Christ Almighty!

BATS Theatre, Wellington

02/12/2010 - 18/12/2010

Production Details

A promiscuous angel, a schizophrenic Wiseman, an evil King Herod, a desperate donkey and some virgin who claims she’s been knocked up by God. These are the Nativity Story characters… sans tea towels on their heads and school halls. This is no silent night – it’s Christ Almighty!, playing BATS Theatre from December 2nd.

This epic end-of-year event is packed full of in-your-face seasonal merriment with a deliciously ironic voice that is uniquely New Zealand; eight outrageous monologues from the characters of the “greatest story ever told” as you’ve never seen them before!

Penned by local comic talents Natalie Medlock and Dan Musgrove (Blinkers and Spurs, A Song for the Ugly Kids, The Giant Face),over 30 performers bring the eight monologues to life, and with no prior notice who will be involved each night, each show will leave audiences wondering which performer will hit the stage next.

You won’t know until you show!

“the Nativity story is transformed into a kind of X-rated version of The Life of Brian, and, as in the Monty Python classic, the frivolity is peppered with some ironic reflections on religious experience.” – NZ Herald

This fundraising celestial celebration for BATS Theatre is directed by the award winning Sophie Roberts and will see mother and daughter team Ginette McDonald and Kate McGill join forces along with a stellar team of familiar faces and sparkling newcomers. It also marks an important collaboration between BATS and Auckland’s Basement Theatre.

This is gonna be epic.

Christ Almighty! is intended for mature audiences only.

Christ Almighty! plays
Thursday 2 – 11 Dec @ 9.00pm, 13 – 18 Dec @ 7.00pm & 9.00pm
BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington
Tickets: $18 adults; $14 concessions; $13 groups 8+
Book: <>  or 04 802 4175

For more information, visit

FULL CAST: Erin Banks, Jed Brophy, Jack Buchanan, Byron Coll, Ben Crawford, Nick Dunbar, Emma Draper, Ally Garrett, Phil Grieve, Sophie Hambleton, Paul Harrop, KC Kelly, Jono Kenyon, Brianne Kerr, Emma Kinane, Salesi Leota, Jennifer Martin, Ginette McDonald, Kate McGill, Carmel McGlone, Stuart McKenzie, Ryan O'Kane, Kate Prior, Jessica Robinson, Fleur Saville, Bryony Skillington, Amy Tarleton, Asalemo Tofete, Leon Wadham, Paul Waggott, Aidan Weekes, Martyn Wood

Lighting Designer:  Jennifer Lal
Stage Manager: Ricky Beirao
Production Intern:  Pippa Neels
Publicist: Brianne Kerr
Producer: Martyn Wood

1hr 20mins (no interval)

Not for the faint of heart

Review by Lynn Freeman 10th Dec 2010

OMG! An irreverent retelling of the nativity as seen through the eyes an innkeeper who’s reminiscent of good old Chloe (as played by Sophie Hambleton), of a smoking, swearing angel (a divine Ben Crawford) who’s jealous of the plain and now pregnant to God Virgin Mary, of an oversexed shepherd (Jed Brophy in delightful form), of the despicable King Herod (Phil Grieve), and of course though the blessed parents themselves – and their donkey.

Now in case you get confused by the names I’ve thrown into that mix, they may well be different in the night you go. This is part of the charm of Dan Musgrove and Natalie Medlock’s wickedly clever and funny script.

Four actors share each role. They had a minimum of time with the busy director Sophie Roberts, but you wouldn’t know it. Except perhaps for a couple of the cast on Friday night who appealed to the ‘angel in the box’ when their lines eluded them. It was all part of the fun.

It’s a great way to end the year, where old hands and up and comers take to the stage and have a heap of fun with these crazy characters who inhabit Bethlehem – it might be a s**thole according to the innkeeper, a place that doesn’t deserve God’s blessing, but it’s a great place to hang out in the lead up to Christmas.

Highly recommended, though not for the easily offended.
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As subtle as a Liverpool kiss and as devout as a vegan in leather

Review by Phoebe Smith 08th Dec 2010

It’s census time in Bethlehem. The inn is bursting, Gabrielle’s bitching, the Shepherd’s bragging, the Donkey’s braying and bastard boy-child Jesus Christ is coming. In fact, everyone’s coming. Except poor Mary!

Natalie Medlock and Dan Musgrove’s Christ Almighty! is a plethora of penis puns and an abundance of ass. This is the nativity story unexpurgated, a super-sized portion of titillation with a side of masturbation and a healthy squirt of Christmas leer.

