A Criminal Christmas

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

05/12/2011 - 18/12/2011

Production Details

A Christmas show so funny it’s criminal… 

This Christmas, The Outfit Theatre Company, in association with STAMP at THE EDGE, are delivering their Christmas present early, a raucous and riotous festive farce to help put shopping nightmares and end-of-year stresses on hold.

Let Outfit Theatre help you laugh it out in the best way possible with their latest show, A Criminal Christmas, by going where no Kiwi Christmas farce has gone before… a rest-home.

As part of an innovative new community service rehabilitation-through-theatre scheme, a dysfunctional group of rag-tag criminals are sentenced to spend their Christmas Eve providing entertainment for the elderly residents of a financially-troubled rest home. With the slimy rest home director determined to see them fail, and the performance fast approaching, the crims must put their differences aside and join forces to create their own version of the traditional Nativity story. 

The method is simple; take a setting that we’re all familiar with, load it with a powder-keg of the funniest characters possible, add a little conflict, light the match and watch as all hell breaks loose in an explosion of hilarity. 

“It’s going to be ridiculous, laugh-out-loud and a breath of fresh air for the pre-Christmas rush” says producer Ema Barton. “We are having plenty of fun creating a bunch of kooky crims, rest home staff and residents. It’ll make you feel like no matter how crazy your family gets at Christmas it’ll never be as nuts as this”. 

The Outfit Theatre Company recently touted as “one of Auckland’s slickest young companies” and whose sold-out 2009 Christmas farce, The Office Xmas Party, was described by Theatreview as “an utter explosion of fun” have shaken up another comedic cocktail in A Criminal Christmas

With more than 10 successful shows under their belt since 2008, The Outfit Theatre Company are building momentum with a growing reputation for fast-paced, laugh-out-loud ensemble theatre. Not afraid to tackle taboo subjects or push the envelope with shows like The Sex Show – a sold-out smash hit at the Auckland Fringe 2011. The Outfit also have a knack for creating fun, action-packed shows for the whole family to giggle over, such as Treasure Island and King Arthur.

The company pride themselves on their unique devising process which is collaborative between the cast, director and crew a key ingredient, being their ‘Resident Ensemble’ of 25 actors, writers and directors who make up the majority of each cast. 

“We have been working together for years, share a similar sense of humour and are like family, so creating shows together is great because we share a common language. We have built up trust and a comfortable environment in which to play in which always makes it fun” says Ema. 

Earning the auspicious reputation of being New Zealand’s most rowdy theatre company, The Outfit, with their genre-spanning and critically acclaimed shows offer a certain style expected of them – boisterous, bawdy, raucous and universally-entertaining. When it comes to letting-off that end-of-year steam, this is definitely the crowd you want to party with.

If the maddening Christmas rush gets you stressed, A Criminal Christmas is surely the best medicine, so let this rowdy bunch of gifted comedic performers distract you from your festive woes and enjoy an end of year farce so funny…. it’s Criminal.

A Criminal Christmas
5 – 18 December
Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, THE EDGE
Monday – Wednesday 7pm, Thursday – Saturday 8pm,
Sunday 6pm (no show Monday 12 December)

Bookings at 0800 BUY TICKETS
or www.buytickets.co.nz
Adults $30, Concession $25, Preview $20 (service fees apply).
Special group prices and catering available.
For group bookings, call 09 357 3354 or groups@the-edge.co.nz

Andrew Ford
Pete Coates
Jacqui Nauman
Chris Tempest
Colin Garlick
Gypsy Kauta
Stef Lawrence
Anoushka Klaus
Chris Neels
Mick Innes

Design by
John Parker
Brad Gledhill 

Crazy Christmas night of actor-driven fun theatre

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 09th Dec 2011

Outfit Theatre’s Christmas romp opens with a premise that is guaranteed to generate mayhem: a troupe of six seriously psychotic criminals on a community service programme are obliged to stage a Nativity play in a seedy resthome while a couple of con artists are plotting to murder the bewildered owner of the institution.

A bizarre collection of delinquent characters make the most of the abundant opportunities to cause trouble and the ensuing chaos is ramped up by recurrent bouts of accidental drug-taking.

The absurdist flavour of the farce is neatly enhanced by John Parker’s set design which features a backdrop of 12 doors – each one different but all painted in institutional pastel green and given a Kafkaesque edge by the sharp shadows of Brad Gledhill’s lighting design. The play cleverly toys with the conventions of a traditional farce with convoluted plotting, mistaken identities and plenty of slapstick silliness. [More


Make a comment

Stress-relieving absurdist fun in frenetic spaghetti of activity

Review by Aidan-B. Howard 07th Dec 2011

Like many people, I hate Christmas. And I particularly hate the flood of schmaltzy, feel-good, same-old stories that this season brings. But the editor of this site urged me to set my cynicism aside. This play, A Criminal Christmas, he assured me, would be different… and he was right.

Essentially, a group of convicted persons can avoid prison time if they do some social entertainment for charity, in this case a nativity play at an old-folks’ retirement home (and that is where the Christmas idea starts and stops). The play is not to be taken seriously: it has no secret message, no interlinear call to a moral decision, no application ‘to find’ something of ourselves.

It is simply over-the-top fun, as secret plots get disclosed and foiled. At times the plot borders on simple insanity (from a barking, stoned Eastern European to a female baby Jesus dressed as a flamingo). Picture a pantomime for adults only, complete with profanity and stark nudity.

The Outfit Theatre Company are graduates from the UNITEC drama course, and while inexperience may leave a little of the acting unpolished, it is still nevertheless a polished performance. They work together very well as an ensemble cast, dealing with the organised chaos and the slap-stick. The timing of the virtual ‘choreography’ in this frenetic spaghetti of activity is spotless.

However, one of the cast, Chris Tempest (‘Petrokak’), seems most of all to understand the concept of ‘absurdity’, while being somewhat akin to an amalgam of Peter Sellers, John Cleese and Borat. (He also looks very cute naked!) 

A Criminal Christmas is a very funny play, well written, unserious, fast and a great relief from the stresses and pretentiousness so habitually found at this time of year. You will enjoy it and laugh a lot! I certainly did!  


The Outfit Theatre Company December 8th, 2011

See also:




Editor December 7th, 2011

Thank you Matt - now corrected.

Matt Baker December 7th, 2011

The Oufit Theatre Company are actually graduates from the UNITEC drama course.

Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council