BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

29/02/2016 - 03/03/2016

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

21/09/2016 - 24/09/2016

BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

26/08/2014 - 27/08/2014

The Famous Spiegeltent, Havelock North Domain, Havelock North

30/10/2015 - 30/10/2015

#RaucousCaucus 2014


NZ Fringe Festival 2016 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

Jo Randerson’s raucous and dangerous Punk Barbarian returns to the stage. A powerful and hilarious solo show, a wake-up call for those that have fallen asleep, a call to arms for those who have given up the fight. Includes gruesome battle renditions, piano recitals of Bach and readings of Robert Frost.

First created in 2001 while in Denmark, Jo’s Viking homeland, and performed in Australia, Norway and around New Zealand, it has been staged by many others and is a favourite audition monologue for young women. Jo is performing this work in 13 yr cycles. She will be 53 next time she performs it. Produced by Barbarian Productions.

“A weirdly fascinating look at love and redemption through the eyes of a Bach-playing punk… Illuminates the wilfulness and grace of acting on behalf of those despised and rejected by the world” (Dominion Post)

BATS (Out of Site), cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington
Sept 26th and 27th 9pm

Part of #RaucousCaucus2014 – see two shows in this festival of political performance for just $30.
Email to book your two show pass.

The Famous Spiegeltent, Havelock North Domain, Havelock North
Fri Oct 30th: 10pm
Concession:  $25.00
General Admission:  $29.00

Performed at festivals in Denmark, Norway, Brisbane and around New Zealand (most recently at the Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival 2015).

“Randerson breaks traditional theatrical conventions… a strong personality on stage who presents her way of life and in doing so challenges us to rethink how we live our own.” – Fiona McNamara, Theatreview

NZ Fringe 2016
BATS Theatre – The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Te Aro, Wellington
Feb 29, Mar 1-3
6:30pm (50 min)
TICKETS: $20/$15/$12

Auckland 2016

Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong plays
Basement Theatre, Auckland
Dates: 21st – 24th Sept 2016
Time: 7.30pm
Tickets: $15 – $20
Bookings at or phone iTicket (09) 361 1000

See both Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong & Vanilla Miraka from the 21st–24th September for $35.

Theatre , Solo , Political satire ,

55 mins

Off Beat

Review by Rachael Longshaw-Park 23rd Sep 2016

Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong is once again brought to life fifteen years after its debut by writer Jo Randerson. The show promises to be a raucous event pioneered by a tartan wearing, foul mouthed punk figure who navigates her ancestry and personal philosophy throughout the show. Taking inspiration from her Danish heritage, Randerson weaves into the fabric of her play a sense of discontent and rebellion. The character is a self-proclaimed freak show that attempts to challenge her audience by questioning the way in which we live our lives. 

The show defies theatrical conventions through its lack of obvious narrative and story arc. Randerson’s explicit opening statement, “I like you to think of this not so much as a piece of theatre”, immediately undercuts the traditional structure of the event, and she consistently destructs the fourth wall from start to finish. The theatre space acts as a metaphor for captivity and restriction, further cemented by the interactions of two actors preventing Randerson from leaving the space and curtailing her smoking habit. [More]


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Touches the bleeding Barbarian heart

Review by Candice Lewis 22nd Sep 2016

In this one woman show, Jo Randerson storms the stage in a parody of anger. It’s almost ‘Young Ones’ in nature; a mid-1980s middle class costume punk ready to kick over a letter box at a moment’s notice. Spitting, shouting and staring into the audience, she dares us to question this stance.

The effect is comic and compelling: what will she do next? She tells us stories, overblown and preposterous; expresses pride in the role of Barbarian, delight in the dirty underdog. We are laughing yet I feel guarded, waiting, wanting to know what this is really about. Then it happens – the posturing gives way to the Barbarian’s vulnerability.

In direct contrast to her swagger, she sits down at the keyboard and plays Bach. This wild Barbarian woman draws us close with unexpected beauty and softness, increasing moments of intimacy amidst the chaos. I am trying to analyse everything and then realise I don’t have to. I like this state of not quite knowing. I am enjoying having this line between theatre and ‘real life’ held up in Barbarian light.

