Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

17/01/2020 - 08/02/2020

Toitoi - Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre 101 Hastings Street South, Hastings

14/10/2020 - 14/10/2020

Toitoi - Hawke’s Bay Arts and Events Centre 101 Hastings Street South, Hastings

31/08/2022 - 31/08/2022

Regent On Broadway, Palmerston North

09/09/2022 - 09/09/2022

Regent Theatre, The Octagon, Dunedin

19/10/2022 - 19/10/2022

Hawkes Bay Arts Festival 2020 (Harcourts)

Dunedin Arts Festival 2021

Production Details

Created for 2020 by Barnaby Olson & companyCreated for 2022 by Barnaby Olson, Jonathan Price, Stevie Hancox-Monk, Andrew Paterson & Tess Sullivan.

Presented by A Mulled Whine

The story of a dog and her man.  

Spellbinding performances & one wild true story return to the stage in a tale of Turkish dogs.

A journey across continents. Turkish Dogs the true story of a mad historian, immortal fishermen, and the Mother of Wolves; border crossings, buried treasure, and the value of companionship.  

It’s an OE like you’ve never seen or heard.

“Barney had been telling his friends this story for months, we couldn’t get enough of it. When we started work on turning it into the show, it revealed a richness and depth that we’re still uncovering. Turns out you can’t tell a simple man-and-his-dog story without getting into identity, borders, centuries-old love stories, and Sir Lancelot.” – Jonathan Price, Director

A cast and crew of versatile, powerhouse creatives have banded together to recreate this heartwarming true story. Joining the original cast is a brand-new design team of Lucas Neal (Hamlet, MoodPorn, Massive Crushes, Alice in Wonderland), Elekis Poblete Teirney (ransom., Flying Down Sand Dunes), and Oliver Devlin (The Children, 2x Wellington Theatre Awards Best Sound Design winner).

Each captivating performer plays multiple roles effortlessly, leaving the audience transfixed. Theatreview reviews the cast as: “A group of exceptional boatyard characters: Stevie is Pea (pronounced Pee-ah) the German, and potty-mouthed Sarah from Dorsett; Andrew is South African Greg and Irish Mike, who is dutifully trying to read James Joyce’s Finnegan’s Wake; Tess – whose face transforms astonishingly and whose comic timing is exquisite – gives us rough-as-guts Ian and one-eyed Joe.”

After a premiere season (with the title The Turkish Dogs Are Racist) at BATS Theatre that stole hearts and garnered three Wellington Theatre Award nominations (Excellence Award for Performance Ensemble, New Playwright of the Year, and Tess Sullivan as Most Promising Newcomer), A Mulled Whine Productions is thrilled to be able to bring Turkish Dogs back to Wellington audiences before it embarks on a several New Zealand tour dates later in 2020.

Join Turkish Dogs on a most magical OE:

A Traveller’s Guide to Turkish Dogs at Circa Theatre
17th January – 8th February 2020
(preview on Thursday 16th January)
7.30pm, Tuesday – Saturday / 4.30pm Sunday
Tickets $35 full / $32 concession / $25 under 25
Bookings from www.circa.co.nz 

Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival 2020

Opera House – Toitoi
Wed Oct 14th:  7.30pm
Adult:  $49.00
Concession:  $44.00
Group – 10 or More Tickets:  $44.10 

Concession = Gold Card Holders, Community Service Card Holders & Full Time Students with ID
Child = 16 Years & Under (selected shows only)
High School Student = (selected shows only)

If you have any issues buying your tickets, please contact the festival office on 06 651 2487 between the hours of 9am – 4pm or email the team

CAST: Stevie Hancox-Monk, Barnaby Olson, Andrew Paterson & Tess Sullivan

Production Design by Lucas Neal
Lighting Design by Elekis Poblete Teirney
Sound Design by Oliver Devlin

Theatre ,

1 hr 10 mins

Thoughtful effortless storytelling and comedic timing


A Traveller’s Guide to Turkish Dogs is an aptly named largely autobiographical play about the self-conscious travels of a New Zealand lad. He finds himself an injured dog during a period of working on a boat in Turkey. The dog needs to be in turn, put down, named (Helena or Helle), healed, given away to a ghost fisherman and recovered, and then smuggled across the border to Bulgaria, which is one of the few countries listed for entry via quarantine with NZ Immigration at the time. The dog was quarantined.

