Celebrity Trevor Island

Te Auaha - Tapere Nui, 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington

21/02/2024 - 24/02/2024

NZ Fringe Festival 2024

Production Details

Showrunner: Jeremy Hunt
Producer: Austin Harrison
Director: Mia Oudes

Ruff as Gutz Spectacles

Trev and his Farmhand having been working together for years, but Trev is sick of them! They never do things the way that Trev wants them done, and their blooming positive attitude makes Trev nauseous.

So, Trev is holding open try-outs to replace them, and a cracking team of improvisors are here to try their hand at farm handing – but things aren’t quite as they seem on Trev’s farm. Sheep are whip-smart and deadly, cows need thorough seduction before you can milk them, and someone needs to do something about the possums.

Watch the would-be farmhands do their best to impress Trev in this Taskmaster meets Treasure Island meets America’s Next Top Model meets A&P Show extravaganza!

Venue: Te Auaha, Tapere Nui
Dates/times: 21-24 February 2024, 9pm
Prices: $18-22
Links: https://fringe.co.nz/show/celebrity-trevor-island

Trevor: Jeremy Hunt
Farmhand: Anna Barker
Contestants: Fringe artists (TBC)

Designer: Alexander Dickson
Graphic Design: Tom Noble
Photography: Michiel van Echten

Comedy , Theatre ,

60 mins

Good idea – could be realised better

Review by John Smythe 22nd Feb 2024

Yeah, so Trevor is one of those bastard farmers who treats his dog like shit then blames it for being useless. So he advertises for a replacement, four contenders turn up and he puts them through their paces – for the edification of the masses who enjoy watching innocent creatures being degraded and humiliated. All good fun, right? What could possibly go wrong?

It’s a great set-up for a Fringe show, not least when Celebrity Trevor Island’s guest contenders are performers who also get to pitch their own Fringe shows at the end (see below).

Ben Kelly on keys adds to the preshow ambience in Te Auaha’s Tapere Nui which is adorned with four strings of ‘big top’ lights, a large blue plastic rectangle, an orange armchair, a dog kennel … It’s Ben who introduces the MC, Trevor (Jeremy Hunt – also credited as the Showrunner for Ruff as Gutz Spectacles), who romps on in gumboots, shorts, singlet and beanie.

Of course we all oblige whole-heartedly when Trev get us to provide animal noises in three job lots. But it turns out to have no purpose. We are never called on to do it again. The few mooing, bleating or cackling offers from the audience in response to what ensues thereafter are totally ignored. But of course we’re animals and Trev’s a bastard so what can we expect – is that the idea?

Anyway, so Trev gets us to boo the arrival of his farm-hand Dog (Anna Barker) claiming it likes the attention, then introduces the contenders for the farm hand job: Dylan Hutton, Eliza Sanders, Salome Bhanu and Em Barrett on opening night. Now a dysfunctional hand-held mic has been abandoned, which Trev doesn’t need anyway, but it might have been useful for amplifying the softer voices of some of the contenders when they answer his questions about what they like and why they want the job.

On with the tests, then – physical, mental and artistic – carried out in the chicken coop, a.k.a. on the blue plastic rectangle. Fortunately the contenders are wearing clothes that are conducive to getting messed up. The first test involves donning chicken feet (i.e. rubber chickens) and trying to dodge the blindfolded, noodle-wielding Dog. The rules were not clearly explained but I guess chaos was the end game anyway.

Subsequent tests involve making a pizza pie with a severe limitation involving just one body part; an artificial insemination simulation-cum-competition; competing on ‘Trevia’ questions; competing to get the most ‘eggs’ (water ballons) from a central pile into your corner. During the ‘Trevia’ test, attempts to enhance the drama with live music only succeeds in obliterating key words and diminishing the entertainment value. Hopefully that mic will get sorted for the next two shows.

Using a contender (Dylan) as its mouthpiece, the Dog lets it be known it thought it was getting a help-mate, not being replaced. Trev derides the idea, reinforcing his bastard persona, and a revolution ensues – which is where we, as fellow farm animals, could have been included.

Even though ‘Ruff as Gutz’ is their brand, a more thorough consolidation of the central premise would improve the show a lot. First, as with Celebrity Treasure Island, the MC needs to be authoritative and clear, and in this case his bastard persona needs to be convincing and consistent. He needs to be the panto-villain, if you will. In counterpoint, the Dog needs to engage our empathy and there need to be opportunities to for us to reinforce that throughout – culminating in Trevor getting his comeuppance.

In short, the whole experience could be much more entertaining and satisfying for players and audience alike.

Yeah well, that’s what I reckon anyway.   

Guest contenders:
Dylan Hutton (he/him) – other fringe show: Sandwich Artist (6 – 9 March)
Em Barrett (she/her) – other fringe show: Pure Grime (26 – 28 Feb)
Salome Bhanu (she/her) – other fringe show: Winging It (16 – 17 Feb)
Eliza Sanders (she/her) – other fringe show: Manage Your Expectations (27 Feb – 2 Mar)


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