Tag Archives: Les Petits Theatre Company

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs

Captain Flinn And The Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutlass


Christmas in Leicester Square

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs

Captain Flinn And The Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutlass

Christmas in Leicester Square

Reviewed – 10th December 2019



“a colourful and creative hour which contains enough energy, adventure and poop deck jokes for the little ones without them getting restless”


Dastardly dinosaurs creating swashbuckling mayhem on the ocean deep can only mean another popular children’s story is translated from book to stage as part of Leicester Square’s Christmas activities.

Captain Flinn and the Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutlass, one of Giles Andreae and Russell Ayto’s adventure series featuring the same lovable characters, is brought vividly to life by the Les Petits Theatre company in this fast-moving and fun adaptation by Oliver Lansley.

Jollier than the Jolly Roger and with as many ho-ho-ho’s as there are yo-ho-ho’s this show in the Spiegeltent blends imaginative set (Zoe Squire using items from a school gym, such as ladders, benches and a trampoline imaginatively) with awesome puppets and costumes (Max Humphries and Zahra Mansouri), catchy songs (Jack Graham Thomas) and lively performances from a tireless cast of four.

The company presented the first Captain Flinn book on stage six years ago so are familiar with the characters and prehistoric pirate puns already, adding energy and zest to this sequel.

Those familiar with the books will know about the kids at St Barnabas Primary School and their teacher Miss Pie who, as the show opens, are staging a low-cost drama about Captain Flinn and the pirates, complete with crash helmets, sieves and oven mitts as part of their dinosaur costumes.

But even as the budget-friendly T-Rex enters with a roar of, “We’re a T-Rex from the last crustaceous period!” the pupils lose interest, recognising that real dinosaurs were “bigger and horribler.”

And so enter the “real” dinosaurs as the fierce and vain Mr T the T-Rex kidnaps Flinn and his friends to help him find the magic cutlass which grants unlimited wishes to those who find it (though as Mr T has smudged the paper telling him about it, he is convinced he is hunting for unlimited fishes).

lt’s a colourful and creative hour which contains enough energy, adventure and poop deck jokes for the little ones without them getting restless (the recommended age is three years and above) but there’s also plenty to hold the attention of the adults, such as the DJ Rocktopus fishcotheque populated by rave jellyfish (an inventive use of bowls and fluorescent scarves) and the charming shadow puppetry.

Along the way there’s the ever-present threat of walking the plank or being tossed into the sausage machine, which provides the staple diet for the hungry pirate dinosaurs.

The four-strong cast must be exhausted with lots of racing around and efficient quick changes in what is presumably a relatively small backstage space, but the vivacity never once sags.

Mark Middleton gives the somewhat terrifying antagonist Mr T vulnerability and a personality one wouldn’t expect in such a larger than life dino costume. He also plays the schoolteacher Miss Pie, despairing as the production gets out of hand, and hoping to resolve the chaos by singing a tribute to her cat Harold.

Tom Myles is a fabulous Flinn, the young action hero with a stiff upper lip and a leadership verging on petulance, doubling up as Terrence the pterodactyl terror of the high seas. There’s a delightful tender moment when he loses his nerve and calls for mummy, which in turn leads to some careless wish-making and turns out to save the day.

Ellie Pawsey is both the brave Pearl and Tracy the triceratops, while Stephan Boyce is the nervous Tom and Stephen the stegosaurus. There isn’t much opportunity for individual characterisation, but the cast members work well together to keep the attention rapt, injecting some healthy silliness when things get a bit too scary for the wide-eyed young audience.

Director Hal Chambers ensures a rollicking pace, setting a boisterous level from start to finish.

There’s a picture to colour on the programme, but it’s worth checking out the Les Petits website, where you can also download a range of fun activities related to the show.

This X-tremely entertaining adventure marks the spot with a buccaneering holiday treat that is something to treasure.


Reviewed by David Guest

Photography by Gail Harland


Captain Flinn And The Pirate Dinosaurs: The Magic Cutlass

Christmas in Leicester Square until 5th January


Recently reviewed by David:
Bruised Fruit | ★★★★ | Drayton Arms | August 2019
Anna Bella Eema | ★★★ | Arcola Theatre | September 2019
Room Service | ★★★★★ | Bread & Roses Theatre | September 2019
The Hound Of The Baskervilles | ★★★★ | Abney Park Cemetery | September 2019
Homing Birds | ★★★★ | Tara Theatre | November 2019
The Arrival | ★★★★ | Bush Theatre | November 2019
Goldilocks And The Three Musketeers | ★★★★★ | Battersea Arts Centre | December 2019


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Review of The First Hippo on the Moon – 4 Stars

Hippo on the Moon

The First Hippo on the Moon

Pleasance Courtyard – Edinburgh Festival Fringe

Reviewed – 8th August 2017





“Fun, dynamic and well-paced, the show also had a take home message, to ‘dream big’”



Les Petits Theatre Company’s stage adaptation of David Walliams’ The First Hippo on the Moon was not aimed at me (a twenty-one-year-old single graduate who isn’t generally inclined towards being amused by scatological humour), but that didn’t stop me taking pleasure in its well-executed silliness and imaginative realisation.

The plot is simple and engaging; a big for his boots hippo, Napoleon Heracles Waldorf Franklin the Third, has a dream – to be the first hippo on the moon. He is puffed up by his own sense of self-importance and presumption that he will succeed. Then we meet Sheila, a hippo from more humble, earthly beginnings, who reveals to her lively crew of jungle creature friends that Napoleon ‘stole her dream’ from when they were at school together, and teased her for ever daring to dream so big in the first place. And so Sheila’s quest begins to beat him to the moon, with a lot of help from her friends.

Combining puppetry and catchy songs (I’ll overlook Silver Bob the monkey’s Jungle Book rip off as positive derivation), the cast electrically and convincingly inhabit their animal roles, transporting and manipulating their puppets with nimbleness and ease. Their skill was delightful to witness, particularly in the space scenes, when they whizzed about with star and rocket paper puppets, accompanied by much ‘whooshing’.

Special commendation must go to the actress playing Sheila, who was so convincing in her giant hippo costume that my disbelief was wittingly suspended. The set was creative and agile, and the moveable palm trees were whisked out of the way to make room for a huge, cratered moon, lit by a background of glimmering fairy light stars. Truly magical.

Lighting was creative and exciting, and the packed auditorium of children were captivated. The script had plenty of plays on words, good for slightly older children as well as for adults – a particular favourite was the mention of a giant orange elephant, called ‘Donald Trunk’. And, of course, I cannot forget the abundance of poo jokes, which involved some audience participation – ‘excrement work’. It literally fuelled the production …

Fun, dynamic and well-paced, the show also had a take home message, to ‘dream big’, no matter what your background. That friendship is what is important, and that it’s ‘not where you come from or where going to, but who you are going with’. If you’ve got kids, go and see it. And if you’re twenty-one and at a loose end, take all your friends along.


Reviewed by Eloïse Poulton

Photography by Richard Davenport for The Other Richard




is at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe until 20th August



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