BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Understudy Bar, Wellington

14/02/2014 - 22/02/2014

Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington

23/04/2014 - 03/05/2014

Production Details

Something to amuse and perplex you between the shows over at BATS Theatre.  Wander over to Understudy Bar and see what’s behind the curtain!

NZ Fringe 2014

Dates: Feb 14, 15 (Fri, Sat) and 21, 22 (Fri, Sat)
Times: Two 10 minute shows a night – one at 7.30pm, one at 9pm 
Place: Understudy at BATS Theatre, on the corner of Cuba and Dixon Streets 
Entry by koha 
No need to book – feel free to reserve a spot by contacting us and we’ll save you a seat.

Gryphon Theatre from April 23 to May 3, 2014 

Following a trial season at the Understudy at Bats, Absurdities takes the Gryphon Theatre on Ghuznee St by storm. This sharp, satircial, hilarious is made of a series of short sketches in the vein of such acts as Monty Python, A Bit of Fry and Laurie, and Saturday Night Live.

Join us for an evening where we discover how Napoleon would fare in today’s competitive job market, what the Prime Minister is planning to do with those series of blast furnaces down in Southland, what old people get up to when the youngsters aren’t looking, and what trees think about people on smartphones.

Absurdities is author Michael Pohl’s first full-length show. “The original idea came from my friend Cordelia.  She liked a bunch of the short stuff I’d written, and so I said, yeah, why not?”

About his sketches, Pohl says, “I like things that are short and snappy, that say their piece, and say it efficiently, cleverly, and quickly. Compression is a great challenge; telling a convincing story in the shortest possible timeframe.”

Director Shannon Friday, who has worked with Pohl on a number of shorter plays, says the show is a fun challenge. “It’s great to work with such diverse bits – there’s everything from political satire to crotch jokes.  And to be able to play around with so many styles is just really fun.

“I grew up watching Monty Python and Saturday Night Live, and now it’s just great to be able to play in that paddling pool.  You realize those guys are so sharp and so good at what they do.”

The two differ on their favourite bits.  Says Pohl, “The Queen and her advisor, definitely.  Really short but gets the job done with a minimum of fuss.”  Friday says, “I like the scene we’re just calling ‘the crotch scene.’   It’s great physical comedy that hints at some great stuff around gender and bodies – but mostly it is just pretty funny to see people scratching themselves like that onstage.”

For those wondering about the content, Friday says, “I’d say it’s rated PG-13 – pretty good if you’re 13.”

Absurdities: 23 April to 3 May
Gryphon Theatre, 22Ghuznee St
7.30PM April 23- 26 
6.30PM April 29, 30 
7.30PM May 1 – 3 
Tickets $20 adult, $18 concession, $15 for groups of ten or more.
2 tickets for $25 on April 24
Tickets available on iticket.co.nz.

Theatre , Sketch , Comedy ,

10min - Fri & Sat only

Fun for adolescents too

Review by Charlotte Simmonds 24th Apr 2014

If Sam Beckett and Jean Paul Sartre were born in New Zealand in the 90s, met each other at uni and then decided to write a skit show together, I suppose it could look something like this. Sometimes the skits have punchlines and at other times they’re just pure absurdist theatre. Highlights are:

  • Napoleon Bonaparte (played by Hugo Randall who pulls off a lot of comedic moments in this show) being interviewed for a middle management role at some sort of fruit company and returning later after the interval for a performance review
  • Rodney Bane’s charmingly cute tickets
  • A slightly lengthier piece featuring the old news-readers-keep-going-during-an-apocalypse gag but set in New Zealand.

The show is performed by a team of five. Rose Cann does several different accents. Tracey Gardiner is a good actor whose earnest and more deadpan performance I can easily imagine appearing in other shows. James Bayliss plays an endearing Mr Prime Minister who is being coerced into some dodgy trade agreements by American bullies. Michael Pohl, the show’s creator, turns up as a television interviewer, newsreader and advisor to a Queen.

The audio levels might need some slight adjusting, the house lights need to be off from the beginning for the discovery of an audience member gag to work in the first sketch and it looks like Sistema is the new Tupperware so perhaps a renaming of that scene is in order. Burning human bodies of course is not carbon neutral, but maybe that is the joke? 

Shannon Friday, the director, rates the show as “PG-13 – pretty good if you’re 13”. And it is school holidays so this might be a fun thing to take some adolescents to.


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Napoleon’s battle at Bats a doomed exercise

Review by John Smythe 15th Feb 2014

It must have seemed like a good idea at the time: present a 10-minute play in Bats’ Understudy Bar at 7.30 pm then another at 9pm, in the half-hour between the ends of the 6.30 and 8pm shows and the starts of the next.

In practice, however (based on the first one this Friday night), two problems arise. First, they start the show before punters from Horatio have time to get a drink then get into the Understudy. A five minute delay may be in order?

Second, and less easy to remedy, is the noise from the crowded Bats Bar, the two spaces being separated only by a velvet curtain (which remains open for seven of the 10 minutes this first time).

Fortunately the audience is well disposed towards the first playlet (if it has a name we have not been informed). Musician Emma Wollhum sets the mood with a deft piece of piano accordion playing, then a corporate Human Resources Manager (Cordelia Black) appears and thanks us for applying for the advertised positions.

The absurdist premise is that Napoleon Bonaparte (Hugo Randall) is an applicant for the Supervisor position. And being a domineering type, it’s appropriate that he speaks very loudly. Thank goodness.

The gag is in the juxtaposition between his historically monumental deeds and the modern HR matrix passed over them by his interviewer. Michael Pohl’s script is clearly well researched but the circumstances make its delivery expository and declamatory, so any emotional, psychological or vocal modulation that might have generated comedy is doomed. 

I was unable to get back for the 9pm show, and I’m told it had finished by the time people who had just seen I Could Live Here could get to it. I am also told the second playlet involved Napoleon undergoing a performance appraisal.

Who knows what the offerings this Saturday or next Friday and Saturday will be (Pohl has penned eight 10-minute absurdist plays in all). Maybe they all use Napoleon to comment on today’s employment environment. But as a Free/Koha/pay what you think they’re worth gig, they are definitely worth checking out.


Dean Hewison February 16th, 2014

The main absurdity for me was pitching a show for a particular audience and then not allowing that audience to see it. Hope they fix that.

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