Cohen Holloway’s Hypnotastic Tour 2008

The Basement Theatre, Auckland

24/04/2008 - 26/04/2008

BATS Theatre, Wellington

29/04/2008 - 03/05/2008

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

Production Details


You’re standing in the spotlight as he counts down from 5. Then he clicks his fingers: "And sleep!" Suddenly your mind is flooded with creatures, robots, Lindsay Lohen, sexual fantasies – and its all ammunition for the creepy hypnotist in the cheap suit.

And the audience can see it all. 

Cohen Holloway’s Hypnotastic Tour 2008 is a hilarious explosion of pop-culture and puppetry. Cohen has mastered the art of presenting the subconscious onstage, revealing our fantasies and perversions in all their puppet glory. But when it becomes clear that Jareth the Goblin King is enslaving Cohen’s volunteers, Cohen must hypnotise himself to finally finish the battle that began many years ago, when he was just a child. Marvel as Cohen, his audience plants, and the Hypnotastic Dance Troupe fight for all our minds, live on stage in a new show from OUT OF BOUNDS – the award-winning company that brought you FootBallistic and Brain Power. 

Cohen is a Billy T nominee, best known for his awesome John Campbell impersonations on Facelift, and for playing the best friend with a porn issue in Eagle Vs Shark. Joining Cohen is a dream team of Wellington actors, including Rowan Bettjeman (The Glass Menagerie), Jessica Manins (Fitz Bunny), Yvette Reid (Insiders Guide to Love), Simon Smith (Sensible Susan & the Queen’s Merkin), Richard Falkner (Brain Power) and Dean Hewison (FootBallistic).

Cohen Holloway’s Hypnotastic Tour 2008 is unlike anything you’ve ever seen on stage before.  

Warning: Getting your mind blown may leave a stain.

Cohen Holloway
- Himself
Jessica Manins - Lindsey Lohan, Yvette, Cheryl, Sarah, Puppeteer
Yvette Reid - Kate, Herself, Karen, Puppeteer
Simon Smith - Himself, Puppeteer
Rowan Bettjeman - Jareth, Puppeteer
Dean Hewison - Sherman, Himself, Oscar, Puppeteer
Richard Falkner - Himself, Johnny 5, Puppeteer
Nic Gorman - Sarge, Mime, Rodrigo, Puppeteer

PRODUCERS Dean Hewison, Ben Powdrell, Richard Falkner
PROPS Dean Hewison, Richard Falkner, Nicole Spackman, Josh Barnes, Shane Norrie
SOUND DESIGN Morgan Samuel
PUBLICITY Brianne Kerr
COSTUMES Bonne Kemp, Cara Louise, Barbara Duncan
PUPPETS Bonne Kemp
MUSIC Jamie Burgess, Morgan Samuel    

Props save oh-so-silly show

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 02nd May 2008

Hypnotastic is all about mind control and the expose of the suppressed thoughts and desires of carefully selected plants in the audience despite the programme telling us that the 2004 Billy T Award nominee, Cohen Holloway, has dedicated many weeks to becoming the country’s No 1 faux stage hypnotist and that his show may not include any actual hypnotism at all.


He briefly warms up the audience but is almost immediately attacked by a disgruntled knife-bearing participant from his show who, we later discover, wasn’t too pleased at being brought back to reality after a visit to a sexual nirvana.


The flashback sketches that follow reveal that the plants Richard Falkner

and Simon Smith had, respectively, nightmares about cutting off Lindsay Lowen’s foot in a car and being attacked by a lot of furry critters which seemed to be in league with a well-endowed Goblin King who seems to have a thing about Simon.


An interval entertainment follows in which the mime artist Freddie (Nic Gorman) reminds us that Marcel Marceau was an artiste of the theatre though his use of sound effects (Morgan Samuel) were never as perfectly timed as they are at Bats. The next victims are Dean and Yvette whose sex life during their honeymoon is made explicit and much magnified by the theatrical sleight of many hands.


It all gets even sillier with Cohen Holloway hypnotizing himself, the appearance of a grouchy Oscar in a rubbish bin using language you’d never hear on Sesame Street, and a sort of pop opera finale topped off with a dance by the hard-working cast.


However, where the show really scores is in its use of the amazing props and the changes of costume on stage. The props are manipulated by the cast dressed in black, Bunraku style, and the sight of a robot with an enormously long tongue attacking the critters and the use of the windscreen wiper to clear Lindsay Lowen’s foot off the car are the sort of humorous details that show a slick theatrical intelligence at work, whereas a lot of the rest of the comedy seemed to me, though not to the enthusiastic opening night audience, to be ‘we’ll try anything for a laugh.’


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You have to be there

Review by John Smythe 30th Apr 2008

This is another seriously crazy piece of theatre from Out Of Bounds, who brought us Brain Power (Fringe ’07) and Footballistic (Dance Your Socks Off ’07). The format is a hypnotism show and a hard-working team of black-clad puppeteers ingeniously evokes the bizzare fantasies of supposed members of the public planted in the audience.

It starts at the end with a murderous woman, Yvette Reid,  seeking out Cohen Holloway – who happily lends his name to the slightly sleazy persona of the celebrity hypnotist down – then loops back to the start of the hour that brings him to this predicament.

The whole on-stage team – Yvette, Richard Faulkner, Rowan Bettjeman, Jessica Manina, Simon Smith, Nic Gorman – open the show within the show as the Hypnotic dancers: splendidly synchronised. Cohen’s bogus ‘History of Hypnosis’ allows certain persons to insinuate themselves into the audience space to become ‘volunteers’ ….

Thus Richard’s Lindsey Lohan (Jessica) fantasy morphs into a cop car chase with weird cops, severed feet, cars transforming into a robot and a squid respectively, a fist v fish fight, and fame via magazine cover. You have to be there.

Simon’s love of non-furry animals goes awry when multiple Mogwai (Gizmo from Gremlins, for the initiated) glove-puppets deluge his world and transform into (what else?) Gremlins, with a reading lamp as defensive weapon of choice before another robot – a rod-puppet this time – arrives to help out.

Huge kudos to Bonne Kemp for her fabulous puppet-making, worthy of star-billing. She also did the costumes with Cara Louise and Barbara Duncan, while props-making is credited to Dean, Richard, Nicole Spackman, Josh Barnes and Shane Norrie, and these too add tremendous value to a truly wacky show.

Rowan’s oil-smooth Goblin King with his silver balls, a-la David Bowie in Labyrinth, is a show-stopper. By the time The Muppets‘ Oscar the Grouch rises from a rubbish bin it seems clear a major goal of the show is to evoke 1980s nostalgia for the generation who were young and innocent then – and boy do they get off in it!

But there are adult elements too – like the rubber cock, and I’m not talking poultry – and dark themes. The interval mime (Nic with a genuine skill here) is obliged to engage in an inspired mime duel with the ‘hypnotised’ Richard, which does not end prettily.

The final hypnosis act involves a couple and the question of sexual gratification, illustrated in an amazingly choreographed white-glove sequence … You really do have to be there.


John Smythe May 1st, 2008

You're absolutely right Dean - I fully intended to mention Morgan Samuel's creative contrution throughout, and specifically his SFX for the mime duel. Cheers.

Dean Hewison May 1st, 2008

Thank you very much for your review, John. I would just like to give a shout-out for Morgan Samuel, who as the sound designer / operator composed and triggered an insane (well into the hundreds, possibly into the thousands) amount of sound cues that totally complemented all of the work put in by the performers, puppet / prop-makers, etc. The creative support behind this production was the only reason we managed to make it happen at all, for which Ben and I are incredibly grateful.

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