BATS Theatre, Wellington

24/02/2008 - 28/02/2008

NZ Fringe Festival 2008

Production Details

A high paced two hander, devised and performed by two recent graduates of Toi Whakaari: New Zealand National Drama school Blinkers premieres at BATS Theatre on Feb 24th-28th as part of Fringe 08.

Blinkers is an unlikely love story between two neighbours; a rock and roll nobody and a tidy lover of horses. A delightful peek into the private world of neighbours and their everyday oddities. We ask why it’s so difficult to communicate over the smallest distances?

Featuring Natalie Medlock (Arcadia) and Dan Musgrove (Angels in America), Blinkers explores the beauty that is found in the mundane, the everyday oddities of life.  

"It’s the simplicity of horses and the driving rhythms of Patti Smith crammed into the tiniest apartments" says Medlock. "It’s ridiculous and perfect."

Musgrove  agrees, "It’s a peep hole  into our living room idiosyncrasies. A microscope for the sweet absurd irony of our everyday existence. We are strange creatures, let’s celebrate it and laugh!

Blinkers is an exciting new work by two up and coming New Zealand performers, and promises to be a funny, moving look at love.

Feb 24th-28th, 8:oo pm
BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace
$16/$12/$10 or 04 8024175   

1 hr, no interval

Irresistible humour and pathos

Review by Lynn Freeman 06th Mar 2008

Blinkers is the kind of Fringe show you know will come at you when you least expect it, just when spirits are flagging and festival related sleep deprivation have kicked in.  It’s what Eagle Vs Shark should have been, with two lonely crazy souls have a chance to get together and find happiness in a world not designed for them and their eccentricities. 

Rock fanatic Amy is at the end of the abyss when her downstairs neighbour, the equine hobbyist Monty, makes an unexpected connection.  Their courtship is not without hurdles – communication for a start, with both having lived in their own worlds so long they’ve forgotten how to act in company. 

It’s an irresistible devised work, the right length, humour and pathos in perfect harmony, gorgeous performances from the writers/devisors/actors, 2007 Toi Whakaari graduates Natalie Medlock and Dan Musgrove.  Directed with flair and feeling too by (unbelievably) first-timer, Sophie Roberts. 

Encore you three, the Wellington theatre scene needs you.


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Charming vignette

Review by Kate Blackhurst 29th Feb 2008

This is a play of many debuts. Both actors, Natalie Medlock and Dan Musgrove, graduated from Toi Whakaari in 2007 and this is their first professional performance. They also devised and wrote the piece. The director, Sophie Roberts, is having her first outing in this guise, although she has a string of acting credits to her name. They clearly already have a following, as evinced by the full house and waiting list on opening night. It is a following that is richly rewarded.

Monty (Dan Musgrove) is a part-time library assistant and full-time equine hobbyist. He has horse pictures on his walls, and an encyclopaedia and a china figurine on his table. He looks like Ned Flanders and talks like a racing commentator. Upstairs lives Amy (Natalie Medlock); part-time ticket collector and full-time rock fantasist. Her flat is furnished only with a mysteriously ringing telephone. She is starving, poor (she has no other clothes to wear and turns her knickers inside out to ‘dress for dinner’) and almost feral in her gestures and eating habits. I would perhaps question why she acts like a five-year-old with wide eyes and giggles, as this is at odds to her clear passion for ‘Rock and Roll Nigger’.

The two have limited communication although they are vaguely aware of each other’s existence. When Monty invites her down for a meal (of macaroni cheese – ‘It’s Italian’) he is startled by his own boldness. There follows a squirmingly uncomfortable dinner which demonstrates what not to do on a first date – don’t discuss topics such as suicide; make sexual innuendoes; eat like a pig; ridicule the other’s dreams.

Monty is aware that we have a human need for communication, but although this couple are literally living on top of each other, they are both socially inept and spring apart at the shock of contact when their knees accidentally brush beneath the table. We build walls around us to add the physical boundaries, hiding behind fantasy worlds and imaginary friends. Sometimes in order to communicate, these must be literally smashed apart.

