Te Pou Theatre, 44a Portage Road, New Lynn, Auckland

20/04/2016 - 24/04/2016

Production Details

Pirates Vs Ninjas Vs The Evil Vampire Wizards* is a swashbuckling adventure for the whole family, set on the decks of the Golden Vanity. 

Captain Bob (Charles Pierard) and his sidekick Swabby (Chris Tuifua) find themselves on a quest to find a pair of magical socks, teaming up with unlikely ally, Steve the ninja (Michelle Rawlins) on the way. 

This interactive children’s comedy is buckets of fun and a great holiday treat that should not be missed. For adults it’s a chance to treat your inner child. 

Showing at Te Pou Theatre, 44a Portage Road, New Lynn
as part of the Rangatahi Series:
Wed 20 to Sun 24 April 
Wednesday 7pm
Thursday 11am 2pm
Friday 11am 2pm
Saturday 11am 7pm
Sunday 1pm 4pm

Children: $10
Adults: $15
Family Pass: $40
(1 Adult & 3 Kids OR 2 Adults & 2 Kids)

Tickets available at https://www.iticket.co.nz/events/2016/apr/pirates-vs-ninjas 

*[Not the same as Pirates Vs Ninjas by Anya Tate-Manning.]

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

The pantomime style, pirates and silly fights will certainly appeal to children

Review by Leigh Sykes 20th Apr 2016

Playwright Russ King calls the show “a love letter to the inane silliness that I grew up with” and tells us that “this play is mainly about having fun”.  The crew of the good ship Golden Vanity invite us to join in the fun from the very beginning, as Swabby (Chris Tuifua) seems surprised to find an audience in place and asks us to help him out by making lots of noise to call out Captain Bob.

The young (and not so young) people in the audience join in with gusto and Captain Bob (Charles Pierard) duly appears. He and Swabby start the show with great energy, inviting the audience to participate and generating lots of laughter.

Captain Bob sings a song about a cabin boy who was promised a fabulous reward by Captain Hanatee, who looked like a manatee. The rhyming and wordplay as the story unfolds is great fun, and Tuifua does a great job of keeping the pace and the energy high as he reels off rhyme after rhyme. He is not fazed by the odd stumble over words by Pierard, or by the few other occasions where Pierard seems a little forgetful and flustered; appearing a little less polished than the rest of the cast.

As Swabby asks to know more about what happened to the cabin boy, we experience the first flashback of the show, duly announced by wibbly-wobbly arm gestures and accompanying music. This and other examples – such as the doom-laden musical cues and the repetition of melodramatic names or events (the Cursed Island!) – successfully show the cartoon-like style that John Goudge aims for in his direction, and generates knowing laughter in some areas of the audience. 

We are introduced to Captain Hanatee (Jasper Sole) who swaggers through his confrontation with Captain Bob with great energy and conviction, even when he is defeated. Sole’s appearances quickly become the highlights of the show, as he channels (British comedian) Eddie Izzard to portray a wide range of characters. He pitches his performance perfectly to appeal to all sections of the audience without making it seem like hard work. In fact, he seems to be having the most fun of all of the performers. 

From this point on, the show seems divided as it tries to appeal to at least two different audiences. There are some great asides from Pierard (mainly aimed at the adult audience) explaining theatre conventions like flashbacks and later referring to the fourth wall, while Tuifua and Sole continue to appeal to the younger audience with their upbeat energy and invitations for audience participation. 

The story soon introduces us to Captain Bob’s enemy, the Ninja Steve (Michelle Rawlins) who steals the captain’s magic socks, despite the best attempts of audience members to wake up the sleepy Captain and Swabby. This element of pantomime works well and energises the audience. Soon, Captain Bob and Swabby track down Steve, and are stunned to find that she is a girl! They are then confronted by an Evil Vampire Wizard who manages to steal the magic socks again. 

As the quest for the socks continues, the division between the upbeat characters (Swabby and Hanatee / the Evil Vampire Wizard) and the more ‘adult’ characters (Captain Bob and Steve the Ninja) also continues. Steve has an ongoing mission to correct the other characters’ grammar, while Captain Bob draws our attention to the theatricality of the show. Both characters are quite low key in many sections of the quest and the audience is also quiet during much of their action.

The pace of the quest flags until another standout cameo from Sole as [spoiler averted]. Captain Bob and Steve reach the Cursed Island only to [you have to be there] eventually … bringing the quest, and the show, to an end.  

I find the pace of the show uneven and slow at times, and the resolution seems to be a long time in coming, despite the show lasting almost exactly one hour. I chuckle quietly on occasion but don’t feel fully drawn into the world of the performance. However, I am probably not the target audience for this show, and those who are appear to stay focused until the all-singing, all-dancing curtain call.

As a family show, the pantomime style, pirates and silly fights will certainly appeal to children, although the older members of the family may find their attention wandering at times.


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