s a lot of dialogue, and probably about fifty percent will just go in one ear and out the other for most kids, but no matter, it’s great pantomime ham and is delivered with relish by the cast with many swashbuckling sword-flourishes in accompaniment.  On the day I attended, most of the audience was from the IHC childcare centre and they were caught up in the tone of the piece, interjecting the occasional ‘Aharrrr!’ from the stalls.

Of the cast, the standout performance is Kirkman as the Pirate Queen.  Bold and beautiful, and displaying some quite impressive sword-handling skills, she commands the stage with ease from her very first appearance hiding on Cap’n Squid’s poopdeck.  Darkins also performs with strength and vigor as Squid, playing up the ‘stupid dad’ element of the character with impeccable timing.  Both show a seasoned pantomime sensibility, with Kirkman especially keeping an even keel through physically demanding slapstick and hammy dialogue alike.

The younger cast fare less successfully, although very well cast for appearance and physicality.  Meek defies her last name in the role of Kala, playing with all the spunk and petulance required by the character, but her vocal skills are not quite equal to the task.  We lose a lot of her text and therefore much of her character.  Battershill plays the quintessential cabin boy in ‘Jim-lad’, a geeky, earnest foil to the flamboyant pirate family, but he falls into the young performer’s trap of straining his lines, becoming red-faced and difficult to follow.  At times his background activity onstage also distracts from the main action.

Matt Clayton delights as the lisping, vegetarian Gitakombinajamokavanakraka, at once the most straightforward slapstick performance in the show and the character with the most genre-busting, referential humour.  Clayton gets it just right, standing out as ‘other’ in the tight ensemble but without breaking the boundaries of the show’s world.

The song and dance numbers are robustly piratical and artfully constructed, blending shanties of old with modern pop numbers to create perfectly suitable new material, played live by a stripy-shirted and ‘kerchiefed Carey McDonald.  Frith Horan’s choreography is sprightly and well-executed by the cast, although a couple of slapstick moments fall flat here and there.

The lighting is more or less inconsequential, and the set pretty awful, but director Rodney Bane has obviously concentrated on the action and performance, and in the end this proves more than enough to keep us engaged with the story.

Finally, the cast manage the audience participation component of the show with aplomb.  The moments are well chosen, the communication is clear, and the pace of the show is not compromised by the audience’s involvement.  It is this, on top of a fun and fanciful show, which suggests that Kapital Kids Theatre is a name we can associate with quality.


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