Some of the ends remain loose – who is ringing Amy and why does she object so strongly to being called a princess? The metaphor that we might like what we see if we remove our blinkers and open ourselves to possibilities and friendship is a little heavy-handed, but this is generally a charming vignette of theatre and indicates a lot of promise from all involved.

Originally published in The Lumière Reader.


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Way-out wacky yet awfully familiar

Review by John Smythe 26th Feb 2008

It’s a natural human survival mechanism, to blinker our view of the world by hiding in the boxes we call home; by preoccupying ourselves with a special interest, in order to make our lives manageable and give ourselves the illusion of being in control. But taken to an extreme, it’s a cop-out, an avoidance of life’s realities that severely limits our human potential and guarantees long term loneliness.

Two such extreme cases are the premise of Blinkers, performed by its deviser/ writers with direction from Sophie Roberts. Amy (Natalie Medlock) escapes from a mundane part-time ticket-collecting job, where the boss calls her his Princess – something she hates to the point of fury – to guzzle bourbon, gnaw on a thin toasted sandwich, fantasise about fronting a punk rock band and lose herself in a bizarre series of dreams.

In the beige-walled (council?) flat below, part time assistant librarian Monty (Dan Musgrove) opts for the pursuit of equine knowledge, drawing pictures of horses and sharing his neat and ordered life with a china figurine horse called Chester: a simple and reliable relationship.

Separate sequences clearly establish who they are and what they do, paying little attention to back-stories that might explain why. They just are: contemporary clown-like entities, recognisably real but with specific characteristics separated, distilled then magnified to absurdist levels where interest, fascination and passion have crossed the line to obsession.

Metlock’s loose-dressed and heavy-booted Annie is as inarticulate, yet fascinatingly eloquent, as Musgrove’s Monty – clad in short-sleeved polyester shirt and tie, neat walk shorts, long socks and sensible shoes – is boringly verbose (in a highly entertaining way, if sometimes too consistently loud). Even though his ceiling is her floor, they remain a world apart, doomed to self-inflicted isolation.

Blinkers achieves its dramatic structure by exploring what it would take for them to get together in some way then, having done that – via a macaroni cheese dinner date at his place – building on their established behaviours until, in direct contravention of our collective desire to see romance blossom, the worst thing possible happens.

Except it’s not. What looks like an irretrievable breakdown becomes a breakthrough. This play evolves from intelligent insights into human experience and behaviour.

The night I saw it BATS was full of high school pupils who got it absolutely and loved it. While all of us tuned into the unlikely sexual tension the situation generated, but which the characters avoided or tried to ignore, these kids lapped up their excruciating embarrassment, and whooped especially at Monty’s tell-tale linguistic slips.

On the one hand Blinkers is way-out wacky, on the other it’s awfully familiar. Well worth seeing. _______________________________  
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Human nature and equine obsession

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 26th Feb 2008

In what must be one of the stand out Fringe Festival shows so far, two 2007 Toi Whakaari: NZ Drama School graduates perform a piece they have devised together under the excellent direction of another of their class mates Sophie Roberts.

Monty (Dan Musgrove) is a part time Librarian and an equine hobbyist; in fact he is obsessed with horses.  Above him lives Amy (Natalie Medlock) – a suicidal part time ticket collector living on the breadline and harbouring fantasies of being a rock goddess. 

They rarely see each other till the fastidious and pedantic Monty eventually invites the sloppy, slovenly Amy down for a meal.  Inevitably the only way these two can communicate is to project their persona onto each other causing a dramatic clash of opposites with each to reverting back to their fantasy. 

Original, creative and economically written, it is both funny and tension filled, more often through what is not said than said. Blinkers is an astute observation on the foibles of human nature, the play beautifully capturing the awkwardness of two non-entities trying to communicate. While the character of Monty is less well drawn, verging on the stereotypical nerdish Public Servant type in walk shorts and socks, both actors excel in the way they flesh out  the characters into real, believable people giving courageously entertaining performances.


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