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

18/03/2021 - 18/03/2021

NZ Fringe Festival 2021

Production Details


Ever been caught between a rock and a hard place? Or should I say have you ever been cuffed to rock while… Nevermind.

Squash Co. Arts Collective is proud to present Cuffs, Stockings and Two Smokin’ Barrels written & directed by Finlay Langelaan for the New Zealand Fringe Festival 2021. Wellington’s Squash Co. Arts Collective is built up of recent Victoria University of Wellington graduates and emerging artists, who are debuting in this year’s Wellington Fringe Festival with not just one, but two productions, the other being Music Sounds Better out Here .

Cuffs, Stockings and Two Smokin’ Barrels is a fun and sexy farce which takes place in an unassuming Wellington flat. When Roger (Esteban Jaramillo) returns home from cataract surgery, still regaining his sight, chaos reigns in a house full of unwanted guests. Little does he know that he is surrounded by an unfortunate thief (Damien/ Jett Ranchhod), his cheating wife (Cathy/ Anna Barker), and her lover (Peter/ Caleb Hill).

Featuring live music by Magic Monké and the Banana Boys (Ben Kelly, Aidan McCulloch, Eli Mulheron and Rafe Swan), this is a theatre experience not to be missed.

Packed full of gags (ba dum tiss), wholesome moments, and a hell of a lot of tension. Who will escape with their dignity (and their testicles) intact? The show “has been a brainchild since 2018, a first draft since 2019, and a working project since 2020. The show deals with questions of consent, healthy relationships, and themes of male trauma in the bedroom,” says Director Finlay Langelaan.

The production explores varying themes, “that I as a creative am passionate about. I hope my audience members will leave amused, thoughtful, and curious about new bedroom experiences”, says Langelaan. “This is, I think, an important work for two reasons; first, male trauma is an issue not often touched upon, and second, sexual trauma is not often dealt with through comedy. Both of these things should be changed, and I aim to do so with this performance.”

Cuffs, Stockings and Two Smokin’ Barrels
Tapere Nui, Te Auaha. 65 Dixon Street, Te Aro, Wellington
16 – 18 March 2021
Tickets: $18/$22
Fringe Addict $16,

The performance features mature content, 16+.

Theatre ,

1 hr

Character depth and dramatic stakes traded in for farcical tone

Review by Emilie Hope 19th Mar 2021

A burglary. A cheating wife bringing home her lover. Her husband returning home. The set up for Cuffs, Stockings and Two Smokin’ Barrels (CSTSB) is all there, but does it follow through?

When I walk into Te Auaha, I see a very full stage. Couches, coffee tables, doorframe, single bed, bedside table, wardrobe, vanity screen, door and a lamp. This makes me nervous. Often when the stage is too naturalistic, it’s underutilised or leads to boring blocking. CSTSB manages to avoid these two factors for the most part but there are moments where my fears are realised.

In the balcony are Magic Monké and the Banana Boys. This live band element works well in moments of chaos, almost like the classic clown music you hear when something goes wrong in a kid’s film. Otherwise, I’m not sure of their purpose in the show. It could have been writer and director Finlay Langelaan’s intention to try something akin to the 2018 Icelandic film Woman at War, where jazz players are seen in turning points in the main character’s journey, but no such luck. They are underutilised.

The script itself feels like it was written in the 1950s. Which isn’t inherently a bad thing, merely a stylistic choice. However, the characters, despite being mostly played by actors in their early 20s, have names such as Cathy, Peter, Roger and Bonnie. The most twenty-first century name is Damien. Similarly, the language at times also feels outdated. Again, not inherently a bad thing, but if the play is set in 2021, why not have modern names and colloquialisms?

There are some truly clever lines and good moments of staging where the script and show work together seamlessly, such as in the back and forth of split stage, where the opposite characters freeze. However, apart from these moments, which are also guided by lighting (Jack McGee), the rules of the split stage get lost throughout the play. Are the characters meant to freeze or are they able to be free moving? The lighting could do more to help build rules the audience can follow.

A lot of the character’s choices feel confusing to me too. Why is Damien (Jett Ranchhod) willing to risk prison again for personal items from a now irrelevant relationship? Why does feisty Cathy (Anna Barker) stay with her bigoted husband if she clearly can’t even stand his touch? While funny, I don’t believe marriage counsellor Peter (Caleb Hill) would be so dense as to not see the irony of his own romantic situation. It would be far more interesting if he was aware but struggling with how to approach the situation.

When Damien discovers the lovers Cathy and Peter in bed and points his wooden prop gun at them, their reactions, particularly Cathy’s, don’t fulfil the gravity of the situation, and thus I instantly disconnect from the characters. What are the stakes? How can a gun not be a terrifying thing to be faced with in your own home? Yet Cathy immediately turns everything Damien says into a sexual innuendo, trying to subtly seduce him, not as a tactic to reclaim the power in the scene, but just because she’s sexual? There doesn’t seem to be a lot of substance here, nor in Roger. Roger is clearly the show’s baddie – a rich, womanizing homophobe – but that’s all there his to him. I see nothing genuine in this character.

The tone of the show is farcical. Again, not inherently a bad thing. The actors certainly bring the energy, particularly Barker, who manages to have some spectacular facial and body expressions. Bonnie (Karen Anslow) is a late character addition but keeps the farcical tone with her blank expressions, while Ranchhod’s Damien, seemingly dark and brooding, keeps a well needed balance to the show.

Cuffs, Stockings & Two Smokin’ Barrels is a fast show. It’s a tight 60-minute show with the right set up, but bowls through the middle and wraps up a little too conveniently. I worry the stakes are traded in for the farcical tone, leaving me with an enjoyable experience which lacks the genuine deep dive into characters which I crave.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council