Radio NZ Drama Online, Global

06/04/2020 - 31/05/2020

COVID-19 Lockdown Festival 2020

Production Details

The Cabin Fever Club, including a former publisher, a freelance writer, an actor, a novelist, a playwright, and a formerly famous poet, meet regularly for coffee at The Sour Dough Café in Devonport. 

Their talk is amusing and pertinent, and through it we witness the world changing swiftly around them, and empathise with their attempts to keep up. 

Book Ends by Roger Hall – Part 1
28 Sep 2014
The Cabin Fever Club, a group of men working from home, meet in an Auckland cafe in 2010.
 Listen duration28′ :58″  

Book Ends by Roger Hall – Part 2
5 Oct 2014
The Cabin Fever Club, a group of men working from home, meet again in a Devenport cafe in 2011.
 Listen duration26′ :25″  

Book Ends by Roger Hall – Part 3
12 Oct 2014
It’s 2012 and the Cabin Fever Club meet again for one of their regular sessions.
 Listen duration28′ :11″  

Book Ends by Roger Hall – Part 4
19 Oct 2014
It’s 2014 and the Cabin Fever Club meet for the final time in their Auckland North Shore cafe.
 Listen duration26′ :17″  

Book Ends interview: Roger Hall & Graham Beattie 
Author Interview 
28 Sep 2014
Playwright Roger Hall and publishing blogger Graham Beattie in conversation.
They chat about books, publishing and their men’s group The Cabin Fever Club, inspiration for Roger’s play Book Ends. 
 Listen duration16′ :17″  

PETER RICHARDS played by Bruce Phillips

MARTIN HARVEY played by Peter Vere Jones

PHIL ANDERSON played by Simon O’Connor

BERT REILLY played by Brian Sergent

PAUL ASHTON played by Ray Henwood

JEFF FRASER played by John Leigh

BRON played by Tanea Heke

Theatre , Audio (podcast) ,

4 1/2 hour eps

Interesting character studies and an easy listen

Review by Alexandra Bellad-Ellis 05th Apr 2020

Book Ends has been performed onstage and is now available to listen to as a radio play. Produced in four parts, it centres around The Cabin Fever Club, based loosely on an actual group Roger Hall was part of; a group of men. Specifically, the 6 men all work from home, and they are all part of the arts scene. They meet regularly at the Sour Dough Café in Davenport to talk over life and work, or lack of it.  

Each meeting of the group is set a year apart and chronicles the great changes that have happened, not just the highs and lows of each character’s life, but also the rapidly changing world that the arts scene saw during the years of the play (2010-2014), in particular the way technology has threatened to overtake the printed written word. Each of the six men brings to the table his experience in different aspect of the arts scene, and their differing opinions about their own and each other’s expertise.

Phil Anderson is the group’s playwright, and the story’s main narrator. He introduces us to each meeting, catching the audience up on what current events are happening in the country at the time. Phil is currently on his “fourth last play”, although there always seems to be another one just up the line. He can be quite grumpy with the others as he feels that playwrights are hard done by in New Zealand. As Phil, Simon O’Connor holds the centre of the play well, giving the audience a fixed point to come back to as the central character of the story.

Peter Richards is an actor who, when the play begins, has just been written out of Shortland Street, much to his surprise – despite the fact that so far on the show he has died three times.  Actor Bruce Phillips brings a gentle touch to the part of a man facing an unexpected end to his career. Martin Harvey is a struggling freelance writer, mostly of children’s stories. He is the resident literary expert, often throwing out esoteric questions to test the others’ knowledge. Peter Vere-Jones does a great job playing the often grumpily pedantic writer with vast general knowledge.

Bert Reilly, the group’s poet, attempts to get by on the meagre royalties he can get from his internationally favoured poem, ‘Throwing Sticks for Dogs’. The ladies’ man of the group, he is played with glee by Brian Sergent. His rags-to-riches tale sets him apart from the others in the group. Jeff Fraser is a novelist whose wife owns a book shop. John Leigh takes us through this character’s roller coaster story, showing how the birth of digital books changed the landscape of writing forever.

There is only one female voice in the play, that of Bron, the long-suffering café owner. She has been putting up with the group taking up space on her balcony, only ever buying one coffee each, and sometimes being rude to her staff. Played expertly by Tanea Heke, hers is the voice of the ‘real world’, and while she tries to tolerate the group, it is becoming increasingly difficult for her.

Written by Roger Hall, New Zealand’s most successful playwright, this play may be somewhat autobiographical. While not having a driving story line, and losing a little to being on the radio rather than on stage, this play is still an easy listen, and an interesting study in character.

Book Ends is part of Radio New Zealand’s Major Plays online collection.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo