Sean Burnett Dugdale-Martin
This team of pirate misfits has been performing these characters together for quite some time now and the practice does make perfect. It is easy to see why this team has been receiving grants from NZ on Air each year since 2018 to make music for this act. Manic, occasionally supported by Miss Lucy Drawers and The Great Ebenezer, is a very talented singer and vocal performer; often encouraging audiences to stomp or clap along (and succeeds each time). The guy can also burp on command? Now that’s a crowd pleaser.
Often performed during festivals and concerts, this new theatre show did have some teething problems. It seemed like after each song the performers would take their seats again, the lights would go down, Captain Festus would look inside a case in front of him (which I could imagine housed a run-order list or a script) before the lights come up again and Captain Festus takes to his feet for another monologue to introduce a song, after which they would take their seats again, and on and on we go.
During the end of show applause, Manic speaks up and thanks their crew, the festival and finally us for being here and supporting the show. “This is the second time we’ve ever done the show!” he exclaims, the first time being 3 hours before at the 10am slot, and I kinda wish I’d known that? Tahi Festival does have an “In Development” section in the programme and I’m not sure why this wasn’t in it to manage some expectations.
My main piece of feedback for the team at Pea-Knuckle Productions is I encourage them to create a linear storyline for the show to follow. This isn’t a spoiler because it’s in the programme BUT we know that Captain Festus got mutinied, cool beans, and because it’s a kids show there are some cute moments of Captain Festus explaining the importance of being good to your parents, your grandparents and your siblings over cleaning your teeth or brushing your hair or eating your greens. That’s great stuff! A cool message: what matters more than what you look like is that you treat others with respect and kindness. What if you took that message and made a whole story arc out of it? Maybe the Captain was mutinied because he was a mean person? What if the show was Captain Festus learning that respecting others and being kind is the most important thing, when he thought it was what he looked like and smelled like, and have that journey be a vessel for all the fun, awesome songs?
All in all, an absolute joy to watch! A good whanau show has something for everyone: kids, and the people who take the kids, and the parts of this show that are a little under-developed theatre-wise are more than enough made up for in the tried-and-true musical TALENT the Pea-Knuckle Production team produces. I look forward to scoping out the Captain Festus team at the next large festival, running amok and singing shanties!
Captain Festus McBoyle - The Prose and Cons has finished its season at BATS Theatre but you can find more info at their website here. You can also book them for parties!