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July 14, 2008 | by  | in Theatre | [ssba]

Hinepau & The Snow Queen

For those of us who were starting to wonder why the hell all of these skateboards, hoodies and loud laughter have materialised on Cuba St during the daytimes this past week, you probably won’t be surprised to learn that it is school holidays. So, for those of you who know or have children of your own, why not shuffle them down to some of the great kids theatre that’s on offer?

Hinepau, at Capital E, is a well-executed re-staging of a play based on a story-book by Gavin Bishop. Hinepau is mistrusted by her tribe because of her red hair and green eyes. After an incident involving some bizarre flying flax-works, she is cast out of her tribe and must fend for herself in the forest. However when the mighty Mountain God is angered by her ex-tribesmates, it is Hinepau who rises to the challenge and restores the land.

The story of Hinepau struck a surprisingly deep chord with me, in part because of Erina Daniel’s superb and warming portrayal of Hinepau and in part because Hinepau is simply the kind of girl I’m prone to falling in love with. She’s smart, funny, pretty hot and, most beguiling of all, misunderstood. Aw, don’t worry, Hinepau, you can come stay with me if you want…

Inappropriate attractions aside, the design elements of this production were what really made it stand out. Glenn Ashworth integrated some great visuals, especially the backdrop which incorporated mountains, owls and tree branches, all of which had a distinctive picture-book charm. Puppetry also features prominently, and Rebekah Wild has constructed some excellent renditions of native birds which look great. However, the best feature for me was the soundtrack, composed by Stephen Gallagher, which used a wide scope of sounds ranging from modern, roots-inspired singing to the exciting sound-effect of a mountain eruption.

The Snow Queen, produced by Kapital Kids Theatre and performed at the Wellington Performing Arts Centre, is another of the shows on offer for the school holidays. This one is much more caricatured and cartoon-like – you might say it’s more what you would expect from a kids show.

The story revolves around a little boy, Kay, who is captured by the villainous Snow Queen and taken back to her castle. The boy’s friend, Gerda, misses him and eventually sets out on a rescue mission, meeting all sorts of interesting friends along the way. The cast of five do an excellent job of portraying a total of fifteen characters.

Variety certainly is the spice of the day here. As with Hinepau, there are some cool puppets (these ones are Goblins), an array of Kings, Queens, animals and plants, and plenty of songs.

But the older I get, the more I am bothered by the hidden meanings in these kinds of fairy tales. Hans Christian Anderson, upon whose story this show is based, was by no means writing the sugary Disney tales which are presented today. Think about it, people. A tall and alluring woman ‘takes little boys back to the castle’, where said boy happily remains until his jealous friend comes looking for him? Let’s just say that would expect him to come back a bit more of a man than he was before…

If you have kids, or know somebody who has kids, then do take them to one of the shows that are in Wellington for children. Most places in New Zealand will have a show tour through a couple of times a year if they are lucky, but in Wellington we are spoiled for choice – so take advantage!

Based on the story by Gavin Bishop
Original production directed by Rachel
House and devised with the original cast
Directed by Murray Lynch
At Capital E
July 5 – 19

The Snow Queen
Based on the story by Hans Christian
Adapted by Anna Burns
Directed by Bea Lee-Smith
At the Wellington Performing Arts Centre
July 7 – 19


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