Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington

07/07/2015 - 18/07/2015

Production Details

An adventurous tale of magic, friendship, heroism 

We all know the Arthurian tale about the sword that was magically placed into the stone and whoever removed it would be the true king of England. 

This story follows a young boy named Arthur as he journeys into the heart of the forest in order to find the legendary sword, and help Merlin find the true king. Along the way, he and his new friend, Hex (a beautiful girlish spell made by Merlin), encounter many tests to prove their worth as leaders: tests of bravery, kindness and decisiveness. 

At Gryphon Theatre
from the 7th to 18th of July,
weekday shows 11am and 1pm,
Saturdays at 11am only.
Tickets are $10 each
or $9 for groups of 10 or more.

Book your tickets by phone 934 4068 or at:

Rhythm/Arthur:  Eric Mazzie
Harmony/Hex:  Olivia Daniel 
Merlin:  Caryl Illana  

Writer/Director/Technician/Designer:  Aaron Blackledge
Musical Director:  Natalie Hunt
Choreographer:  Kira Josephson
Producer/Front of House:  Rodney Bane

Theatre ,


Review by Ewen Coleman 09th Jul 2015

Kapitall Kids Theatre’s The Sword In the Stone is another well known story freely adapted for the stage. However, while it has the potential to be an interesting one, a number of elements in this show don’t quite work. 

The wizard Merlin (Caryl Illana) has a sword which he plunges into an anvil on a stone and declares that whoever can withdraw it will be king.  Many in the audience try but can’t, so Merlin sends the young Arthur (Eric Mazzie) on a quest. To aid Arthur he conjures up an elf-ike creature Hex (Olivia Daniel) to travel with him. Eventually Arthur finds the sword, withdraws it and is crowned king. [More


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A magic-free zone

Review by John Smythe 08th Jul 2015

Because Kapitall Kids Theatre operates as a co-operative it qualifies to be reviewed as professional. So be it. The first thing to say, then, is this second performance in the first day of The Sword in the Stone was amateurish.

I am breaking Theatreview’s house style by talking about it in the past tense – and we probably broke some other cardinal rule when another critic, the Producer, the Director and I found ourselves in animated discussion out the foyer about the production’s shortcomings. They were avid for feedback, however, and I have since been advised that key issues have been addressed, so those will be mentioned in the past tense. 

Drawn from Sir Thomas Mallory’s Le Morte d’Arthur (pub. 1485), The Sword in the Stone is the title of T H White’s 1938 novelisation of the King Arthur legend (part of his tetralogy, The Once and Future King) which was in turn adapted as an animated feature by Walt Disney Productions in 1963. But this stage version does not attribute any of those sources (although snatches of dialogue do seem familiar).

The set – by Writer/Director/Technician/Designer Aaron Blackledge – is busy: a cluttered bookshelf containing an old-fashioned radio and clock; a wing-chair, telephone … We’re talking 1950s here, not the Camelot era, let alone the time before. Upstage right, on stepped rostra, is a splendidly wrought anvil embedded in stone.

The costuming is also 1950s era. Merlin (Caryll Illana) first appears as a grumpy magician in a winceyette dressing gown, complaining about the stage not being ready. His assistants – Harmony (Olivia Daniel) and Rhythm (Eric Mazzie) – wear glittery waistcoats and get the young audience chanting along while they busy themselves tidying and sweeping, none of which has anything to do with the story to come or its themes. As a warm-up sequence it needs to be more on topic, even though the 5-8 year-olds are generously keen to play along.

For much of the time the acting is lacklustre, although each actor does step up at times, so it’s not as if they can’t. Illana has flashes of aliveness, Daniel is at her best when singing and Mazzie is suddenly ‘present’ when he is dancing. Why their energy and focus drops at other times is either the cause or effect of their not having mastered and ‘taken ownership’ of the text, which therefore sounds convoluted and overwritten.  

The story eventually finds its humdrum way to the key proposition: that the ‘KKT Kingdom’, which we inhabit, is in dire need of a new King who shall, according to prophesy, reveal himself when he pulls the titular sword from the stone – or rather the anvil embedded in the stone (which is in the film and maybe in White but not, I think, in Mallory).

“Whoso Pulleth Out This Sword of this Stone – and Anvil – is Rightwise King Born of All England” is how it goes. Having put the sword in place, Merlin awaits the arrival of one he knows will come: a sequence that is dramatised in a singularly undramatic way.

Having changed costume in the wings but visible to most of the audience, along comes Arthur (Eric Mazzie) with his little Tintin backpack, the most lacklustre ‘hero, to grace the stage of any holiday show I’ve ever seen. And Merlin conjures up a magical helper called Hex (Olivia Daniel) to help him on his way.

Speaking of magic, it is promised and called for umpteen times throughout the show but nothing magical happens – or should I say happened, in the hope some modicum of theatrical magic at least will be present in future performances.

The most glaring problem was that the titular sword in the stone remained visible to the audience throughout, so when Arthur and Hex went looking for it and asked the audience to help, the kids of course obliged with “It’s behind you!” But the script required the actors to trudge through many pages – wherein Arthur was tested for bravery, kindness and decisiveness – before they could acknowledge the help they were being offered. Despite the insult, the ever-trusting kids shrank back and went along with the lesser fare being imposed but the adults found it laughable (not in a good way).

Even worse, when the sword was finally found, there was no ‘magic moment’ of discovery. Arthur simply walked up to it, pulled it out and walked off stage: damp squib incarnate. Infinitely more dramatic were the smacked gobs in the back rows.

Earlier in the show selected children had been asked up to have a go, thereby proving the sword could not be extracted. Obviously Arthur, with his now-proven qualities, needs to offer the honours to them again – or to others – before realising he alone has the power and stepping up to his responsibilities. And don’t send him off to don his robe and crown – bring the baubles of office to him!

Kira Josephson’s choreography is the most polished part of the show. But overall the best thing about The Sword in the Stone is that it proves how much we take for granted in the crafting and performing of other holiday shows on offer. It’s great that the Kapitall Kids Theatre team are willing and keen to get it right but bewildering that no-ne could see what had to be done during rehearsals.

(It also has to be noted that Blackledge is in the habit of casting American – or people who learned their English with Amercian accents – in his productions: two of four in The Marvellous Adventure of Jack and Daisy; two of three in this one. The convention of updating classic tales and performing them in Kiwi accents to a Kiwi audience is, of course, an honourable one, because it offsets the surfeit of American product we are subjected to on TV. The Sword in the Stone, however, is a fundamentally English story – which most Kiwi actors would readily rise to, if required. So it’s a shame that those with American accents appear to be inflexible, thus imposing an irrelevant cultural dimension on this production.)


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