Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

05/10/2011 - 08/10/2011

BATS Theatre, Wellington

01/02/2012 - 04/02/2012

Production Details

When Willy gets caught shoplifting his life is plunged into one of lies, deception and hiding from the pigs. During community service he meets Louis. Another doofus? Or a criminal mastermind? Either way, Willy and Louis are in for a bumpy ride. 

From the writer of TV’s Super City, and fringe favourite Joseph and Mahina, comes a new comedy about friendship, desperate times and very desperate measures. 

Wednesday, October 5th – 8th  7pm 
The Basement – Lower Greys Ave    

Performed by:  Ryan Richards, Thomas Sainsbury, Kate Simmonds  

Tension with possibility

Review by Lynn Freeman 09th Feb 2012

Thomas Sainsbury is one of the hardest working theatre practitioners in the country. I’ve lost count how many plays he’s written on top of writing TV’s Super City.

That time dedicated to the craft of scriptwriting is evident in Crims. It’s not one of his best works, but as always he offers us intriguing characters in desperate situations, full of tension and possibility. And laughs.

Louis (Thomas Sainsbury) is in big trouble financially and is desperately jealous of his favoured and successful baby brother. After a pathetic attempt to mug a feisty old lady, he ends up in community services with the equally hapless.

Willy (Ryan Richards) is in love with the crazy eyed Linda (Kate Simmonds), doyen of the local chippie, but she doesn’t appreciate his shoplifted gifts. These two criminal masterminds (not) come up with a scheme that will get them out of their present difficulties. Will things come right for the lads or will they dig themselves an even bigger hole? 


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Delightful insightful comedy

Review by John Smythe 02nd Feb 2012

Down from Auckland, where it opened last October, Crims is another quirky comedy from Thomas Sainsbury, replete with oddball misfits seeking some sort of traction in this thing called life. The whys and wherefores of petty criminality is the focus, as a by-product of people feeling – and being – inadequate.  

When Willy (Ryan Richards) is asked to empty his pockets at a Superette door, he can only blurt, “Isn’t there a law against privacy [sic] or something?” Written off as a no-hoper by his Dad (Sainsbury), he’s in love with Jeanie (Kate Simmonds) who works at the local fish and chip shop, and he wants to impress her.

Louis (Sainsbury), a hopeless would-be purveyor of organic vegetable gardens, is at the effect of his high-achieving younger brother Jeremy (Richards), who runs a clothing and jewellery store and has a hot girlfriend, Chanel (Simmonds). Quite why he tries to snatch a handbag from an old lady (Simmonds) is unclear but she is more than a match for him …

Thus Willy and Louis end up doing Community Service together, under the no-nonsense eye ofKura(Simmonds).

It’s the detail in the changing Louis/Jeremy and Louise/Willy relationships that is the most intriguing and produces the best comedy. Situation comedy arises from the missteps in the master-plan that eventuates. We’re not talking criminal escalation of Iago proportions here, but the stakes and the outcomes turn out to be higher than expected.

Also a joy to watch is the way the story materialises through the simplest of theatrical devices, as directed by Abigail Greenwood. A table and chairs, a sofa and a small counter serve multiple locations and odd props materialise as and when needed. Actors simply become their next character with a minimum of costume change, allowing the text and their performance skill to carry us through the make-believe.

Simmonds overtly cartoons her characters while Sainsbury is super-minimal in his understatement yet internally true. Richards inhabits the highly contrasting Willy and Jeremy totally, taking each of them through a range of emotional states without ever confusing the issue: an exemplary performance.

For me the ending is somewhat unsatisfying. I do get it’s a black comedy, so moral retribution is not required. It’s also valid that Louis is ultimately a sociopath, in contrast to Willy who cares very deeply. But somehow that feels too convenient in terms of dramatic resolution, given the idiosyncratic credibility of the relationships we have observe.

Nevertheless Crims offers a delightful hour of insightful comedy.


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Indivisibly stellar

Review by Adey Ramsel 06th Oct 2011

Once again Thomas Sainsbury has proved he can hit an audience’s funny bone. Not a tit and bum gag in sight, just acute observation, smart one-liners and finely drawn characters. 

With a sofa, table, three chairs, a cast of three and a cracking script Sainsbury turns his humour on petty criminals. What fuels them into getting into trouble in the first place is a minor theme here. Once in the criminal system our two crims set out on a farcical caper that wouldn’t look out of place in a Brit comedy flick. 

Briefly we touch upon desperation and friendships that bloom in the most desperate situations. But minor plot points aside, it’s the characters, as always, that are the winners here. It would be hard to separate the script, Abigail Greenwoods tight direction and the cast – Ryan Richards, Kate Simmonds and Sainsbury himself – and really I don’t think it would be fair to do so. I’d say neither part of the equation holds the balance of the evening.

Sainsbury’s script sets the whole evening up and delivers some well-observed lines and topical insights. His dialogue gives rise to a multitude of well rounded characters, sharp and well tuned, all in turn portrayed by the stellar trio. 

Ryan Richards is a find. His switch from Louis’s brother Jeremy to dumb ass shoplifter Willy is nicely played but it’s this second incarnation we love. As I say, dumb, bewildered, slow on the uptake, outgoing, optimistic, gullible – all in turn flicker across that face and with body language to suit. Richards is riveting and hilarious to watch. The pauses are pure timing. 

Kate Simmonds switches between high maintenance girlfriend to ‘Bro-town’ community worker with ease and style – a few brushstrokes and she’s there. Her chip shop counter girl is gorgeous.

If surrounding yourself with the right cast is half the job then this is a job well done. Sainsbury himself is no slouch and not sure what to expect, having never seen him on stage before, I am pleasantly surprised (though actually that sounds rude!). His down-trodden Louis is a constant delight and lynch pin to this script. He’s written himself a classic there and it would be nice to see more of Louis and Willy. 

A funny and enjoyable one-act play. Again Thomas Sainsbury has proved that he’s a classic intuitive comedy writer.  
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