Museum of Wellington City & Sea, Wellington

17/02/2012 - 26/02/2012

NZ Fringe Festival 2012

Production Details


Premiering at this year’s New Zealand Fringe Festival isSeaofStoriesby Seadog Productions, a wild tale of puppets, sirens and storms, told promenade-style at the Museum of Wellington City & Sea.

Inspired by the myth of Orpheus and interviews with a workingNorth Seafisherman, the play explores growing up, saying goodbye and the changing face of today’s fishing industry. On a windswept North Sea coast, Freya’s father is the last working fisherman in her village, and when he’s lost at sea it’s Freya who sets sail to rescue him from the underwater underworld of her childhood stories. But voyaging to the ocean’s end isn’t half as tough as getting back…

Featuring home-grownWellingtontheatre-makers alongside artists with experience overseas includingLondon,New YorkandMelbourne, the company combines skills in puppetry, devising, children’s theatre, neo-folk music, Noh theatre, contemporary dance, contortionism(!) and much more, to create captivating theatre for the whole family (children 7+).

Part of the Museum’s ongoing Death and Diversity exhibition, the play takes place on the Museum’s maritime floor, with existing artifacts and architecture and artifacts used to create the worlds that the audience move though. The show is koha but capacity is limited so booking is essential.

Museum of Wellington City & Sea
February 17-19th and 23-26th,
Sundays at 5pm, all others at 7pm.
For more information or to book, call (04) 472 8904 or visit  

Sarah Andrews Reynolds – New York / Oakland (US) / London / Wellington
Sarah Cattle – Wellington
Sophie Cradwick – Wellington
Rebecca Fenlon – Coventry (UK) / Wellington
Sarah Hegarty – Havelock North / Wellington
Helen MacKenzie – Wellington
Thomas Rimmer – Tauranga / Wellington 

Puppetry Associate
Catherine Swallow – Taupo /Wellington

Set/Costume Designers
Wai Mihinui – Wellington
Jaimee Warda -Wellington

Lighting and AV Designer
Julia Campbell –Wellington

Laura Bridges –London /Wellington

Graphic Designer / Marketing Assistant 
Francesca Gleisner –Wellington

Technical Assistant  
Zachary Gleisner –Wellington /London

"I couldn’t help wondering why a local story wasn’t being performed"

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 23rd Feb 2012

Sea of Stories – a simple, unsophisticated story developed from an all too real event: the decline of the British fishing industry – is perambulating theatre. The audience is led past the exhibits of the Museum of Wellington City & Sea, upstairs and downstairs, and then stopping on staircases, landings and other convenient spaces to follow the story of a young girl whose father is washed overboard in a terrible storm.

The story is told with a deliberate naivety while at the same time dealing with the young girl’s full realisation of the meaning of the death of her father and the passing of an age-old way of life. The story is at times story-book fantastical and it is told with the use of rod puppets, mime, song, and pop-up book scenery.

However, as we passed through the museum I couldn’t help wondering why a local story wasn’t being performed.


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Charming and interesting moments amid lack of build and uneven pace

Review by Helen Sims 20th Feb 2012

The Museum of City and Sea holds many stories, and it becomes the venue for a story about the sea and those who make their living from it. The narrator who leads us around the museum opens a story book to begin the story. 

Despite the Antipodean displays all around us, the story is set in a small fishing village in England, where a young girl called Freya has spent all her life. Freya’s father and just about everyone else she knows is a fisherman. Her father has led her to believe that her mother was from the sea, so Freya is half from the land and half from the sea.

Commercial fishing boats and dwindling catches force her father to fish in perilous places and Freya is left behind on the land for days on end while her father and Uncle Bernie battle the perilous waves to try and sustain a livelihood. When tragedy strikes Freya sets off on a quest that brings her into confrontation with the sea and all of the stories she has been told about it.

On opening night the story moved along in somewhat bumpily due to a failure to anticipate the time and space needed to move the audience from one part of the museum to another. Hopefully this is ironed out over the course of the season so the show flows more smoothly. Although a narrator (Rebecca Fenlon) ably guides the audience between scenes, perhaps she could be relating the story as we move rather than wait until everyone is assembled in a new spot.

I wasn’t sure if the cast, who devised and play, were constricted as to the extent they could use the museum, but it was more of a backdrop than an integrated part of the play. I also spotted some missed staging opportunities. Given the play charts stages of Freya’s life, I was surprised the levels of the stairs weren’t used in a more structured way. Additionally, the final scene takes place in a strange underworld, but the bottom level of the building, with its other-worldly red lights weren’t used. It seemed as if the cast and crew had not had much time in the space.

The cast put in uniformly charming performances, especially Thomas Rimmer as Freya’s father. Sarah Cattle as Freya has a difficult role to play as a young child, and occasionally came off as dim witted rather than naive. Freya’s extreme naivety, which indicates she is a very young child, also stretches credibility as she is left alone for days and has the physical strength to launch a boat and row it out of sight of land.

Other cast members play a number of roles, including fisher-folk, sea sirens and an underworld scribe. Thick English accents falter a few times, and I wondered if the show really needed to be set in England. 

One of the highlights of the show is a cast sung sea shanty, during which some good puppet work is done to show parts of the story taking place in several settings. Simple paper puppets are used at a number of other points in the show. They are also not entirely seamlessly integrated into the play, but a clever layer of symbolism is revealed near the end of the show.

There are some truly charming and interesting moments to this work; however, it ultimately suffers from a lack of build and extremely uneven pace. At first it seemed like the show is pitched at children, but at a late point in the piece it gets quite complex and metaphysical. Despite this, young and old should enjoy this show and it is great to see a site specific work, although it needs some work in order to keep an audience of any age engaged for the entire 55 minutes.  


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