Emil and the Detectives Slingsby

Kids Holiday Program

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Emil logo

By Erich Kästner, adapted for the stage by Nicki Bloom

Never underestimate the determination of a child! Young Emil catches a train to visit family in the big city. Something valuable is stolen. But the thief soon discovers Emil was not such an easy target. A group of quick-thinking and resourceful children rallies around. Can a bunch of kids work together to uncover and outsmart the true criminal?


I’m Emil.
Emil Tischbein.
I live in Newtown
With my mum,
Who works hard as a hairdresser to earn enough money for us both.
My dad is dead.
I don’t have a brother or a sister.
It’s not that I don’t like the other kids at school
Some of them can be mean, and I’d just rather be on my own, ok?
It’s the school holidays, which are my mum’s busiest times
And she trusts me with an important job.
She has saved up her money to give to my grandmother
Who lives in the city.
So much money
One hundred and fifty.
And I’m in charge of delivering it.
This will be my first time away from home by myself.
Mum gives me a badge that used to belong to my dad
And I use it to pin the money safely to the inside of my jacket pocket.
Mum takes me to the train station where I board the train to the city.
I wave to her as the train pulls away.
In the carriage there’s a man wearing a bowler hat
Who seems friendly
But he’s also kind of strange.
He says his name is Mr Grundeis.
He offers me a cup of tea
And I drink it
But then I start to feel sick and before I know it –
Everything starts to look weird and I can’t stay awake anymore.
When I wake up
The train is at the big city station.
The man in the bowler hat has left the carriage.
My badge is still in place
But when I check my jacket pocket
There’s nothing there.
The money has gone.
That man has taken it.
I have to follow him.
It’s not easy keeping track of someone in a big city
And I nearly lose him dozens of times.
I think about going to the police, but –
I can’t.
Because of something I did at home
I don’t want to talk about it.
I don’t know what to do
I’m all alone in a city I don’t know
And I have no money
But then
A horn sounds in my ear
And that’s how I meet Gustav.
I tell him what has happened and he offers to help.
Gustav honks his horn again
And all the kids in town come running
We hatch a plan.
We will all work together
To track down the thief
And get my mum’s money back.
It’s not easy.
There’s a lot we have to learn together along the way.
And in the end
I learn the most important thing of all…



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Slingsby is supported by the Government of South Australia through Arts South Australia, and by the Australian Government through the Australia Council, its arts funding and advisory body.

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  • Reviews:

    The company’s theatre productions always have a sense of wonder and magic, and Emil and the Detectives delights, intrigues and astonishes its audience...Emil and the Detectives is an outstanding piece of children’s theatre which makes it an outstanding piece of theatre and an experience to be savoured by all.

    - InDaily - Greg Elliott (July 24, 2017)
  • Event Details
    Date & Times:
    Coming to Gasworks in 2022 (Subscribe to our Kids Holiday newsletter for updates)

    Full $33
    Family (group of 4+) $28

    Tickets can also be purchased over the phone at 03 8606 4200 or in-person at our reception office (Mon-Fri 9.30am-5pm).

    Running Time:
    55 mins approx, with no interval
    Gasworks Theatre
    Adults and children aged 8 years and up.
    Wheelchair Accessible
    Lighting effects, haze and smoke effects.
  • Gallery
  • Credits
    Andy Packer, Animation Direction by Luku Trembath
    Stacey Baldwin
    Danielle Catanzariti and Tim Overton
    Set & Costume Design:
    Designer: Wendy Todd, Costume Designer: Ailsa Paterson, Lighting Designer: Geoff Cobham, Technical Design: Chris Petridis
    Andy Ellis
    Quincy Grant