360 - a theatre of recollections

Civic Theatre, cnr of Queen Street & Wellesley Street West, Auckland

16/01/2014 - 25/01/2014

Production Details


Critically acclaimed, publicly revered and yet to be performed in its native Auckland. Against all odds, one of NZ theatre’s most innovative productions arrives at The Civic as 360 enchants audiences from January 13th.

Travelling back through the memories of a prodigal son, 360 tracks the series of events that led to his final departure; his memories paint a vivid portrait of a family who are funny, exquisitely melancholic and charmingly clown-like. Expect the unexpected as two worlds collide when the son opens the same door he closed behind him years before.

Created by Chapman Tripp award winners, Carl Bland, the late Peta Rutter and Ben Crowder, 360 is filled with larger-than-life characters and surreal situations, as the intimate audience sits on the vaunted stage of The Civic Theatre, enclosed in a proverbial bullring as fireworks, song, dance, a life-sized seal and the rest of the action unfolds around them.

With a capacity of only 80 per show the audience is literally at the heart of action; seated on swivel chairs they are surrounded by the huge circular stage. As you spin and swivel to follow the turn of events on stage it is near impossible not to be drawn into the constant surprises of theatre magic courtesy of some of the country’s most experienced designers working at the very top of their game.

Upon its debut at the New Zealand International Arts Festival, Wellington 2010, the production earned rave reviews from media outlets across the board. The NZ Listener stated “there is no one word or phrase to describe the extraordinary theatrical experience that is 360. What comes to mind are hackneyed superlatives: brilliant, stunningly original, a tour de force. All, in this instance, are true.Lynn Freeman, current presenter of Radio New Zealand’s Arts on Sunday programme, called the work “…a thrilling theatrical experience […] from a fuse that runs around you to a swan that swims past you, to someone being blown out of a cannon over your head.

The strong reviews also travelled northward; the NZ Herald Online’s Mark Amery explaining “To tell you too much about the surprises that this work pops up continually […] would be to damage the experience. Suffice to say they left the audience grinning like blissful goldfish as they went round and round in life’s fishbowl.

Where it’s 2011 season never came to fruition, the yearning for this Auckland show will finally be satisfied after a four year wait, as the cast of seven take to the roulette-wheel like stage for this long awaited Auckland premiere.

With a strictly limited capacity, this show will sell out – so book now!

Featuring: Gareth Reeves,Andrew Grainger, Olivia Tennet, Milo Cawthorne, Rosalie van Horik, Adam Gardiner and Bruce Phillips.

360 plays:
13th – 16th & 21st – 23rd January 2014, 8pm
17th, 18th & 24th – 6pm and 9pm.
25th – 2pm, 19th – 4pm
The Civic, Corner Queen Street and Wellesley Street, Auckland CBD
Tickets: $25 – $48 (*Service fees will apply)
Bookings: Ticketmaster – www.ticketmaster.co.nz or 09 970 9700 

This project was commissioned by the New Zealand International Arts Festival and the Auckland Festival. The 2014 Auckland season is delivered in partnership with THE EDGE. 

Theatre , Circus ,

Coming full circle

Review by James Wenley 16th Jan 2014

I’ll begin in a round-about way. If you’ve heard anything about 360, you’ve likely heard about the unusual stage and seating: we are enclosed in a pit bordered by a circular stage, seated on swivel chairs bolted to the ground.  We 80 privileged few are on the stage of The Civic itself, but we could be anywhere, so enclosed are we by the globe of 360. It’s not unlike feeling you are in a planetarium, though the projections of these earthbound bodies – blazing too brightly – are only just beyond us.

It’s potentially gimmicky, but the creators of 360 – Carl Bland, Peta Rutter and Ben Crowder – have far greater designs for the audience. There’s a definite novelty factor as we begin the show, spinning this way and that, but soon I feel integrated in the world around me. It’s a great hook to get bums on bolted-swivel seats, and I have never experienced a theatre show quite like this before. [More]


Make a comment

Theatre in the round from a whimsically surreal perspective

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 16th Jan 2014

Auckland’s 2014 theatre season kicks off with a revival of a startlingly original show that premiered at the 2010 International Arts Festival in Wellington.

