Tag Archives: Matt Leventhall

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


Click here to see our most recent reviews


Drowned or Saved? – 4 Stars

Drowned or Saved

Drowned or Saved?

Tristan Bates Theatre

Reviewed – 8th November 2018


“a moving and powerful theatrical experience”


Primo Levi, who died in 1987, was an Italian-Jewish Holocaust survivor and the author of a number of respected works including an account of the year he spent as a prisoner at Auschwitz concentration camp. Drowned or Saved? is a new play written and directed by Geoffrey Williams that not only pays homage to Levi’s message of humanity, compassion and perseverance but also forces the audience to never forget the systematic murder of six million Jews. Whilst it is difficult to conceptualise that number of people, it is easier to understand one person’s story and in essence, this is what the play focuses on.

The audience is greeted by Levi in his sparsely furnished study. There are some books and a Menorah, a symbol of Judaism since ancient times. He is restless and unable to sleep. He struggles to get closer to a character in a story he cannot complete, so he delves into his haunting memories of Auschwitz and recalls characters he met.

Marco Gambino is perfectly cast as Primo Levi. He commands the stage and wonderfully conveys the tormented soul Primo has become. Equally talented, Paula Cassina plays his loving wife Lucia and also their housekeeper Mrs Giordanino as well as Vanda, a close friend of Primo’s who died alongside him on the train to Auschwitz. Alex Marchi takes on six very different character roles and is able to successfully switch between them, often in the same scene. The final cast member is Eve Niker who has the difficult task of conveying, with no words, the disintegration of an inmate in those terrible conditions. Primo knows her only as Null Achtzehn (translated to 018) due to him recognising part of her camp serial number.

Designer Baśka Wesołowska has created a simple but effective set with wooden slatted walls which adapt with the play’s timeline, from a study to a train wagon and finally to the camp. Rachael Murray’s sound design flows well and the lighting (Matt Leventhall) helps create a smooth transition backwards and forwards in time.

Amongst the outstanding storytelling, there are some moments that don’t quite work. Those not able to understand German and Italian, as well as Jewish tradition, may at times feel slightly isolated from the content. Equally the ending, whilst incredibly emotional, left the story slightly unfinished and I felt more could have been told about Levi. However, the writing and direction from Geoffrey Williams is commendable. Whilst the piece will appeal to a wider audience, it is certainly unmissable for those with an interest in the Holocaust, history or indeed with a Jewish background.

Drowned or Saved? clearly it isn’t a light hearted piece. It is however a moving and powerful theatrical experience covering a horrific, yet important, part of modern history that should never be forgotten.


Reviewed by Steve Sparrow

Photography by Ewa Ferdynus


Drowned or Saved?

Tristan Bates Theatre until 24th November


Previously reviewed at this venue:
Love Me Now | ★★★★ | March 2018
An Abundance of Tims | ★★★½ | April 2018
Lucid | ★★★★ | April 2018
Meiwes / Brandes | ★★★ | April 2018
The Gulf | ★★★ | April 2018
San Domino | ★★ | June 2018
The Cloakroom Attendant | ★★★ | July 2018
Echoes | ★★★★★ | August 2018
Love Lab | ★★★★ | August 2018
Butterfly Lovers | ★★ | September 2018
The Problem With Fletcher Mott | ★★★★ | September 2018
Sundowning | ★★★★ | October 2018


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