Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

25/10/2017 - 27/10/2017

Hamilton Fringe 2017

Production Details

Boot is a play that examines masculinity, and how it can contribute to brotherhood and rape culture.

Devised by the cast and written by Director Stephen Henderson (Crockpot, Mayhem live, Blue steak) The play packs a punch.

The Meteor Theatre, Hamilton
Wednesday 25th – Friday 27th October 2017
$10 full – $5 concession
For tickets and bookings visit:  

Theatre ,

1 hr

Unsettling but honest-feeling

Review by Ross MacLeod 26th Oct 2017

Small Dynamite is a theatre company that in recent years has confronted some tough and controversial topics with a mixed level of success. On occasion it has felt like the desire to be edgy and socially challenging was a higher priority that creating an accessible work.  But in Boot that alchemy has finally hit the right mix. Not only is Boot unflinching in its exploration of themes but it’s also tightly structured, subtly layered and well cast and performed.  

I don’t want to give too much of the plot away as how it all unfolds is one of its strengths. It centres on the events of a high-school rugby team weekend camp and the investigation after. It’s depressing that there is so much material in recent years for the company to draw from, with high profile professional players getting light sentences, the Chiefs treatment of a stripper and even the Gisborne case of a teenage boy sexually assaulted by his friends. (This felt more recent. In fact it was 15 years ago in 2002.) While these events relate to the topic, Boot manages not to be a ‘ripped from the headlines’ copy of them but fleshes out its own world and characters. 

This is a challenging play, harsh and crass but not for mere effect. The language of homophobia, sexism, racism and toxic masculinity is front and centre throughout.  The aggression and violence – the perverted codes-of-honour and closing of ranks – makes for an unsettling but honest-feeling piece. Boot is never nice but it’s never gratuitous either. 

While the characters do fill certain archetypical roles they are fleshed out and well played enough to be believable human beings, albeit unlikable ones. As an attendee of an all-male school I certainly recognise a few of the personalities on display.  The inclusion of two smaller female roles is well placed too, girls being a both integral and yet tangential part of young male identity.

The three senior boys are each their own kind of sociopath: Adam (Tycho Smith) the affluent faux-intellectual; Jarrod (Liam Hinton) the hair trigger brute; Jaime (Andrew Lyall) the chameleon predator. They’re all horrible people but they all get to show more than one side to themselves and it’s a stronger play for it.

Small Dynamite regulars are perfectly cast here. Liam Hinton tends to perform at ‘always maximum’ intensity which can sometimes undercut his characters but it works perfectly for Jarrod; simple but driven. And Andrew Lyall’s natural affability is given a much darker and sharper edge than he often gets to work with.  Also of note are Patrick Ward as the likable Carlisle who braves some intensely emotional scenes and James Smith whose Vincent is at once confidently collected and acutely susceptible to the pressure of his world. 

Events unfold smoothly, the plot device of different boys giving depositions keeping the story fresh and the narrative keenly honed, not knowing what’s coming next. If it stumbles at all it’s in the final act which, while still powerful, does seem to drag just a little in pacing.

Boot is an excellent piece of theatre; the work and dedication from the writer director and cast show strongly on stage throughout. It’s topical and pertinent material but it always lets the story and characters come first. Small Dynamite has hit the mark with this show and I can’t help but feel that, with some polishing, there’s a work here that could be an important piece of New Zealand theatre in future years. 


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