Tararua Tramping Club, 4 Moncrieff St, Mt Victoria, Wellington

13/04/2019 - 26/04/2019

Production Details

Tim Bray’s adaptation of a well-loved children’s story, by New Zealand’s most celebrated children’s author Margaret Mahy. 

Sam be an ordinary man – and his Mum be anything but ordinary, she be a Pirate!  

Sam has never seen the sea, his Mum reckons he should. Do you? We think it be time for ye to sea!

Grab ye eye patches, fasten ye belt buckles and transform ye selves into scallywag pirates.

This be a story about fun, silliness, freedom, Mum’s, wheelbarrows and sons.

So set sail down to the Tararua Tramping Club and dance a shanty with The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate.

Tararua Tramping Club, 4 Moncrieff St, Mount Victoria, Wellington
13th April – 26th April 2019
Monday – Friday 10am & 11:30am
10am shows only on Saturdays! 
Tickets $10.50 pp, Children under 2 Free
$7 Special Preview, Saturday 13th April 2019

CAST: Amalia Calder, Clare Kerrison, Gareth Tiopira-Waaka, Rob Lloyd

Theatre , Family , Children’s ,

50 mins

Humour, compassion, intrigue and the sheer joy of being alive

Review by Jo Hodgson 15th Apr 2019

Say the name Margaret Mahy and what images appear in your minds eye? For me, it’s a green – wigged eccentric woman in my primary school library in the 70s, a Lion in the Meadow, copious amounts of Jam, witches in cherry trees, boys with two shadows and treasures found down the back of the chair. Evocative poetry, mind altering chapter books and Pirates!! You can’t forget all her wonderful Pirates.

KidzStuff theatre pays homage these holidays to this, now passed, extraordinary national treasure, presenting Tim Bray’s adaptation of Margaret Mahy’s The Man whose Mother was a Pirate under the direction of Hilary Norris.

We are greeted at the door by two colourful and jolly pirates (Amalia Calder and Rob Lloyd) who, once everyone is seated, engage us and entice us into what is to come. They animatedly encourage us to embrace our inner pirate and teach us our special role to play nearer the end of the story, which this preview audience performs with gusto.

The Man Whose Mother was a Pirate is a story of being true to oneself, listening to the sound of one’s heart and following the adventure which this may bring, and I might add – overthrowing the oppressor.

Quiet, respectable brown suited Sam (Gareth Tiopira-Waaka) lives with his vivacious pirate mother (Clare Kerrison) who is yearning to go back to the sea. It calls to her with beautifully harmonious sea siren voices but he can’t hear it. He begs his boss Mr Fat (Rob Lloyd) for leave to take his mother to the sea, which is reluctantly granted with the warning that he will be replaced by a robot (originally a computer) after two weeks!!

So ‘off they set, the little man pushing his mother in the wheelbarrow, and his mother holding the kite’.

Although there are those – like the farmer, his cow Doris and the philosopher (also all played by Amalia Calder and Rob Lloyd) – who try to deter them from the ocean’s call with cries that the sea never stands still and nothing is as wonderful as it seems it will be.

But as they draw closer to the sea, Sam too can hear the siren voices. We see his spirit begin to free as he starts to listen to his own heart. Suffice to say, Mr Fat employs a robot because Sam discovers that the pirate life is for him.

This production stays nicely true to the story, with some elaborations of the characters, and is absolutely delightful. Although, the overly stereotypical, albeit comically theatricised, depiction of ‘Mr Fat’ and his cake eating ways is a difficult one to stomach, all the characterisations and costuming are spot on with a fun set that cleverly transforms for the finale on the high seas.

The additional music by Christine White is catchy but for me the low pitching of it makes the singing delivery lack the same vibrancy and lustre for the actors to cut through, as they do with the dramatised text, although the lyrics are fun and give added depth to their characters and stories. I do enjoy the Winnie the Pooh-like whimsy of the philosopher’s song.

There is plenty of fun and active interaction for the younger (and older) members of the audience to enjoy and the actors admirably manage over-zealous counting, a philosopher’s apprentice arriving on stage and audience spontaneity that can bring hilarious and unexpected deviations from the script. It only takes a few Arrgghh’s , Aye Aye’s and some good farting cow noises, for the talented cast to have us eating out of their hands.

Children’s theatre is for me as vibrant and colourful as a rainbow. Its power to transport through the wondrous joy of storytelling and to tap into the imagination through humour, compassion, intrigue and the sheer joy of being alive is a gift. I love the way it inspires and continues to work its magic long after the piece has been seen. So bringing together Margaret Mahy’s pre-eminent writing with Tim Bray’s creative adaptation and Kidzstuff’s artistry, this is a show not to be missed.


Editor April 17th, 2019

Here is the link to Jo Hodgson and her daughter Rita’s chat on RNZ Afternoons about THE MAN WHOSE MOTHER WAS A PIRATE and PAPER SHAPER:  

Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council