Tell us a little about Young Herbert’s Horrors. What’s the show about?
Well, Young Herbert lives on a boat with his Mum and likes to think he’s a swashbuckling pirate. He’s a bit of a horror, always leaving his cabin untidy, never eating his greens, and being rather rude to his Mum. Mum doesn’t know what to do to help him be good, so she threatens him with his Great Uncle Albatross, a naval commander and the scourge of all rebels. Herbert thinks Albatross is just one of Mum’s made-up stories, but one day he turns up for real and takes charge of the boat. Albatross attempts to scare Herbert into being good by telling him three nautical cautionary tales, but it’s hard to make the boy change because Herbert just loves “being a naughty, naughty pirate!”
Deep down, the show is really about the relationship between Herbert and his Mum, and the relationship between all children and their parents, about the conflict and the love between us.
What was the inspiration for the story?
My children! Although the story is told predominately from a child’s point of view, the idea came out of my attempts to parent my three young kids.
Sometimes in my desperation to get my children to bed, I’d pretend to ring Inspector Laws and report their naughty behaviour. Then one day my youngest said, “If you don’t stop telling us to get to bed I’m going to report you to Inspector Laws”. That annoyed me! But it also made me laugh and I thought it would be fun to write a story where the children get to take charge of the bogie monsters that the adults have threatened them with. That conversation was the inspiration for me writing the show.
Are you a wannabe pirate in real life?
It’s a poet’s life for me! Though I’ve spent most of my life living by the sea, I’m much happier looking out at it than being on it. But I have a lot of fun on stage playing at being a pirate and the young audiences have a lot of fun with that too, I think.
Why do the issues covered in Young Herbert’s Horrors particularly resonate with you?
Just because there is an ocean of love between parents and their children, doesn’t always make for plain sailing. Some sort of conflict between children and adults is inevitable. So, yes, though in real life I’m neither Herbert the Horror or Herbert’s Mother, I can relate to both. In some ways, this is really a love letter to my children and to my parents.
Does the touring element of the show present any particular challenges? What do you have to consider when bringing the show to different venues?
I don’t drive and travel to all my performances by public transport. This presented Designer Adam Nee and Half Moon’s Production and Technical Manager Phil Clark with the biggest challenge of all. How could they fit all the costume, the set and the props in one suit-case? When you come to see the show and see what comes out of that case – a six foot high boat, a treasure chest and everything inside it – you won’t believe how well they’ve done. Nevertheless the suitcase is still pretty large so it’s going to be an adventure everywhere I travel!
What can audiences look forward to?
I hope that they enjoy a funny and moving story, well told. As well as the great costume and set, we also have some brilliant original music from Greg and Vlad from Greg Hall Music. And there’s plenty of lively language, a chance to “arrgh” like a pirate and some rude humour involving a pair of knickers.
Describe Young Herbert’s Horrors in three words.
Pirates! Parents! Poetry!
Horror, Humour, Heart.
Book tickets here for Young Herbert’s Horrors on Sun 28 April, 11am.