Barnaby Olson is a fluid storyteller and at ease as an actor. The script is laced with dilemmas that occur throughout a flotilla of OE experiences, well-known literature with carefully handpicked excerpts that connect to a deeper and thoughtful plot, and Turkish histories. Of particular note is the seamless shift from Barnaby’s engaging introduction to the bewilderingly quick flips of multiple international friendship-type caricatures.

A Traveller’s Guide to Turkish Dogs is not a large story and neither is the Loft Theatre stage. Yet, set, effortless storytelling and comedic timing captivate us, as audience, in a thoughtful and detailed account of – well probably – the myriad of New Zealand youth who understandably stray away from the heart space of a slightly anxious and loving Mother. Cameos of the narrator’s Mother, played by Stevie Hancox-Monk who switches from one to another character with barely a glitch, are matched by the gusto of their fellow actors. They, Tess Sullivan and Sepelini Mua’au surround and capture the intelligence, hilarity and gravitas presented by Barnaby, simultaneously.

Sullivan switches in riotous modes of an Ian from Nelson, an indecipherable Joe, a non-empathetic vet and a chatty Debbie from NZ Primary Industries – and a wolf! Sepelini embraces the softer gravitas of the play by quoting Finnegans Wake (a novel by Irish writer James Joyce), as Önder the history teacher, or Erhan the fisherman (possibly an apparition), as a gruff Customs Officer on the borders between Turkey and Bulgaria, as-well as various other useful but less picturesque roles. In his Turkish based script, Sepelina introduces an interesting paradox about what is history and what is myth. The dog, an equally pivotal character in the play, is mostly played by the puppeteering of a breathing cardboard box, soft whistles, and an accordion-like breathing contraption. Occasionally the brain action speed of these talented performers is visible in some oddly mixed accents.

With the same mesmerising storytelling gift, Barnaby finishes the show with a gentle roundup about the return to his homeland, and the dramatic entrance of the actual and clearly beloved pooch who may have been waiting patiently in the wings throughout the play.

A Traveller’s Guide to Turkish Dogs may be an experimental, virtually underground show in an underfunded creative environment, but let’s not forget the extensive practice that goes into this pastiche work, and the authenticity of theatre, telling stories of Aotearoa’s connections to the world. Olsen and his collaborators require time and space in the telling of such stories, and in such a  way, transforming travellers’ experience into the theatrical imaginary. Some of this skill building is to be found in the repetitive development from extensive national and international touring. I, for one, look forward to their next rendition.

Created by Barnaby Olson, Jonathan Price, Stevie Hancox-Monk, Andrew Paterson & Tess Sullivan. With special thanks to Elekis Poblete Tierney and Hāmi Hawkins for past seasons, and all of the real characters who gave their stories to this show.

Director: Jonathan Price (he/him), Producer: Eleanor Strathern (she/her)

Performed by: Barnaby Olson (he/him): Barney; Stevie Hancox-Monk (they/them): Prue (Mum) / Sweary Simon from Dorset / Pea the grieving German woman / Helena box puppet / Asena; Tess Sullivan (she/her): Ian from Nelson / Joe who is hard to understand / Vet / Debbie from Primary Industries / Wolf; Sepelini Mua’au (he/him): Önder the History Teacher / Greg the Irishman / Mike the South African / Anne from Book Club / Erhan the Fisherman / Customs Officer

Set Designer: Lucas Neal (he/him), Light Designer: Michael Trigg (he/him),Sound Designer / Composer: Oliver Devlin (he/him)

Season 18 to 23 October 2022


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Inventive, warm and totally original

Review by Ken Keys 15th Oct 2020

What a treat punters are in for at the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival, if A Traveller’s Guide to Turkish Dogs is any indication!

Performed at the beautifully restored Hawke’s Bay Opera House – now Toitoi: Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre – a near capacity audience is captivated by this inventive, high-paced production. 

A typical OE-bound Kiwi (Barnaby Olsen) recalls, and then relives, his eventful world-wide backpacking adventure, mostly in a small Turkish fishing village. There he learns about Turkish ‘history’ from an academic eccentric, learns the language and mixes with colourful characters of various nationalities.

The spine of the story, however, is his developing relationship with a stray, and badly injured, dog, from which ensues a very comic but human and poignant, Epic.  He can’t leave the dog to return home. NZ MPI, while it bizarrely accepts Bulgarian or Romania canines, will not allow in Turkish dogs! “Not on the list,” they say.  His solution sees the epic journey crank up, with corrupt border guards, bribery and, eventually, the beloved animal quarantined for 3 months in Levin.

