116A Bank Street, Whangarei

12/02/2015 - 15/02/2015

83 Cameron Street, Whangarei

16/12/2014 - 20/12/2014

BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

01/02/2016 - 05/02/2016

NZ Fringe Festival 2016 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

A nonsense tale of wondrous delight for Children, adults and all those yet to decide – inventively retold by A Company of Giants. 

Come and hear the dulcet tones of a lovelorn owl as he serenades his excitable pussycat in the greatest love story of all time. A pea green boat, a whole lot of honey and a little bit of money and a dance in the light of the moon, the moon, the moon.

You’ll cry, you’ll laugh and you’ll be rocked to sleep by the sweetest little blue grass swingers this side of the Bong tree. 

Original music as well as some classics you’ve forgotten about.

Don’t miss out. They are sailing away….

Performed At: 83 Cameron Street, Whangarei

16th – 17th December 11am + 2pm (Previews)
17th December 7pm (Opening)
18th – 20th December 11am / 2pm / 7pm

Tickets: $6 Child / $10 Adult / $5 Previews
Text: 022 1968 153


Back by popular demand! The return season of the show that brought Whangarei to tears of laughter last year, on for one more week this February!

A nonsense tale of wondrous delight for children, adults and all those yet to decide which one they are, inventively retold by Company of Giants.

FEBRUARY 12TH – 15TH 2015
( No late show on Sunday. )

Ticket Pricing
Adults – $12.00 ( $10.00 if you’ve booked. )
Children Under 12 – $8.00 ( $6.00 if you’ve booked. )

Text or Call: 022 1968 153 

NZ Fringe 2016
BATS Theatre – The Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Te Aro, Wellington
7pm, 1-5 Mar, 3pm 5 Mar (60 min)
BOOKINGS: TICKETS: $18/$14/$12/$12

The Company:
Tomasin Fisher-Johnson / Mataara Stokes / Anthony Crum / Lutz Hamm / Adam Ogle / Laurel Devenie / Ash Holwell

Theatre , Children’s ,

Vivacious little triumph a joy to watch

Review by Lena Fransham 02nd Mar 2016

A little jazz ensemble harmonises laconically with guitar and snare drum as the audience gets settled. Fairy lights festoon the word O W L and there’s a microphone stand on a little dais – it’s like the interior of a cabaret. Presently, three members of the ensemble break off into storytelling mode with Louisiana accents, introducing us to Pussycat (enter, slinkily, Mataara Stokes), who’s just too diva for her hokey old hometown of Whangarei.

Cue some Whangarei jokes and some comic incongruity with the southern accents, which have no apparent relevance except for an aesthetic continuity with the jazz-era nightclub set. Owl (Tomasin Fisher-Johnson) on the other hand, has a German accent, which seems to fit the character just right. Odd little quirks like this, I think, ultimately add colour and a sense of every-place to the whole array of impressions. 

When Pussycat meets Owl, we enter a world in which the characters of Edward Lear’s famous poem gain back stories, personality quirks and multi-dimensional relationships. Stokes delivers the sensuous, self-regarding Pussycat with obvious delight. Fisher-Johnson is wonderful and disconcertingly birdlike as a geeky, bobbing Owl. Their tenderness for each other is quite believable. Then we have Anthony Crum’s adorably wistful Piggy-wig, the innovative Bong Tree, and Lutz Hamm’s Turkey, whose blustering, tics and mannerisms are a hysterical highlight.

Directed by Laurel Devenie and Ash Holwell of Whangarei’s Company of Giants, it’s all very pantomime and vaudevillian in feel, breathing cheeky warmth into the panto heritage whilst deftly eschewing any genre cliché and tawdriness. The actors invest their characters with eccentric physicality and playful interactions that, despite being larger than life, retain the spontaneity of their devised origins.

Company of Giants productions tend to have a choreographic quality, combining deceptively random movement, scale replications and physical relationships within multiple, layered spaces: for instance, as if on a whim, Hamm conducts the runcible spoon (a ladle), topped with a paper fan, on a voyage along the front row of the audience, as a simultaneous miniature version of the lovers’ centre stage boat journey.

Onstage accompaniment from musical duo Adam Ogle (who’s the composer of much of the music, and also doubles as the Moon) and Joel Ruys (who is also the Boy in the Moon) and well-integrated songs (some lovely voices among the cast) accentuate the sense of a continuous dance. The similarly slung-together beauty in the costume and set dressing (design Ash Holwell) complement the action as if by accident.

Altogether there’s a rich, dynamic cohesion, and the astute coordination, fine-tuning and cast professionalism that underlie these effects are the more impressive for being inconspicuous. 

This vivacious little triumph is a joy to watch.  I say grab the kids and see it immediately. 


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Endlessly inventive, charming, full of surprises

Review by David Stevens 17th Feb 2015

Much as I admire Laurel Devenie’s work, I wasn’t ready for The Owl and the Pussycat

There’s no good reason why the poem should not be adapted for the stage. If Old Possum’s Book of Practical Cats can make a hit musical, then anything is possible, but I couldn’t immediately see the dramatic potential of Edward Lear’s sweet but slender poem. 

I went because I felt I should. I know a couple the people in it, they have graduated from the Northland Youth Theatre to their own company – Company of Giants – and if nothing else, this production justifies much that the NYT has done in the way of nurturing talent. 

I am very pleased to say that my slight reservations about the show were completely unwarranted. The Owl and the Pussycat is an almost unqualified success; an hour of absolute enchantment and chock full of surprises. 

It begins before the show begins. As we take our seats, a guitarist (a sign says he is The Moon) is strumming, a couple of actors are sitting looking at us, occasionally interacting, and the Pussy Cat is prowling among us, wanting his tummy rubbed. It’s all fun stuff, but then I am surprised.