In case you’ve been hiding under a rock (another of Jesus’ specialities) or simply don’t pop into the Pit Bar for a daily slice of BATS (read: house sav), Christ Almighty!, BATS 2010 fundraiser, is 8 monologues performed by a rotating cast under the direction of Sophie Roberts. Each actor has had 2 hours of rehearsal with the director and the rest has been entirely up to him or her. This process results in a loose, stand up quality that could have been disastrous, but is successful due to the high calibre of the actors.

Salesi Le’ota opens as the lackadaisical innkeeper and dexterously walks the line between comedy of vulgarity – the men all relish this opportunity to publically scratch their balls – and some more cerebral puns, which you have to buy your own ticket to bear witness to. His understated delivery is a highlight – particularly as we go on to meet several characters with a tendency toward shouting-as-emotion. He is most enjoyable when he makes no secret of either completely losing his lines or ad-libbing (“much funnier than the original script, might I add”).

Next we are introduced to the Angel Gabrielle (yep, looks like The Bible needed a better proof-editor) the bolshy, sexed-up Kate McGill giving God a good bollocking. And also giving mere mortals…well…should you find yourself lonesome at night, try to sit in the front row… but make sure you get a check up the next day, because she’s already been making all kinds of revelations to the beer-swilling Shepherd (Jack Buchanan) who can’t believe his luck and doesn’t mind sharing.  

Jono Kenyon delivers a physically demanding performance as the two wise men and dog – an incongruous but enjoyably schizophrenic monologue in the heart of the play. Balthazar, with saint-like patience, keeps our token-black, camp Caspar and Myrrh-devouring dog Melchior on track, only to be ruthlessly slaughtered by an all-singing, all belly-jiggling Asalemo Tofete in the guise of King Herod. This chicken munching, almost choking don is a crowd favourite – but not for the faint-hearted vegetarian.

After a short interval (every drink you buy is another daub of black paint or an inch of gaffer tape) we are introduced to the melancholic donkey (Stuart McKenzie) who’s coming to terms with the fact that best buddy Joseph needs to reread Leviticus 18:23. While the jokes here can be seen from as far off as the guiding star, the change of pace and tone is refreshing after the tendency toward yelling in the first act.

Paul Waggott picks up this mood and strolls out as Joseph in his typical Simon Pegg style performance. Poor old Jo finds God a hard act to follow and lo and behold, all bestiality aside, he gains our sympathy as he quietly moans. After all, what’s a carpenter without wood?! 

Finally we meet Kate Prior’s Mary in her final minutes of labour as she laments the careers that Joseph’s Jesus could have had and we discover that God ain’t all that. A few minutes shaved off each preceding monologue and we might have full focus for the final one.

Christ Almighty! is as subtle as a Liverpool kiss and as devout as a vegan in leather, but it is a lot of fun, it’s a great cause and you can go again and again without seeing all the same performers twice! Blessed be. 


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Irony and irreverence in glorious festive fun

Review by Hannah Smith 06th Dec 2010

If you don’t already know the deal about Christ Almighty! you have not been paying attention. A rotating cast of Wellington theatre luminaries stumble their way toward greatness in a cheerful Christmas fundraiser. The play is made up of a series of monologues and each night different actors and combinations of actors offer us a different twist on the characters of the classic nativity story.

Night three, cast three, begins with Emma Kinane as the Innkeeper – a salt of the earth dominatrix with a broad accent who introduces us to the world of Bethlehem under King Herod’s rule. She is followed by Emma Draper as the pushy Angel Gabriel (or Gabrielle in this case) a ‘celestial prostitute’ with a very personal relationship with God. And the Three Wise Men. And Joseph. And the Shepherd. And anyone else she can get her creamy hands on.

Jack Buchanan plays the aforementioned Shepherd, an honest Kiwi bloke chugging a can of beer and professing his life has been changed by the ‘revelations’ of the Angel Gabrielle.

He is followed by Erin Banks as the Three Wise Men: Balthazaar who has all the grand plans and ideas, Caspar who has a wee crush on King Herod and Melchior who is, bizarrely, Mexican. There is much humour to be found in the rapid shifts between the characters. 

Unfortunately the Wise Men meet a swift and untimely end at the hands of King Herod, played by Ally Garrett, who is some kind of amazing Kiwi version of a mafia Don gone horribly wrong. Herod tries his damnedest to be liked but when people try to thwart his plans, well, sometimes you just have to Massacre the Innocents. 

Following a short interval Leon Wadham makes an excellent entrance as the long-suffering Donkey, who has been much abused by the Mary/Joseph family unit. His tale of mistreatment at the hands of the Holy family brings a more sombre note to proceedings.

Aidan Weekes, as Joseph, is understandably feeling a bit awkward about his potential inadequacies as a father and husband in comparison to God, a tough act to follow. However, he makes it clear that he is ‘stoked’ about his future as the father of the Messiah and he’s even been practicing up some new skills that he can teach the boy once born. 

