BASED ON AUCKLAND - the ensemble project #1

Silo Theatre, Auckland

13/03/2007 - 07/04/2007

Auckland Festival 2007

Production Details

Directed by Oliver Driver

Sound design:Tama Waipara
Lighting design: Jeremy Fern
Set design: John Verryt


Auckland. A city of 1.3 million people that boasts 3 harbours, 2 mountain ranges, 48 volcanic cones and more than 50 islands. A metropolis that accepts difference within the individual, a richness of experience, and the interface of differing cultures and communities. A blend of landscape, lifestyle and the rhythm of existence.

Look further. Sometimes people have other truths.

Auckland’s people are affected by poverty, violence, addiction, isolation and exclusion. Economic, political and social forces outside the control of the individual impact on our circumstances.

BASED ON AUCKLAND – a matrix of urban stories which embrace the city in which we live. We celebrate the frailty of the human confusion.

A hand made project performed in repertory with



Michelle Blundell
Barnie Duncan
Semu Filipo
Sophie Henderson
Jonathan Hodge
Morgana O'Reilly
Glen Pickering
Bonnie Soper
Esther Stephens
Sarah Thomson
Curtis Vowell 

Theatre ,

2 hrs 30 mins, incl. interval

Topical, authentic, close to home

Review by Kathryn van Beek 16th Mar 2007

After seeing Based On Auckland, I really want to see the other half of The Ensemble Project, Tis Pity She’s A Whore. I’d like to have these twelve actors captivate me for another night. Based On Auckland is an incredible opportunity for these actors to showcase their skills, and having sampled their wares, I’d like to place another order.

Much has been made of the potential of The Ensemble Project to unearth and illuminate fine new acting talent, and it has succeeded in its aim. Though all the actors have moments of brilliance and grace, my personal favourites are Sophie Henderson (straight girl next door/lesbian next door), Glen-Paul Waru (gormless dad and not-so-everyday bloke) and Morgana O’Reilly (tormented girlfriend and bakery worker). The cast of twelve all perform to a very high standard. Barnie Duncan’s portrayal of a devastated young father could melt a heart of stone.

Based On Auckland is a well-structured work for a devised piece, and though it lacks the dramatic intensity of some plays, it is a tear-jerker and a laugh-raiser. Having cast members slip in and out of the action of the play to narrate pieces of the play is a nice touch, as are the projected images which set the scene of a very familiar Auckland. Topical subjects such as rape and police brutality also give the action an air of authenticity and a feeling that the drama is all playing out close to home.

Themes of family, trust and unconditional love are presented in a sometimes cheesey, but always honest way. Birth, death, marriage, love, betrayal and despair intertwine and entertain like the plot of a high-class soap opera (think Desperate Housewives, not Days Of Our Lives).

In a set without wings the action is presented seamlessly, the large cast often using sound and movement to create mood. Actors play multiple characters, which is particularly useful for Esther Stephens who was unfortunate to be cast as a superfluous child (complete with superfluous fantasy sequences), but shines as an older woman trying to explore her identity.

Tama Waipara’s sound design works well with Jeremy Fern’s lighting to create atmosphere in John Verryt’s effective set, where two benches sit like bus shelters waiting for life to unfold around them. And unfold it does, as these all-too-familiar characters stumble through their days in search of meaning.

There is something in this well-presented play for every Aucklander.


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