The Great Rugby Robbery

Celebration Theatre, Hagley Park, Christchurch

20/07/2011 - 23/07/2011

Production Details


Riana – a young rugby hopeful – is accidentally entangled in the evil plot of some fed-up former French rugby players (from the RWC 1987 Final) to sabotage the RWC 2011 Final. Ooh la la!

Can Riana save the Webb Ellis Cup from the French? Can she help the All Blacks win Rugby World Cup 2011? Can she do both before the final whistle of this 60 minute pantomime?

No need to run away with the circus… Just come and join us for a fun-filled show! Join in the fun at  

Canterbury Celebration Tent, Hagley Park  
Dates & times: 
11am & 1pm Wed 20 July
11am & 3pm Thu 21 July
11am & 1 pm Fri 22 July
11am & 1pm sat 23 July 

Big, bold and silly

Review by Erin Harrington 22nd Jul 2011

On the eve of the 2011 Rugby World Cup final, the Webb Ellis Cup has disappeared – pilfered by Frenchmen embittered by their loss in 1987. If the All Blacks don’t lose the final, the Frenchment have promised to stomp the cup with an elephant, then run it over with a steam roller.

Enter rugby-mad schoolgirl Riana, who would much rather dream of playing for the ABs and meeting gorgeous captain Richie McAppleCaw than finishing her maths homework. She accidentally intercepts the Gallic interlopers while on a school trip to see the cup and must step up to save the day.

Designed for a schools’ tour, the production gives a potted history of the Rugby World Cup and it aims to show that girls can do anything and that a winning attitude is essential in life. The characters are big, bold and silly and the action moves briskly once the introductory portion is out of the way.

I suspect that the pointed mockery of national stereotypes is more for the benefit of the parents in the audience rather than the kids – “after all, ‘sabotage’ is a French word.” However, as the portrayal of French 1987 try-scorer Pierre Barbizier channels Pepe Le Pew, and as taciturn Richie McAppleCaw is as much buff action man as rugby figurehead, there is enough physical comedy to transcend the generation gap.

I am normally a huge fan of children’s theatre but I have to admit that this production wasn’t quite for me. The script is somewhat paint-by-numbers, and while it pushes all the requisite panto buttons – actions for audience, “he’s behind you!” shenanigans, physical comedy, broad characterisation, goofy jokes and a rousing song at the end – I didn’t feel particularly enthused. Despite the relevance of the content and the actors’ energetic, well-pitched performances (in the lead’s case, battling laryngitis!), I didn’t feel that there was much to set this apart from other entertainment of its ilk.

That said, I am not the target audience. The (predominantly male) children, almost all of whom were hopped up on something sugary, were entertained and engaged with the action and bum-wiggling was kept to a minimum. This production is definitely suited to younger children – some of the older audience members were initially reluctant to join in the silliness.

Christchurch’s Kidsfest is a much-loved wintertime institution and it is excellent to see productions aimed at kids still flourishing despite the post-quake environment. This is bound to entertain the younger set, but not necessarily challenge them. 


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