A very clever staging concept places the audience in the centre of a donut-shaped space and swivel chairs allow you to follow the action swirling around the circumference of a raised ring.

This inversion of customary perspectives is enhanced by placing the event on the main stage of the Civic Theatre which at one point delivers a spectacular view of the empty auditorium. [More]

Link to reviews of original 2010 production.


Make a comment

Engaging, funny, touching and conceptually original

Review by Nik Smythe 15th Jan 2014

Written by Carl Bland and (also dedicated to) the late Peta Rutter, and co-directed with Ben Crowder, 360 offers a unique insight to the workings of human memory – both figuratively in its poetic, dream-like tone, and literally with its original reverse-round seating arrangement: the audience seated in the centre on swivel chairs, looking out as the action proceeds all around them in a fitting physical analogy to the act of recollection itself. 

Bruce Phillips is Old Man Gee, here tonight to remember his life and family, beginning where he is, at the end. Exactly what he wants us to take from his recalled experience is as nebulous as the memories themselves, as numerous themes interplay throughout the surreal narrative – family, ambition, style, existentialism, discovery, loss, joy and regret.  Perhaps the most significant element is one incidental character’s astute recognition that memories are inevitably ‘swaddled in imagination’. 

With that observation clearly stated it’s difficult, and ultimately redundant, to identify where Gee’s imagination supersedes the reality of events recalled.  In his earliest manifestation he plays the drums for his small family’s variety circus act, but like the restless teenager he is, he yearns for something more.

Andrew Grainger’s ostentatious, clown-like Father encapsulates the pomp and vigour of a circus ringleader, perhaps not entirely empathetic to the hopes and dreams of his offspring but nevertheless caring and generous in his own way.  Olivia Tennet plays Gee’s sister with determinedly child-like intensity, choosing to cherish her personal fantasies in favour of realistic planning, such as her desire to become a seal when she grows up.  

As the eccentric intellectual older brother, Adam Gardiner personifies the cerebral, philosophically observant tone of the play itself as he describes his own effective process for recalling facts, and how things get lost in limbo when said process is not properly followed. 

As likeable as they are, the whole family seem somewhat estranged from one another, the only clear recipient of their unconditional love being their beloved pet seal, given life through the exemplary physical performance skill of Rosalie van Horik.

The physical resemblance between naïve, opinionated young lad Gee (Milo Cawthorne), middle-aged strutting poseur Gee (Gareth Reeves) and sagaciously reflective Gee the elder (Phillips), is quite credible indeed.  The latter appears somewhat unimpressed by the self-important grandstanding of his younger personae, particularly in the face of the mysterious, obviously tragic news received on his mobile in mid-brag about what a success he claims to be. 

I wonder how intentional it is that the younger Gee has a superficial demeanour that matches the pantomime style of his family and other incidental characters encountered by ‘Mid Gee’ on his homeward journey, who himself expresses more depth by degrees, particularly during moments of introspection.  By comparison the old man – present-day Gee – is the most natural performance, rooted in the classic standpoint of ‘if I knew then what I do now’.

The feature that has everyone talking however is the exceptional production design as developed by the best in the business: music and sound design maestro John Gibson; costume design extraordinaire Elizabeth Whiting; consummate lighting designer Nik Janiurek; definitive set design veteran John Verryt.  Their collective achievement defies verbal description. Like all good artworks the production speaks for itself better than any second-hand account could hope to manage.

Ultimately 360 is more of a philosophical inquiry into the themes mentioned than it is an anecdotal sequence of events – all the 70 minute production’s prevalent themes, ideas and insights exponentially combine to an endless level of potential analysis. 

The distinctive characters and specific plot, such as they are, evoke a paradoxical universality that anyone and everyone will likely find an aspect they relate to, and it all occurs at such a pace that a repeated viewing would be welcome to clarify certain points. 

Most importantly, it is highly engaging, funny, touching and conceptually the most original theatre I’ve experienced in years.

Link to reviews of original 2010 production. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council