Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

15/05/2012 - 19/05/2012

BATS Theatre, Wellington

01/05/2012 - 05/05/2012

NZ International Comedy Festival 2012

Production Details


From the guys who brought you Comedy Festival hits Space Race and The Irrefutable Truth About Pet Food, comes BOMBS AWAYan explosive, brand new comedy-musical where no New Zealand icon is safe (from bombs).

It’s 2012 in the island nation of New Zealand, and when a bomb-terrorist starts targeting the some of the country’s most beloved landmarks, the Prime Minister calls upon the only guys qualified for the job. A.D, Matt and Ben are Bombs Away™, 3 bomb disposal “experts” who couldn’t defuse a bomb if their lives depended on it (often the case when it comes to bombs).

Armed with courage, teamwork, and song, our unlikely heroes venture on a nationwide journey that takes them everywhere from Kelly Tarlton’s to the Waitomo Caves. From Ohakune’s giant carrot to the world famous “Hobbit Film Set” itself. 

With the country facing a threat to it’s identity and tourist viability unlike any it has ever known, it’s up to the three least qualified techs in all of the Commonwealth to put aside their differences and sort it out. With a hilarious script from Nic Sampson, Ryan Richards and Barnaby Fredric, complemented by an exciting full length musical score from Joseph Moore, BOMBS AWAY is an absurd and uplifting show that promises to me one of the most unique of the 2012 New Zealand Comedy Festival.

BOMBS AWAY is based on the award winning short musical, A Stitch in Time, which competed in and took out the lion’s share of the awards at the Short + Sweet Theatre festivals in Auckland and Melbourne.  No strangers to the stage or screen, Nic, Ryan, Barnaby and Joseph have written, devised and performed 13 original comedy works for Auckland and Wellington theatres – as well as having performed in and written for numerous NZ Television productions. With impossibly catchy songs, an innovative set and elaborate stage-explosions – BOMBS AWAY is a likely sell-out, and an absolute must see.

“A cleverly crass and hilarious musical…” – The New Zealand Herald

“Unashamed fun; pure talent in performance, production and writing… I want to see more.” – Theatreview.

As part of the NZ International Comedy Festival 2012

Dates: Tues  1 May – Sat 5 May, 6.30pm
Venue: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce CBD
Tickets:  Adults $20, Conc. $15, Groups 6+ $15
Bookings: 04 802 4175;
Duration:  50 mins 

Dates: Tue 15 – Sat 19 May, 7.15pm
Venue: Loft at Q, 305 Queen St
Tickets:  Adults $25, Conc. $20, Group 6+ $20
Bookings:  09 309 9771;
Duration: 1 hour 

For a full line up of performances, booking details &more information, visit  

Starring Nic Sampson, Ryan Richards, Calum Gittins and Joseph Moore 

Music by Joseph Moore
Set Design by Jessika Verryt 
Lighting Design by Rachel Marlow 
Choreography by Elizabeth McMenamin 


Who you [not] gonna call?

Review by Sharu Delilkan 16th May 2012

There is no secret that ‘there will be bombs’ in the brand new comedy-musical Bombs Away!. The hilarious script written by Nic Sampson, Ryan Richards and Barnaby Fredric, complemented by a full-length musical score from Joseph Moore, can only be described as absurd, uplifting, full of life and the height of silliness.

The opening track includes a call to Muslim prayer followed by a song with Muslims and burkahs, but the show is not about Muslims and bombing. Although not Muslim myself but having grown up in Malaysia, I was pleasantly surprised that the writers decided not to resort to Muslim-bashing to make and tell their fantastical story. [More


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Goodies-grade silly

Review by Nik Smythe 16th May 2012

I’m always drawn to comedy festival shows that strive to offer something more than simple standup.  Sure, I love a good raconteur like anyone, but in the middle of a three-week binge on them it’s a refreshing point of difference to see something more theatrical.

2010s The Irrefutable Truth About Pet Food shows us that co-writer Barnaby Fredric is no stranger to taking an arbitrary scenario, seemingly as random as a Theatresports topic pulled from a hat, and concocting a musical script complete with all the humor, love, anger and pathos (bathos at least) expected of the genre.  This time he’s formed a gang with Nic Sampson, Ryan Richards and Joseph Moore to write a gut-splatteringly ambitious action-packed operetta with overtones of patriotic nihilism.  The resulting script is clever, skillfully structured, dynamic, satirical and Goodies-grade silly. 

Sampson plays chiseled ginger he-man bomb-disposal school dropout ‘AD’, struggling with the classic hero’s dilemma of being forced to choose between his dedication to national security and his beloved sweetheart ‘Wife’, one of several bit-parts played by Moore in his ‘Bombs Away Tour Crew’ t-shirt. 

Moore is also responsible for the numerous musical arrangements, lyrical accompaniment, motifs, refrains and reprises that together form a wholly convincing musical parody.

Richards plays Matt Baker (the only one who gets a surname), who sees every choice in life as a 50/50 probability and on this supposition bases the most crucial decisions in his extreme-risk occupation. 

5th gang member Calum Gittins plays the brilliant nano-technician Ben, whose life work is a highly sophisticated nano-robot designed for bomb disposal and mp3 storage.  But will he have all the glitches ironed out in time as the intrepid squad charges all round the country chasing diabolical weapons of mass destruction set to destroy our beloved nation’s most lucrative tourist traps?

Not to spoil the ending, but no.  In fact as the ramifications of technology advancing to the point of self-awareness are realised, the play takes a turn for the Manga* in the climactic nail-biting Robot-battle finale. 