The stories that start out intending to shock or repel become increasingly universal – the hatred and hardness as transparent as a child playing war in the back yard. I am touched. Not in the head, but in my bleeding, Barbarian heart. We just wish Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong had gone on longer! 


nik smythe September 24th, 2016

On a tangential note, for an eye-opening take on true Barbarian history I strongly recommend Terry Jones excellent documentary series Barbarians.  Each episode focussing on a different Barbarian tribe/nation, Jones' inquiries reveal that , in direct contrast to the enduring history set down their main antagonists those crazy Romans, the latter were invariably the less civilised, more savage and debauched peoples.  Comparisons to modern-day overbearingly proud, hypocritial nations seem inevitable.

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Gruff, brash, bloody-knuckled with a charm, sweet vulnerability and integrity

Review by Jonathan Kingston-Smith 29th Feb 2016

A door slams and she is forcibly ejected onto the stage. She prowls back and forth – drinking, gurning, spitting and flipping obscene gestures at the audience. On the audio The Sex Pistols gleefully mutilate ‘My Way’. She is mohawked and clad in a ragged kilt, animal skins and a T-shirt emblazoned with the word ‘Danmark’.

Her face is a punkish sneer beneath a smear of Adam Ant-esque glam rock make-up. This is the last of the bastards, heir to a fragmented tribe of Barbarians. Her words are clenched fists, her accent geographically untraceable. She is here to show us a different kind of life. Her world is a sideshow to demonstrate how we should not be.

But, of course, there’s much more to it than that.

For the next fifty minutes she takes us through her life – from the wild joy of running to the unexpected kinship among fellow barbarians; from humorously graphic anecdotal depictions of bloodletting to the loneliness of being the last of your kind. In amongst the carnage and aggressive behaviour we are treated to classical piano interludes, poetry readings and moments of striking poignancy.

Jo Randerson is a compelling and kinetic performer. On-stage she is imbued with a spiky, electric-shock energy. She toys with tightly-coiled physical tension and bursts of sudden, violent catharsis. Sometimes she paces the stage like a caged tiger; other times she prowls up into the audience, and occasionally breaks ‘barbaric’ character to gracefully imitate the mannerisms of the posh – one of whom she most definitely is not.

She cleverly plays with timing, intentionally letting some moments stretch to the point of awkwardness. Her vocal delivery is expressive and expertly judged; reaching out to the audience through the muddled tense shifts, unnecessary plurals and grammatical misfires that she so endearingly uses. Her character is gruff and brash and bloody-knuckled, but there’s a charm, sweet vulnerability and integrity to her.

In some ways the performance surprises me – I had expected it to be overtly political, perhaps even to the point of preaching. But Randerson does not lecture us on what to think or how to act, rather she simply tells us that we mustthink and act. There is no judging here: fairness and balance is the goal. It is also a more intimate piece than I was anticipating – Randerson takes universal themes and expresses them on a personal level, couching them in skewed comedy. She makes her points deftly and charmingly, veneered in humour and a heady whiff of the absurd. She is assisted by pleasingly subtle and nuanced lighting, effective and sparse staging and a nice running gag with the stage manager.

Ultimately, Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong is a rallying cry; a challenge thrown at the anaesthetised, apathetic masses to rise from their numb sleep, to be more than a passive witness to events, to remain honest to the way they are rather than succumb to the pressure of societal norms and expectations. To believe in something. To run… to love… to never stop fighting.  


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Funny, stirring and entertaining

Review by Jenny Wake 31st Oct 2015

She’s all noise and attitude, this rough, tough barbarian created and performed by Jo Randerson. Fortunately, by the time she’s pushed onto the stage, she’s half way through a bottle of booze and slow-moving enough to curb her more brutal instincts in favour of sharing her particular philosophy of living life to the full.

The barbarian’s attire – she’s clad in tartan and draped with animal furs, chest emblazoned with the Danish flag – and her thick, ‘pick and mix’ European accent suggest her ancestry is part Viking and pure mongrel. 

She’s proud to come from a long line of Bastardos. Most of them died violently, and she too is a fighter; a killer. 

