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Caribbean Pirates at Polly Woodside: Review

Home > Melbourne > Family | Fun for Children | Outdoor | School Holidays | Theatre
by Dayna Chu (subscribe)
I'm a freelance writer and primary school teacher living in SE Melbourne. I love finding adventures for myself, my husband and our four kids to enjoy. Come along! Heart my articles, subscribe to the fun, follow along on
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Avast ye buccaneers; all hands on deck at Polly Woodside
caribbean pirates, polly woodside, shakespeare

A stolen treasure map, a gypsy pirate, sword fights, and potty humour: what more could a kid want? And all on board a true blue Aussie ship, the enchanting 1885 tall ship, the Polly Woodside.

Inclement weather shouldn't let the wind out of your sails, the audience area is mostly covered, and many seats are provided as well, unlike two other Australian Shakespeare Company plays currently playing (The Wind in the Willows, and Alice in Never Neverland), which are more picnic affairs. The show will go on even with light showers (pending weather warnings).

caribbean pirates, polly woodside, shakespeare

Get the "new recruits" to dress in their pirate best, as the show is very interactive; the kids get a chance to explore the ship, as they search for treasure and Captain Cutthroat, with their crew of scallywags, Empty Drawer, Major Key and Scurvy Dave.

caribbean pirates, polly woodside, shakespeare

While there is an epic adventure to be had for the whole family, I'm not sure that I would make this an annual tradition. Talented cast, definitely. Stage and setting, unparallelled. I did, however, find that the potty-mouth humour extended on for too long; I found large portions of the script sadly lacking in maturity, which got on my nerves really quick (the boys loved it, of course, but there is a way of appealing to the senses of the younger crowd without completely losing the adults). There were also two scenes that some viewers may find disturbing, and I wasn't expecting them at all. A severed mannequin head is pulled out of a laundry hamper, followed by a 'bloodied' severed leg, and an arm, which Captain Cutthroat caresses and explains, in song, that it was his wife. I had some explaining to do to my seven-year-old son (he didn't think they were real, but even the inference was a bit much). The second scene was a full body skeleton being drawn up out of the water, in a cage, which then hung from the side of the ship, while the Gypsy Pirate explained that this was her brother, and this was her unresolved strife with Captain Cutthroat.

Some great lessons were included, which helped recover the plot: gender discrimination was addressed, and a feel-good happy ending had the crew skipping out to the beat of a different drum together.

If you have never been, yo, ho ho and away you go! A pre-show talk with your little land-lubbers may prevent some of the shock-factor of the aforementioned scenes if you think they need it.

caribbean pirates, polly woodside, shakespeare

Monday 19 Thursday 22 January: 10am
Friday 23 and Saturday 24 January: 10am & 6pm

It's worth noting that if you are attending a 10am show, you can tour the Polly Woodside after the show for an extra $5.00; payable on site to the Polly Woodside staff. Maybe decide after the show though, as the kids (and parents if you follow along) do get a pretty good exploration during the show).

Bookings: 03 8676 7511 or online at or Ticketmaster 136 100

For great cheap parking, I found the best spots to be at 474 Flinders Street, or 522 Flinders Lane; if you book 15 minutes or more in advance (online or with the app), you can get evening and weekend parking for as low as $4 flat rate.
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Why? To find ye some gold and get the treasure map back
When: Monday 19 Thursday 22 January: 10am;

Friday 23 & Saturday 24 January: 10am & 6pm

Phone: 03 8676 7511
Where: Right at Polly Woodside: 21 South Wharf Promenade, South Wharf (near the Melbourne Exhibition Centre)
Cost: Single tickets $25 (adults and children), group of four tickets $90; under one year: free
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