Caribbean Pirates at Polly Woodside is a fun, family-friendly live production by The Australian Shakespeare Company, the theatre troupe which has brought The Wind in the Willows to the Royal Botanic Gardens for almost 30 years. And while the latter is a summer tradition for Melbourne’s families, I think the Caribbean Pirates might be an even better show – mainly because it’s set around and on Melbourne’s historic tall ship.
All little kids seem to be fascinated by pirates and the show takes all of the well-known tropes – the ‘ahoy me maties’, eye patches, sword fights and villainous captains – and turns it into an engaging 60 minute show.
There’s lots of interaction, with singing and roaring encouraged, and both Baby 2.0 (3 years) and Lady AB (5 years) were fully engaged, doing the actions and shouting at various intervals. There are enough adults-only jokes to keep grown ups entertained too. My favourite – a quip about the singing group as being ‘straight out of Compton’.
The set up is great – little kids at the front on the mats, grown ups in seats at the back and a few picnic tables that you can sit/stand on. Most of the audience is under cover, facing Polly Woodside. Baby 2.0 roamed around the audience’s spaces at various stages, no problems, so you don’t have to force kids to sit still. The stage and the performers are between the audience and the water so you don’t have to worry too much about kids falling in (though of course keep watch).
About 45 minutes into the performance the kids are encouraged to go aboard the ship to hunt for lost treasure and some of the action takes place on the boat. If you choose not to go aboard you can still hear and see the action from the seats.
After the performance you can have your photo taken with the pirates and visit Polly Woodside for an extra $5 per person. The Boatbuilders Yard is a handy pit stop before and afterwards, especially as there is plenty of pram access, high chairs, a sandpit, blocks and kids menu.
- take public transport – Southern Cross station and tram stop at Crown Casino is closest;
- if you must drive, park at Melbourne Convention Centre or DFO South Wharf;
- You can take prams right to the audience area but if you need to sit a little person inside a pram you will have to park it by the side (possibly in full sun);
- visit Polly Woodside after the show for extra $5 per person instead of $16/$9.50 usual entry prices;
- bring hat/sunscreen if you’re not able to get a seat under cover and a cardigan as it can get a little breezy on the water; and
- eat at The Boatbuilders Yard afterwards – pram access, high chairs, a sandpit, blocks and kids menu.