BRUCE (Australia)

Turner Centre, 43 Cobham Road, Kerikeri

03/04/2019 - 03/04/2019

Hawea Flat Hall, Hawea

05/04/2019 - 07/04/2019

Southern Lakes Festival of Colour

UPSURGE Bay of Islands Festival 2019

Production Details

From the creator of the award-winning inter­national hits The Adventures of Alvin Sputnik: Deep Sea Explorer and It’s Dark Outside comes a new low-fi puppetry spectacular. Get ready for an epic puppet adventure that bends time and melts your heart.

Keeping you at the edge of your seat, BRUCE will sweep you away on an epic adventure of love and revenge. He may be just a yellow block of foam with a pair of disembodied hands, but BRUCE is out to prove he’s got a heart of pure gold. BRUCE is a two-man, one-puppet show that fuses mime and puppetry in a non-stop rollercoaster of action, adventure and low-fi nostalgia.

BRUCE is a high-octane, low-fi adventure with genuine edge-of-the-seat thrills… The Guardian, UK

The amount of humanity these two Australian puppeteers manage to imbue into their squeezey protagonist is remarkable and delectable… – ★★★★ – The Times, UK

I’ve never been so emotionally attached to a sponge…. – ★★★★★ – Edinblogger

The Turner Centre, Kerikeri
Wednesday 3 April 2019
7.00 pm
EARLY $34 – FULL $38
plus service fee
Suitable for 14+

Hawea Flat Hall
Friday 5 – Sunday 7 April 2019
6 pm

Theatre , Puppetry ,

55 mins

Cool, funny, outrageous and smart

Review by Pip Harker 06th Apr 2019

Onstage a black curtained set, a few lights and 2 actors dressed in black grooving/stretching to music – this greets us as we arrive.  Cool and confident, eyeballing the audience. The hooded long yellow jackets add to their lovely dweeby ‘act’, reminiscent of the boxing pre-fight theatre but less shiny. 

The black masks come on, the humans disappear and we realise why they’ve had to warm up.  This is very physical theatre! And we’re off into the show to meet lovable loser, the self-deprecating Bruce, cop/ astronaut/ novelist, head of sponge, eyes of pingpong balls.  White gloved hands complete him.  Who knew that a few simple household items could be so adorable?!

One actor drives the head and doing the voices, the other does the highly expressive hands and sound effects.  We’re soon into a flashback to learn the stressful story of Bruce and his trials therein.  Along the way we meet others too – the love interest Deidre with her bottomless appetite, one-eyed Pete – and learn why the one eye and the old man, all expressed with the same sponge, balls and white hands. 

The breakneck speed and time-jumping story keeps you on your toes and your intrigue peaking. Low-tech trumps high-tech once again. 

Bruce and friends are completely mesmerising. With a storyline that keeps you guessing and your brain engaged, some kickin’ music and some clever lighting tricks, you’ve got the makings of a smash hit.  This is one for all ages, though the young ones won’t have a clue what’s going on it won’t matter as it’s all so intriguing and fast-moving. 

Bruce is a goof, Deidre a dag and Pete funny.  The old man steals my heart though with his Cat Stevens theme song. Such a well-chosen heart-warming, nostalgic theme song (why can’t we all have one?),  He also delivers the best line of the show: “I’m fucking with the spacetime continuum!!” 

The baby sponges almost steal the show.

It’s easy to see why this production has run so long – about 5 years – and won so many awards. An intense, wondrous thoroughly engaging love story, time-travelling adventure with astounding mime and puppetry effects.  A crazy ride. 

Don’t miss Bruce!  Cool, funny, outrageous and smart.


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Epic yet intimate

Review by Lucy Hayman-Brown 04th Apr 2019

Moondogs Blues entertain the audience waiting for tonight’s performance of Bruce, as part of the Bay Of Islands Upsurge Festival. Behind closed doors, the Turner Centre stage has been transformed into a black box studio space.

At its heart, Bruce is a simple love story, following the romantic trials and tribulations of its eponymous hero. The way the tale is told, however – through an intricately-woven non-linear narrative, two disembodied hands and a handful of sponge – is surreal and grippingly entertaining.

As we take our seats, we are treated to the sight of the performers (Daniel Buckle and Nick Pages-Oliver) awkwardly ‘warming up’ in their skin-tight black costumes. This is not just for show. A warm-up would be essential to cope with the athleticism of the fast-paced one-hour performance. Their incredibly skilful use of voice and mime along with modest lighting and a nostalgic music soundtrack results in a performance which is lo-fi but almost cinematic in feel.

The action begins with our hero in space, and from there we hurtle with him through life, death and birth (at the climactic end, which is also the start). Our performers nimbly take on a cast of thousands. Well, not thousands, but Bruce (hero), Debbie (love-interest), One-eyed Joe (mortal enemy) and many others are magically brought to life in front of us.

One minute we are in a malfunctioning rocket, the next we are chugging back whiskey in a burning building. We are with the action all the way. Who knew a yellow cuboid of sponge and some googly eyes could be so engaging? The writers, I guess.

I recommend Bruce to anyone after some epic yet intimate, fringe-style comedy. It will make you smile, chuckle or laugh-out-loud, as most of the audience do tonight. No matter what, you cannot help but follow the highs and lows of Bruce’s adventures and feel the roller-coaster of emotions along the way.

A cute and quirky show.


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