Red Riding Hood

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

12/11/2010 - 11/12/2010

Production Details

What a big smile you’ll have …

The team that brought you the pantomimes ‘Cinderella’, ‘Aladdin’ and ‘Jack & the Beanstalk’ returns with a special Dunedin version of one of the great traditional fairy tales – that all time favourite, ‘Red Riding Hood’.

There’s the innocent Red herself; her widowed mother and poor, sick, short-sighted Grandmother. There’s a handsome Doc worker, a dastardly property developer, a double act of bumbling ex-politicians. And of course there’s that villain of all villains, the wolf!

Be prepared for frantic chases, running gags, much pillow-plumping, loose floorboards, packets of prunes and musical goodies in Red’s basket as she sets off on her journey to entertain young and old with this terrific, traditional Christmas treat.

12 November – 11 December, 2010

Don’t miss the fun and frolics of this year’s panto. Grab your family and everyone else’s – why not make up a street party?
BOOK NOW: phone 03 477 8323 –

Grandma Hood: Stuart Devenie
Sir Roger Bounder: Peter Hayden
Mother Hood: Clare Adams
Red Riding Hood: Abby Howells
Lance: Hadley Taylor
Morris: Anna Henare
Boris: Mark Neilson
The Wolf: Patrick Davies
Set Design: Matt Best
Lighting Design: Garry Keirle
Costume Design: Maryanne Wright-Smyth
Sound Design: Rebecca De Prospo
Choreographer: Louise Jakeway
Stage Manager: Rebecca Tapp
Assistant Stage Managers: Audrey Morgan, Olivia Kelsey, Alexandra Ross, Eryn van Dyke
Properties: Louise Jakeway, Karen Elliot
Lighting and Sound Operators: Garry Keirle, Rebecca De Prospo, Louise Jakeway
Set Construction: Peter King, Matt Best
Rigging: Southern Lights: Garry Keirle, Stephen (Sooty) Kilroy, Janis C Y Cheng
Artwork: David Elliot
Graphic Design: Marti Rowe: Speedprint
Production Photographer: Victor Jarque 

Panto promise of fun kept for young, old alike

Review by Barbara Frame 18th Nov 2010

People go to pantomimes to have fun, and fun was what the Fortune Theatre audience was having on Saturday night. 

The storyline, recognisable characters, over-the-top costumes and silly songs provide plenty to keep kids laughing, while in traditional pantomime fashion innuendoes of a more adult kind, and topical allusions, fly over their heads to keep the older folks thoroughly entertained. 

It all centres around Grandma, played resplendently by Stuart Devenie, who lives in a dear little cottage in the Ross Creek Reserve, Maori Hill side of course. Patrick Davies is marvellously athletic as the wolf, but the wolf isn’t the biggest menace.

The real trouble comes in the slimy form of Sir Roger Bounder, (Peter Hayden, managing to be truly loathsome) who intends to trick Grandma and Mother Hood (Clare Adams, looking and sounding like a true women’s-magazine devotee) out of their houses, chop down all the trees and build Dunedin’s second stadium.

Red Riding Hood (sweetly and resourcefully played by Abby Howells) and boyfriend Lance, who’s a DOC worker and Jinty MacTavish fan (Hadley Taylor), with help from Boris and Morris (Anna Henare and Mark Neilson), manage to steer everyone and everything towards a happily over-contrived ending.

Roger Hall has to be acknowledged as New Zealand’s supreme writer of pantomimes, and while I didn’t think this one had quite the sparkle of 2008’s Jack and the Beanstalk, I enjoyed it. The assistant reviewer, who is six, had a splendid time.

Director David Lawrence makes sure the inventive silliness never flags, Matt Best and Maryanne Wright-Smythe keep the set and costumes up to the Fortune’s usual high standards and Garry Keirle’s lighting design adds visual impact. Music by Michael Nicholas Williams, lyrics by Paul Jenden, and musical direction and performance by Julia Horsnell round things out nicely.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.


