FatG: Fringe at the Gryphon, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington

14/03/2020 - 14/03/2020

NZ Fringe Festival 2020

Production Details

There’s a lot on the line when every patient’s the goodest girl, boy, or lizard. Enter NZ’s leading animal hospital (owned and operated by Drs. Evan and Shelly Bay) for an all-day residency of the heart, where medical professionals save lives every hour… but can they save their own? 

A new improvised soap opera from the creators of Deep Space Naenae, Lyall Baywatch, and Mirror Miramar. Come for one episode, stay all of them, or dip in and out – see three episodes and the rest are on us!

“Countless moments of improvisational gold” – Theatreview
“Impressively epic improv” – Theatreview

Nominated: Outstanding Ensemble, Best Improv Fringe 2015

Want to stay all day? Purchase 3 individual tickets to 3 different hours, see the rest of the day for free! (ex. buy 1 x ticket for 1pm, 2pm, and 3pm and you will be admitted to all other episodes for the rest of the day)

FatG at Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Te Aro
Saturday 14 March 2020
Every hour on the hour from 1:00p, to 10:00pm
Price per hour:  General Admission $10.00 Fringe Addict $7.00
Book Now

Wheelchair access available

Theatre , Improv ,

50 mins per episode

Plenty of soap bubbles foaming in this steaming creative cauldron

Review by John Smythe 14th Mar 2020

NZ’s leading animal hospital is owned and operated by Dr Evan Bay and Dr Shelly Bay, hence Bay’s Anatomy the ‘soap opera’. Mysteriously, but apparently not missed by the staff, Dr Shelly is absent from the series premiere – because Jennifer O’Sullivan, who is down to play her, is tucked into prompt corner at a mic, directing Ep One from behind the musician. Liam Kelly, doubling as Gill Grilligan of Gill’s Grill & Bar, the staff’s watering hole, keeps the dramatic pulse pumping on his keyboard.

‘Opening credit’ snippets capture moments that hint at each character’s interests or concerns. The idea of having everyone check in at reception, manned by Sam Irwin’s eager-to-please Damian Raven, is subverted by most of the staff being too busy to observe such details – except for Christine Brooks’ socially awkward ambulance officer, Pam Hamm, who slips Damian a lunch invitation.

Clare Kerrison’s money-focused Chief Operations Manager, Greta Point, is forever on her phone to the frustration of Lyndon Hood’s desperate-to-succeed equipment salesman, Kea Falcon. But eventually he gets her attention at the expense of Damian – who she sends off on a wild spider chase. His getting lost in the hospital’s nether regions – behind a gauze backdrop, abetted by Darryn Woods on lights – causing deep-felt consternation as lunchtime approaches …

Meanwhile Steven Youngblood’s Padre “call me Keith” Grant does his best to answer the question Jonny Paul’s Charlie Boothroyd has about whether pets have a God. His gentle counsel will eventually reveal that Charlie has absent father issues and, deprived of contact with the sea by growing up in Cromwell, it was his first sight of the ocean on a school trip to Oamaru that set him on course as a marine biologist along with an abiding passion for metaphysics.  

Matt Powell’s Dr Evan Bay proves to care very deeply for his staff, not least Dianne Pullman’s Dr Samoyed Shepherd, whose insightful diagnosis of what ails a once-lively cat called Fluffy Bottom sees her promoted. She also turns out to be the saviour of Damian – but not before lunchtime …

Wiremu Tuhiwai’s Nurse Jake Remoré offers friendly support and advice to Pam regarding her romantic lunchtime plans – and it emerges (through an excellent exchange where Brooks and Tuhiwai leave the offer wide open until O’Sullivan orders specifics) that Jake has done something possibly dodgy with Mr Trickle in the basement. But Dr Evan is impressed by his initiative and wants to shadow Jake for a day …

Damian’s failure to turn up for lunch with Pam brings up serious self-esteem issues her that cause her to deny further contact, even though we know it was not his fault.

Meanwhile Kea is just a signature away from closing the deal with Greta for a new ECG machine when Dr Evan puts a freeze on cash-flow to finance his own pet project (“Pets are people too,” he believes) – yet Greta assures Dr Evan the contract is signed so those funds are safe, leaving us to wonder what she is up to. Embezzlement, perhaps?

The basic ‘yes and’ rule of improv seems to be spectacularly broken when Irwin’s Damian answers the metaphysical offers of Paul’s Charlie with a veritable volley of “No, no, no!’ – insisting his hurt and distress are physically real, which reduces O’Sullivan to hysterics. In fact the actors are agreeing by disagreeing, although Charlie does end up lost for words.

Kea feels the need to seek counsel with Keith because the ECG machine deal is suspended and his job is on the line. Greta is cancelling things on the phone – then delegates to Damian, because she won’t be in tomorrow … But why? And so Ep One ends.

Of course by the time this review goes live Ep 4 will be well under way, but judging by this there are plenty of soap bubbles foaming in this steaming creative cauldron. The final ep is at 10pm.


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