The super-fast shapeshifting production creates a momentum that keeps the audience engaged throughout, with multiple character changes by Stevie Hancox-Monk, Andrew Paterson and Tess Sullivan – facilitated by a seemingly rickety fishing boat-type construction, on, in, and around which all the fast-moving action takes place, with entries, trapdoor-pop-ups, curtained ‘windows’… Good comic stuff!

A play about a dog HAS to have a dog!  This is cleverly achieved by manipulating a simple cardboard box as ‘The Dog’.  And then … (spoiler averted).

My only reservation is the suitability of Toitoi: Hawke’s Bay Arts & Events Centre for this show. So fast is the delivery of the dialogue that people at the back of the stalls or in the circle have trouble catching it. A smaller venue might have been more suitable.  

Nevertheless, this “story of two strays” is an inventive, warm and totally original piece of Theatre! 


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Strength of vision and generosity sees it told with heart

Review by Patrick Davies 19th Jan 2020

On the face of it, A Traveller’s Guide to Turkish Dogs is a simple story of boy meets dog but, like any good pub yarn, there’s so much more in the telling. This production has been gestating for some time and has had an iteration at BATS. The time taken to craft this crazy tale/tail shows, as we are treated to an onslaught of images, characters and techniques to illuminate, broaden and breathe life into the telling of it.

A Traveller’s Guide to Turkish Dogs traces Barnaby Olson’s adventures on his OE, training and travelling to work on boats in Europe, where he comes across a love of his life: Helena. Olson plays himself while Andrew Paterson, Stevie Hancox-Monk and Tess Sullivan play an astounding myriad of supporting roles, whilst all narrate us through an endless stream of locations.

Lucas Neals’ clever set, (all rope, wood, linen and flags), creates a homely, warm environment easily locating us, via Elekis Poblete Teirney’s excellent lighting, in an array of places. My favourite has to be when Olson is sailing with his love. In such a small dark space Neal provides many satisfying nooks, crannies and opportunities for the creative team to surprise and keep the momentum going. Teirney’s lights are at their best in some highly emotional chiaroscuro moments. Oliver Devlin’s sound design also uses economy well to punctuate and highlight rather than to flood scenes and transitions.

Wrapped around and through Olson’s story are those of antiquity and legend. For me, this is incredibly satisfying; when stories of myths and stories of the everyday meet and show us ourselves we can sense the ordinary in those who have long gone before us. And perhaps this gives us hope of being remembered somehow in the future.

This show does come across as a white story, after all it is a white boy’s story. Hancox-Monk, Sullivan and Paterson don glasses, wigs and paraphernalia over their uniform boiler suits to portray a kaleidoscope of characters. In good ol’ entertainment style they caricature left, right and centre with love (always a fine line before parody becomes sarcasm) so I am intrigued to see how ethnicity is handled.

In the beginning of the play, direct address brings our attention to the performance (‘sounds a bit expository’) and I wonder if, on the arrival of the Turks, we’ll have some direct comment or the same heightened presentation. I think, especially in a highly character fluid peace, the production strikes a very good note in its integrity here. And that is a note that happens again and again: all the characters, even those that are heightened, have a measure of realness and honesty. Such as when you describe someone in a pub story.

Whilst all actors are extremely good, Hancox-Monk dazzles. Mostly during her scenes boxing Helena (pun intended). For those of you who haven’t yet seen this delightful little gem, this will not give away too much. Sullivan’s comic timing is superb, and Paterson’s gravelly voice brings real menace in one of the most tense scenes.

One thing that keeps nagging at me is that this is all familiar. Those of us privileged enough to have done the OE will all have ‘that story’ where we may have cheated death or ended up in the right place of the right time. I suddenly realise this set and this play are incredibly reminiscent of the recent production of Under Milkwood. It’s wonderful to see a ‘Kiwi’ story populated by a cast of colourful characters that tell us a story about the ordinary lifted to grandness.

Jonathan Price’s direction is massive and detailed. Each section of his ‘orchestra’ plays so well with each other it’s hard to not enjoy this production. A lot of productions suffer from their time constraints but the attention lavished here is not just because this cast and crew developed this work; it’s because of the strength of vision to tell it with heart.

My hat’s off to the fifth actor in this piece. The ‘best entrance ever’ may remain a memory for those who attended the opening.

Crazy shit happens when on your OE and in the programme (yay! No longer just a photocopied sheet), both Writer Olson and Director Jonathan Price point out that this story belongs to all the participants. This same generosity pervades this entire Mulled Whine production with each element giving gleefully to each other. 


John Smythe January 24th, 2020

This is one out of the box. Not to be missed.

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