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The Papertown PaperchaseTHE PAPERTOWN PAPERCHASE
A musical play.
Book, lyrics & music by David Wood.

First produced by the Worcester Repertory Company at the Swan Theatre, Worcester for Christmas 1972. Numerous amateur productions and a puppet version followed. In a rewritten version, Whirligig Theatre presented the pay at Sadler’s Wells Theatre, London and on tour in 1984.

The Salamander, a sort of dragon, is in trouble with the Fire Flies, because he is unable to create a fire by breathing on a pile of sticks.

To redeem himself he is sent on a mission to burn down Papertown.

The paper inhabitants, including the Papertown Crier (a newspaper), the Postman (an envelope), Professor Paperback (a book who runs the bookshop), Mr. Quid (a pound note who is the Bank Manager) and Lady Carrier Bag – gather their resources to meet the threat. Spike the Pen (the litter collector), Fireman Silver, and even the cheeky Litterbug become involved, and the two petty criminals, Blotch and Carbon, are released to join the forces.

In the end, Salamander, who has fallen for timid little Tishoo, joins the paper people in thwarting the Fire Flies, and Papertown is saved from destruction.

David Wood writes : I had always felt that the original version was too long, and welcomed the opportunity to rewrite the play and direct it for the Whirligig Theatre production. It proved to be a spectacular success, with riotous audience participation.


The original production employed twelve actors and two acting ASMs, with doubling.


“… the moment the curtain went up to reveal an imaginative set swirling with smoke, the youngsters were captivated. If Steven Spielberg is the man with the magic films to entrance children into sitting still, then David Wood is ‘live’ theatre’s Spielberg … a winner.”
South Wales Evening Post

“… a roaring success … a play with a good deal of thought-provoking stuff in it … a brilliant theatrical confection, it simply doesn’t have a dull moment. Tip top entertainment.”
Liverpool Daily Post

“THE PAPERTOWN PAPERCHASE provides children’s theatre for thinkers, for those with a sense of fun, mischief and compassion, in a style that is beautifully structured and varied in its pace …

Wood’s way is to take simple every day objects and weave them into a fantasy in which all the essentials are included – baddies to hiss at, goodies to warm to, chases to set spines tingling with excitement … his stories are clear and moral but not pious, for Wood really does engage sympathies and give children an escape to where people love and care for one another.”
The Stage

“… one of Wood’s strongest texts. As with all his plays, the strength is not so much in richness of language, but in the storyline and crossroads with which he peppers the text … it is a neat moral maze, and all the better for that … exhilarating.”
The Guardian

“… an original and inspired plot to create a production which was not only entertaining but educational. From the moment the curtain rose, the young audience was fascinated by the tale of the Salamander banished from the land of fire for failing his fire-breathing test … lessons in the nuisance of scattering litter, the danger of fire and learning to settle problems without violence are cleverly hidden in the play, which is simple enough to capture the children’s imaginations without being patronising.”
Hull Daily Mail

“… packed with ideas … we are bombarded with novel ideas such as the waste paper basket being the Papertown prison, and the firemen being made of silver paper because that does not burn.”
Kentish Independent


The play and piano/vocal score are published by Samuel French Ltd. First Class Professional & Foreign Rights : Casarotto Ramsay Ltd. UK Repertory Rights : Samuel French Ltd. UK Amateur Rights : Samuel French Ltd. US Stock and Amateur Rights: Samuel French Inc.