She’s been told she could look pretty if she learnt how to do her hair and makeup properly, but she likes her own mad mix of punk and girlie styling and, anyway, ugliness is a family trait.

She’s been advised not to run; she should first learn to walk, to play it safe. Stuff that! The barbarian thrives on risk.

When she’s not running, she plonks out sweet classical music on a keyboard, stressing the notes of despair. She reads us Robert Frost’s poem ‘The Road Not Taken’ but skips the boring bits. Life is too short for the boring bits.

She never lets on what causes she fights for, or against whom she fights. She champions the underdog; the battle is more thrilling if you’re not sure you can win.

As she describes hand-to-hand combat in blood-and-guts detail, her hands express the visceral pleasure of disembowelment.

But despite her savage ways, she looks upon her audience with a kindly eye, so it seems we’re safe and on her side. Then again, perhaps not…

Randerson has this audience well and truly in her sights. Well-heeled and silver-tinged, it’s not a typical late-night crowd. I’m willing to bet Randerson’s barbarian would find few of us at her side in battle these days. Somewhere along the way, most of us drifted into the mainstream.

The barbarian has chosen to reject the normal and ordinary, to take action, to live with passion. Randerson’s unspoken question to her audience is: have you given up the fight or do you still have that glint in the eye, that spark of life?

With deft comic timing and well-handled moments of audience interaction, Randerson balances confrontation and humour to deliver a character who is at the same time alienating and appealing. Somehow, even when she reveals her antisocial worst, I find myself delighting in her joie de vivre.  

And there’s the rub. Is she too appealing? Why – even after the barbarian has described how she once leapt from the audience and murdered an actor on stage because she objected to his actions – does no one in the audience stand up and object to the violence she says she has inflicted? Are we all life’s observers, too tame to act?

Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong is simply staged and easy to tour. It is funny, stirring and entertaining theatre, and deserves many more outings. I just wish I could be in the audience when someone does at last stand up and object.  


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A gift to New Zealand theatre

Review by Fiona McNamara 27th Aug 2014

Banging Cymbal, Clanging Gong is the founding theatrical cornerstone of Barbarian Productions and an iconic New Zealand work.  

Writer and performer Jo Randerson draws on her Viking family roots (Randers, Denmark) to create this raging barbarian, proudly wearing a t-shirt of the Danish flag draped in animal pelts.

The stage is bare, except for a chair, a piano and sign reading: “Warning: This show contains swearing, drinking, generally aggressive behaviour” which it does.  

After busting on stage, the Barbarian tells us she doesn’t want us to think of this as a piece of theatre, but a demonstration of another way of life: a way of life in which we run and fight and never hold back. This Barbarian has a bloody passion for justice and she always looks after the little ones because they need her help but also because it’s more fun if you don’t know if your side’s going to win.

The Barbarian’s energy reminds us how easy it is to become too comfortable in our own privilege and to give up the fight. What specific injustices she is fighting is up to each audience member to decide for themselves.

The institution of the theatre becomes a metaphor for the world in which this Barbarian is forced to live. She is trapped by the establishment in the same way that Randerson is trapped by the confines of the blackbox end stage. She is literally trapped on stage – with a woman in a long black coat holding a whip blocking the backstage exit and the ticket taker preventing her from leaving through the audience door – and we can see the raging fighting barbarian who loves to run ready to explode.

Randerson breaks traditional theatrical conventions – there is no real narrative but a simply a strong personality on stage who presents her way of life and in doing so challenges us to rethink how we live our own. Stylistically we can draw similarities with Barbarian Production’s Grim Reaper character and I could see this character having a similar future in, or engaging members of the public in, the real world.  

In a society in which there are still so few dense roles for women, Randerson’s gutsy meaty character is a real gift to New Zealand theatre.

It’s great to see this performed as part of #raucouscaucus – a festival of political theatre. It is a timeless political piece that calls the apathetic to action and re-energises those already fighting the fight. 


Ruby Schmidt August 28th, 2014

Absolutely bloody right. An awesome show. The unexpectedly moving and poignant ending really got me. 

Jo was magnificent in tartan and fur. 

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