Finally, Amy Tarleton comes on to give us Mary’s point of view – chiefly that being the Saviour of the World sounds like a shitty job and frankly she’d been expecting a little bit more from big night of passion with God himself – Joseph doesn’t have to worry so much about following that particular act. 

It’s all pretty loose – but then, that’s the whole idea. The charm lies in the irony and irreverence of the script, and the hasty knocked together improvised quality of the performances. The entire glorious festive shebang is fun and funny.

It will make you want to go on other nights and see what crazy high jinks the other casts are getting up to. Enjoy! 
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Madcap Christmas story

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 06th Dec 2010

If you can imagine Patsy from Absolutely Fabulous playing the Archangel Gabriel and a Coro Street beer-swigging house-wife in curlers playing the Innkeeper then you’ll have an idea of the approach this Bats fundraiser revue has towards the Christmas story.

This novel and irreverent show, made up of eight monologues, each of which desperately needs shortening, is performed each night by different well-known Wellington-based actors. Opening night got off to a very funny start with Bryony Skillington as the saucy Innkeeper cadging drinks from the audience. 

She was followed by Carmel McGlone as Gabriel who feels unappreciated by the bossy Him up above. She goes reluctantly about her job puffing on a fag dressed in a blonde wig, a Lurex mini-skirt, and thigh-length high-heeled boots.

Nick Dunbar was a mad-cap, near naked Shepherd, Jono Kenyon was two wise men and a dog which   ate the myrrh, Paul Harrop a revivalist preacher King Herod, KC Kelly a sad disgruntled Eeyore who is in need of a support group because Joseph had him bear more than just Mary, who was played by Jessica Robinson. Paul Waggott injects pathos and some gentle comedy into the role of Joseph who is upset that he is just a step-dad while Mary is the Mother of God.

Other nights you may see Ginette McDonald as the Donkey, Emma Kinane as the Innkeeper, and Jed Brophy as the Shepherd. The opening night cast has set a high standard for the others to follow despite this cross between stand-up and theatre being loaded down with too many words.
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Makes better sense and brings big laughs

Review by Priyanka Bhonsule (Hutt News) 04th Dec 2010

The beauty of Christ Almighty! is a bit like improvised theatre – every night there will be something (or someone) different on stage, bringing their own colour to the role.

The second night saw Sophie Hambleton, with striking, blonde, hay-covered hair and leopard print tights, greet us all as the innkeeper in Bethlehem who has just put up a “very strange-looking couple” in her stable.

Her tales of fellow innkeepers, questioning whether someone is pagan or not, helps to give the audience an overview of the life of a Jew under King Herod’s rule; it also establishes that the Innkeeper is in it for the good time and money.

Someone who definitely isn’t in it for the money is Gabrielle, the angel played superbly on the night by Ben Crawford. This is one character most open to interpretation I believe, with Ben being the only male in the rotating angel roster.

His chain-smoking, overworked, overwrought and emotional Gabrielle, having fights and make-up pillow talk with God, is hilarious and it takes a certain something, akin to Victoria Secret models, to simultaneously pull off tiny undies and giant fluffy angel wings.

The “enlightened” shepherd, regaling us with tales of his sins before seeing the right path thanks to Gabrielle and evil King Herod were probably the slower ones of the eight monologues (played on the night by Jed Brophy and Phil Grieve respectively); however, it could be a case of still getting to know the material and also who you follow.

In King Herod’s case, he was preceded by the lively schizophrenic Wiseman; one a little bit dim, one token black man and Balthazar, the one given to grand gestures. Jennifer Martin rapidly changes between the three characters while giving the audience plenty to chuckle about the irony of calling these the “wise men”. 

The scene after interval opens not with a person but a donkey – Mary and Joseph’s donkey played in a very Eeyore-type, melancholy way by Ginette McDonald. There are a few ass/donkey puns and you really do have to feel for the donkey’s having gone from being man’s best friend to being more than just a friend.  

Martyn Wood’s Joseph bounds on stage then, in the first instance like many expectant fathers – feeling rather useless when it comes to the actual giving birth part. It’s with affection that he talks of Mary, powering through a hard labour back in the stable; how, thanks to Gabrielle appearing to him in a vision, he has accepted the whole ‘Virgin Mary’ theory but is still a bit put out by having to follow God as an act.

The play is nicely rounded off by the beautiful Virgin Mary, played by Brianne Kerr, telling us her story in between contractions. Kerr’s innocent facial expressions are perfect for showing Mary’s naivety about the whole ‘knocked up by God’ idea and her complete surprise at being picked to be the Mother of God.