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Bawdy brilliance with extra prunes

Review by Sharon Matthews 15th Nov 2010

Well it’s not Uncle Vanya, but I loved it! Director David Lawrence’s trademark is, I quote, “existential angst-ridden soul-searching” theatre. However, in his director’s notes he pre-empts any concerns that might be felt about his suitability for pantomime by passionately defending the role of accessible, escapist theatre to excite the imagination and "comment in a seemingly inoffensive and apolitical way" on the problems of the world.

I agree, as I’m a HUGE fan of cross-dressing, double entendres, implausible plots, physical comedy, and extravagantly costumed song and dance routines. But only if done well.

Fortunately (ha! bad pun) this is pantomime done superlatively well. Lawrence’s obvious relish for the form is well matched by the energy, passion, and commitment of his cast. The origins of pantomime go back to Ancient Rome, where bawdy and rowdy theatrical performances were banished by the onset of Christianity. Well, the pagans are alive and well and behaving badly, making cracks about South Dunedin, elder abuse, global-warming, the irrelevance of house-cleaning, and prunes.

Apparently, Lawrence’s formative theatre experiences involved being taken to see in his father in drag as an ugly sister in Cinderella. I am not sure what demons from the past are being evacuated here, as 2010 Arts Laureate Stuart Devenie may be a ‘Grandmother’ but he ain’t a lady! I am aware of the conventions of drag performance in which you refer to the performer as “she,” but although he might have been a man in a frock and high heels, Devenie discards as irrelevant any semblance of soft femininity, rendering his attempted seduction of Sir Roger Bounder (Peter Hayden) deliciously grotesque. 

His relationship with his daughter, Mother Hood, played by the always outstanding Claire Adams, sets a new benchmark for the theatrical depiction of dysfunctional family dynamics, and their performance of the song ‘Man Shortage’ . . . ., well, words fail me. The description of the pair of them as predatory, does not even slightly encompass the depths to which these two are prepared to sink in their search for … ahhh, ‘companionship’.

Putting up a brave fight for her share of the stage is their daughter /grand-daughter Red Riding Hood. Newcomer to the Fortune, Abby Howells, plays the young innocent hero embarking on the journey towards individuation. Or, in her case, the discovery of a name independent of her clothing.

Her sweet voice and energetic performance, and with her blonde hair and red lipstick a sly take on stereotypical feminine iconography, is well matched by Hadley Taylor as her love interest, DOC worker Lance. Taylor digs deep into his repertoire of charming young man-mannerisms, channelling various eco-warriors and tenderly teaching a morepork how to sing. With, this being panto, the help of assorted audience members, two sweaty park keepers, and an assortment of soft toys, some of which appeared to have been liberated from the nearest toybox.

What would panto be without a good villain! And in Sir Roger Bounder – property developer and banker to distressed gentle-folk, performed by Peter Hayden – we have a villain as graciously evil as a discerning audience could want. And of course, since the plot is (loosely) based upon the traditional fairy tale, we also have the Wolf.


Patrick Davies is dazzlingly nimble and delightfully unfrightening, leaping out of bushes onto unsuspecting picnic baskets, and giving the audience as many opportunities as possible to shout: “He’s behiiiiind you!”

Anna Henare and Mark Neilson, as Boris and Morris, valiantly attempt to catch the Wolf, whilst providing catering, advice for the lovelorn, tree-felling, and so forth, are absolutely outstanding physical comedians. They work together seamlessly, juggling a dizzying flurry of snappy dialogue and much comic play with pots of glue, mousetraps, and strings of sausages. Their byplay as the aggressively French company catering Sir Roger’s dastardly dinner dates is worth the ticket price alone.

O, and the songs! Lyrics by Paul Jenden; music by Michael Nicholas Williams, signification for any experienced panto-goer that lyrics will be crisp, songs will be catchy, and under the musical direction of Julia Horsnell, performed with brio and dash.

So, ladies and gentlemen, boys and girls, all the elements required in a pantomime, and in generous quantities. With extra prunes. Go and see it, it won’t change your life, but it will definitely help with during-recession-post-traumatic stress disorder. O, and if you sit in the front row, watch out for Grandma’s chamber-pot! 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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