The script and Moore’s music are impressively solid, given the ludicrous plot, but energy, humour and raw talent are the major appeal here.  It’s also patently clear that these factors are exponentially enhanced by Rachel Marlow’s suitably dynamic lighting, Elizabeth McMenamin’s accomplished choreography and especially Jessika Verryt’s ingeniously crafted, no-budget cardboard cutout set.

I see the Wellington reviews had sound clarity issues, so am pleased to report the songs were well mixed and the lyrics comprehendible.  Whether or not Bombs Away continues developing – it is admittedly difficult to see a rich future for such an idiosyncratic premise – I eagerly await whatever these plucky young louts come up with next.  Especially if it’s a Goodies remake.

*[Ironic reference to Japanese hardcore sci-fi comics/anime – ed] 

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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Highly inventive and original

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 10th May 2012

The Comedy Festival is currently under way in Wellington and while the majority of the acts are stand-up comedians a few are theatrical pieces, mostly playing at BATS.  And the standard of at least two of the current shows are equal to any of the major Comedy Festival acts and well worth seeing.

First up is Bombs Away! A Musical, a highly inventive and original Kiwi musical written by Nic Sampson, Ryan Richards, Barnaby Frederic and Joseph Moore who also wrote the music.

Bombs Away are a bomb disposal unit of three guys (Nic Sampson, Calum Gittins, Ryan Richards) who didn’t get to graduate from the Royal NZ Bomb Squad Academy, but who, after 15 years of living in rural and domestic bliss, are brought out of retirement to counter terrorist activity threatening NZ’s tourist industry.

Their ineptitude and inability to defuse bombs sees much of NZ decimated.  That is until they find the real terrorist in Auckland’s Sky Tower and history begins to repeat itself. 

Performed with verve and loads of energy, this is a witty and innovative production with lots of well-choreographed dance routines and catchy tunes. However the backing accompaniment was far too loud often drowning out many of the clever lyrics even with microphones. 

Once the sound is turned down and they lose the face mics and clean up the ending which is rather ragged, this will be a great show to bring back for a repeat season. 


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Excellent creative talents yet to reach their potential

Review by John Smythe 02nd May 2012

Have we had a TV reality show about a bomb squad yet? If this trio of squaddies had been followed, their exploits would have either been quietly shelved or become the subject of multiple official enquiries.

Just as we like our homegrown musical ‘heroes’ to be comically inept, so we enjoy wittily expository dialogue and lyrics, generic musical styles and piss-take choreography. All are present in Bombs Away! A Musical, which premiered to an enthusiastic response at Bats last night.

The script by Nic Sampson, Ryan Richards, Barnaby Fredric and Joseph Moore (who also composed the music) is cleverly constructed with well delineated characters and twists in the right places.  

Sampson plays AD, who appears to be the squad’s leader but becomes too preoccupied, at the crucial moments when intense concentration is required, by his girlfriend-then-wife (one of many bit-parts played by Moore), not to mention the time-critical imperatives of suburban domestic life.

Happy-go-lucky Matt (Richards) is a coin-flipping chancer who believes we live in a 50/50 world and is happier with those odds than his colleagues are.

Ben (Calum Gittins) is the techno-boffin whose robots would be the ingenious solution to their problems if only he could get them to work.

Their major test at the Bomb Academy results in their dispersing to pursue other interests. It’s 15 years later, at a Bomb Retrospective Exhibition at Te Papa, that they are reunited … and discover their dubious skills are needed.

Bombs are being planted in New Zealand’s iconic tourist spots, threatening to destroy a crucial part of our economy. The squad reforms, voluntarily, and their attempts to defuse various bombs are less than heroic. Hell, they’re only human, eh.

The second major turning point reveals who is behind the skulduggery and why, in a way that suddenly brings historical depth to the subject matter, leading to the futuristic and climactic scene that plays out at the Sky Tower, from which – once evil is vanquished – one can see the whole country.

Set designer Jessika Verryt provides excellent cardboard cut-outs of Kiwi tourism icons which Rachel Marlow’s otherwise excellent lighting design could highlight more (were it not for the constraints of sharing the venue with multiple shows).  

The show comes most alive when Elizabeth McMenamin’s choreography kicks in, splendidly delivered by a highly disciplined cast.

The singing is often strong – quite beautiful at times – and occasionally, on opening night, there were out-of-tune lapses. (We have to assume the radio mics were added at the last minute, or not given adequate technical rehearsal, given the number of times they were left on for unnecessarily shouted dialogue yet left off for the first few bars of a song.)

Strangely the most muted sound is the explosions themselves. The canned music is much too loud, too often obliterating key words in the obviously clever lyrics which the audience strains to hear, thus constraining their inclination to laugh. I don’t know what the acoustics of the Q Loft are like (it plays there the week after next) but at Bats a live keyboard player and no voice amplification would be a much better option.

Given all the Kiwi iconography, and the decision a character has to make in the final throes as to his true identity, if ever a musical’s songs cried out for strong Kiwi voices it’s this one (cf: early Flight of the Conchords or The Lonesome Buckwhips if not full-on Fred Dagg). But no, despite their wit and originality, the cast drift automatically – and mindlessly? – into generic American pronunciation as soon as the music kicks in (sigh).

There is no doubt Bombs Away! is the product of excellent creative talents willing to develop such ambitious works on a shoestring budget. What the production needs, to achieve its potential, is three things: a director, a musical director and a decent sound mix that supports the lyrics and the voices.

Even so, this the sort of show that needs a week of previews, preferably at an ‘out-of-town tryout’ venue.  Maybe that is the role of the Bats season this time round, and hopefully some rigorous ‘outside eyes’ are on hand to allow the Auckland season to be at triumphant as it deserves to be.    


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