Christ Almighty! is a great, festive way to round off the year with some big laughs about the nativity story which, come to think of it, probably makes far better sense this way.
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Rejoice. For unto us a show is reborn

Review by John Smythe 03rd Dec 2010

Oh my God – what are they thinking? Not God, as such, but the minions caught up in one of his/her/its more celebrated acts. What were they thinking?

This is the question Dan Musgrove and Natalie Medlock address in Christ Almighty!, a sequence of eight monologues shared with us over the last 80 minutes of the Virgin Mary’s labour. Her cry (off) opens the show and His birth (on) closes it.

It premiered last year at Auckland’s Basement Theatre. Now Director Sophie Roberts has worked with 32 Wellington actors (four per role) for two hours each on their 10-minute spot, and the rest is up to them.

The show is a fund-raiser – i.e. the entire company waives their cut of the gate – so that Bats “can keep offering our practitioners the support they need to realise the extraordinary visions they want to bring to the stage.” It is also pitched as “a way for Bats to bring the community together to celebrate theatre in Wellington and the festive season.”

So what are they thinking, asking us to review it? The cause is undoubtedly worthy but what if we think it’s bollocks and/or badly done? Fortunately neither is the case – well not with the opening night cast, anyway – so I don’t have to be a Grinch. Roberts and co deliver a gem.

Punters familiar with the nativity story will enjoy the scriptural veracity of each character’s position and get extra shock-value from their irreverent attitudes to The Nativity. Those bereft of a Christian upbringing should still find it entertaining but won’t feel such frisson from the comic crucifixion of sacred cows (to totally mangle my religious metaphors).  

As the warm-up act, Bryony Skillington’s Innkeeper has stepped straight (if that’s the word) out of an early season of Coronation Street, although she flashes more leg than Ena Sharples ever did. She’s not one to gossip but this heavily pregnant lass who’s turned up at her inn – well, stable – claiming to be a virgin … Mind you, there have been prophecies … I particularly like the one about heaps of useless products being sold on JewBay. Ka-ching.

Carmel McGlone’s fag-sucking Angel Gabriella could be a sister of AbFab’s Patsy, as she suffers “the worst gig ever”: wrangling wingless shepherds and wise men with a humungus star, not to mention seeking out “Her” in the first place … “Why her?” is Gabby’s plaintive cry. She’s feeling under-appreciated by her boss, “Big Boy”, too. Delicious.  

Naked joy is the best way to describe Nick Dunbar’s Shepherd; the epitome of ecstasy; sheep on a stick … (you have to be there).  His preoccupation with the dictates (if that’s the word) of Leviticus 18, concerning unlawful sexual relations, is enough to unstick the pages of many a neglected bible. Beautifully bestial.

Billed as the Wiseman, Jono Kenyon gives us all three: mostly Balthazaar with input from a fey Caspar and Melchior the dog. Or is it a multiple personality thing? It’s a complicated piece that I couldn’t quite make sense of amid all the acting. Compelling nevertheless.

Holy Hell, Paul Harrop’s King Herod prefigures your classic USA Deep South fire and brimstone preacher man by many centuries! Yet his propensity for atrocities committed in the name of the Lord – mostly meaning himself – just goes to show that nothing much changes when it comes to corrupt self-interest. Oratorical horror.

There is a merciful ‘less-is-more’ tranquillity in K C Kelly’s Donkey, who simply wants us to know he’s not a bad ass although he does have a sore ass, thanks to his compassion for his master Joseph … Their live have not been the same since he took up with Mary … To heighten the topicality he slips in a nice gag about the MEAA/Actors Equity. Hee-haw …

Paul Waggott’s Joseph is wonderfully low key, somewhat redolent of Ricky Gervais except he’s not a David Brent-style prat. He – Joseph, that is – does, however, need to swot up on his Lev 18:23. Nevertheless his inferiority complex is understandable, as is his gratitude to the Donkey for being a true friend. Such pathos. 

Once we’ve tuned into these seven points of view, the story according to Mary seems almost redundant. Nevertheless the juxtaposition of her innocence with the bizarre experiences she is trying to reconcile, while in the grips of every-increasing labour pains, is beautifully delivered – as is the Saviour – by Jessica Robinson. Such radiance …

It is a testament to all these actors that they claim their roles to such an extent it’s hard to imagine the others listed taking them on – and that, of course, is half the joy. Each show will be quite different in tone, style and interpretation, if not in content. The more you go the merrier for Bats.

Finally mention must be made of Jennifer Lal’s superb lighting design, not least the bright white light that shines forth at strategic moments. Brilliant.

Rejoice. For unto us a show is reborn. Go and go often.
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