The Owl takes centre stage and recites the Lear poem in its entirety, thus telling us the whole story.

At the risk of getting academic, this is Brechtian theatre, the controversial ‘Alienation Effect’ – whereby Brecht tells the audience what is going to happen in a scene before the scene happens, thus removing any suspense. If you go to a thriller by Agatha Christie, you don’t expect someone to tell you who the murderer is before the play starts. 

Knowing the poem removes all sense of what is going to happen next, except that, here, it doesn’t. We may know what is going to happen, but we don’t know how it is going to happen. The Owl and the Pussy Cat doesn’t have a lot of story, and to be told what the ending is leaves the performance exposed – everything rests on the performers and their ability to beguile us and to surprise us. 

And beguile and surprise us they do. 

Metaara Stokes was wonderful as the Pussy Cat, completely in command, charming and with a good singing voice. His first song is another surprise to me – not only because of his splendid delivery, but because the song itself is so good. 

The Pussy Cat prowls the streets of Whangarei (the show is locally specific) and chums up with the Owl, and I understand why. Tomasin Fisher-Johnson is just lovely as the Owl, sweetly wide-eyed and questioning, as owls seem to be. 

So they fall in love and fulfil the conditions of the poem: they sail away to the land where the Bong Tree grows – and the Bong Tree is a fine invention – where they agree to get married. So we meet the Pig in a gorgeous performance by Joel Ruys – a charming and funny piggy-wiggy – who agrees to sell them his ring. 

Still true to the poem, we reach the climax: the wedding performed by the turkey who lives on the hill. 

But what a turkey! Lutz Hamm gives a performance that is a tour-de-force, a screeching, indignant turkey, strutting angrily about the stage, in what may be the comic highlight of the evening. I’ve been aware of Lutz Hamm’s work for some time, but never in this mode and if I’ve ever had any sense of his excellent potential as an actor that potential is now greatly expanded. 

And that’s about it, really, although I haven’t mentioned Sepp Schmid – the itinerant musician or ‘the moon’ – who is just that: a splendid musician and a silver moon. I kept hearing Dvorak’s ‘Oh, silver moon’ in my head. 

Laurel Devenie set herself a very high bar with The Odyssey and if Empty City didn’t quite match it (nearly but not quite), this time she clears the bar with consummate ease. The Owl and the Pussy Cat is endlessly inventive, endlessly charming, full of surprises.

I’ve said that it is “almost” an unqualified success, which means I do have a qualification, but it may be me being grouchy. I am puzzled that some of the cast adopted American accents. I have nothing against American accents but still I am slightly disappointed, and keep thinking how much more splendid it would be with Kiwi accents.

That one quibble aside, the show is astonishingly true to the (unlikely) source material. Edward Lear’s poem is described as whimsical – playfully quaint and fanciful – and this show is exactly that. 

Its short run is over, you don’t have a chance to see it now, unless some angel decides that it deserves a much longer life. If that happens I urge you to see it.


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Told with grace, wit and beauty

Review by Jan Fisher and Kelly Johnson 23rd Dec 2014

Just before Christmas The Owl and the Pussy Cat has popped up between the Two Dollar Shop and the Tote and Poke in a disused florist shop in Whangarei’s main street. From the footpath strains of music can be heard; the actors, ‘accompanied by a small guitar’, are singing before their audience of adults (seated on mismatched chairs) and children (bouncing around on cloth covered squabs). The atmosphere is one of excitement and expectancy. 

We sit next to the woman who owns the second hand trinket store two doors up. “This is fantastic” she says.
“What is?”
“The fact that they’ve brought this into town, away from the theatres… and I’m loving this…” She motions towards the Pussy Cat who is moving seductively though the audience, begging tickles. The door to the street is closed signalling ‘house lights down’, the standard lamp in the corner is flicked on and the show begins.

The Owl and the Pussy Cat, performed by four talented actors from The Company of Giants, is in some ways the company’s most mature and magical show to date. This, in no small way, can be attributed to the depth of experience that these young actors have gained in working together over the last three years, beginning with their involvement in the Northland Youth Theatre, to training and working with John Bolton and acting in Auckland’s Young and Hungry Festival this year.

Laurel Devenie has tutored and directed the company throughout this time and this show is a credit to her mentoring and directorship as much as to the skills and commitment of the cast themselves.

Based on the enigmatic poem by Edward Lear, this production is devised entirely by the cast and mixes cabaret, musical and clown. Of particular note are the brilliantly entertaining songs, of which all but two are original.

Mataara Stokes, as the Pussy Cat, prowls between audience and performers, softening the barrier between them and establishes himself as the ultimate feline, adorable and self-absorbed. Tomasin Fisher Johnson’s Owl engages us with her gentle characterisation and beautiful singing which permeates the entire performance.

Lutz Hamm’s Turkey is beautifully crafted and hilarious. Anthony Crum creates an unforgettable Piggy-Wiggy who at once is lonely pig, clown and stand-up comedian, both entertaining and moving.

Adam Ogle’s accompaniment on guitar, mandolin and double-bass is beautiful. It provides the ingredient which ignites the magic of this show.  

Ashley Holwell’s set is simple and effective and the selection of props and clever lighting underscores the travelling troubadour atmosphere. 

The Owl and the Pussycat, as told by the company, is a love story. The central theme: hope. From the opening song, ‘A Little Bit of Love’, the audience feels it and responds.  Local references are given throughout which make us both laugh and grounds us in our time and place. We are treated to a story told with grace, wit and beauty.

We will no doubt be seeing more of The Owl and the Pussycat


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