Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

16/03/2010 - 17/03/2010


Production Details


The words fresh produce may conjure thoughts of DIY veggie gardens or organic wares at the weekend markets. In this case, however, Fresh Produce is the name of an upcoming season of original New Zealand performance works to be shown at The Basement, Tuesday 16th – Sunday 28th March.

This mini-festival takes off this month with five new works hitting the arts scene. On offer is a hand-picked collection of new dance and theatre pieces written, devised, and performed by some of the country’s finest emerging talent. Over the two week season The Basement will house Battered, Green Room, Wallflower & Shafted, The Idea of America, and Pro-Posing, a dance workchoreographed by Anna Bate.

Recent acting graduates from UNITEC’s School of Performing and Screen Arts and Wellington’s Toi Whakaari will star in the comedies Battered and Wallflower & Shafted. 

Battered, written by Jessica Grace Smith,who also stars in the piece,is set in a local fish ‘n’ chip shop in Dannevirke.

Wallflower & Shafted are two fast-paced comedies which promise to deliver eccentric characters and outlandish outcomes.

Green Room stars Ryan Richards, Nic Sampson and Byron Coll, who are brought together to play a drunken Power-Ranger, an earnest thief, and a wounded thespian when an American feature-film has come to town.

The only dance piece in the two-week season, Pro-Posing is an original work concerned with the show of change. A layered theatrical performance that directly references the industries of posing. Pro-Posing is choreographed by Anna Bate in collaboration with fellow performers Mariana Rinaldi and Kerryn McMurdo.

Written by UNITEC graduate Sam Shore, The Idea of America tells the story of Jude, a former flamboyant stage star who seems to think she is more famous than she actually is. In between burning the house down and flirting with bemused policemen, Jude escapes into a world of sequins, air-kisses and grand sweeping entrances, while her children struggle with their own offbeat dysfunction.

Don’t miss the opportunity to see these emerging New Zealand talents on stage before their names are up in lights.

For more information about the FRESH PRODUCE season & booking details visit 


Tuesday 16th – Sunday 28th March
The Basement , Lower Greys Ave, Auckland CBD

Tues 16 – Weds 17 March: Battered 7pm 
Thurs 18 – Sat 20 March: Pro-Posing7pm 
Tues 16 – Sat 20 March: Green Room 8pm
Tues 23 – Sat 27 March: Wallflower & Shafted 7pm
Tues 23 – Sat 27 March: The Idea of America 8:30pm & Sun 28 March 2:00pm.

Door sales are available at The Basement Box Office one hour prior to the start of each show.

Trace/Woman – Emma Draper
Rex/Phoebe – Sam Bunkall
Megan/Raúl – Jessica Grace Smith

Outside Eye – Katharine McGill
Lighting – Michael Craven
Producer – Jessica Grace Smith

Comic banter, tragic batter

Review by Nik Smythe 17th Mar 2010

The Basement’s auditorium houselights, lamps set near eye level, are a bit glarey as we seat ourselves. Small matter when they’re faded to black and the action begins. Conceived with the assistance of ‘Outside Eye’ Katherine McGill*, Battered is a petite, nicely formed drama initially disguised as a comedy. 

The black stage contains no set dressing whatsoever and there is but a single prop, a blue baby guitar wielded by Jessica Grace Smith in her two roles: Teenage Solo mum Megan, for whom the instrument is her youngest infant; and passionate romantic fantasy love interest Raúl, who strums a dulcet Flamenco tune while narrating the tragic, steamy tale of a trapped woman’s yearning for a love worth winning for.

The earnest señora of the tale is played by Emma Draper, also the main story lead Trace, the takeaway bar-worker wife of the right wing mayor of Dannevirke. Sam Bunkall takes the supercilious role of said slimy right-wing local government chief Rex Marlowe, and vividly contrasts it with Trace’s work colleague Phoebe, a classic self-obsessed smalltown teenage bimbo whose biggest life problem is that she’s the only one in senior year who’s still a virgin.

As we meet Trace, Phoebe and takeaway regular Megan, there’s plenty of amusing banter and comical caricature to draw us in. When Rex is introduced however, it’s clear everything isn’t quite all right. (SPOILERS AHEAD) Matters come to a head, but when confronted by Megan, Trace has excuses prepared to explain injuries to her person, classically defending her husband and denying any untoward treatment by him.

Overall it is theatrically a well-hewn, worthwhile piece of work. Where the play ends, I want it to be half-time, and to return to witness the retribution of Trace and the come-uppance of the odious Rex. In lieu of this, as Trace fails to dutifully set the prescribed example by speaking out and ending her victimization, we are left to consider how often this is in fact the case. 
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*[This show has developed as a 3-hander from Jessica Grace Smith’s solo work in Go Solo 09 (Group B), directed by Sophie Roberts.]
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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