BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

25/02/2017 - 25/02/2017

NZ Fringe Festival 2017 [reviewing supported by WCC]

Production Details

2117. A distant quadrant of the galaxy.  

New Zealand’s greatest adventurers live out their space lives and space dramas aboard Deep Space Naenae. Join our intrepid space crew as they improvise for ten space hours straight, ten space episodes in a row, ten thousand light years away. In space.

From the creators of Lyall Baywatch, Awkward Threesome, and Late Night Knife Fight comes yet another epic soap opera improvathon. Starting at 1pm, with new episodes hourly and a cast of hilarious and talented improvisors powering through till 11pm, this is improv at its most intense – a single unfolding story over 10 hours.

Come for just one episode, or stick it out and get the full soap experience!

“By the cliffhanger ending of episode two, I’m hooked. The plot is too thick to describe; metaphors are now as deep as the ocean they are protecting. The 4 episodes I see each increase in depth and tension, and having to go to the foyer in between episodes feels like the buffering symbol on a Breaking Bad binge… Can’t wait to sink my teeth into next season, buoy, it’s going to be good!” – Theatreview, Lyall Baywatch Fringe 2016

BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Mt Victoria, Wellington
25 Feb 2017,
hourly shows from 1pm-11pm
TICKETS: $20/$10

Theatre , Improv ,

50 mins x 10

The audience is happily won over

Review by Margaret Austin 25th Feb 2017

I am a few seconds late for the start of Episode 2 of Deep Space Naenae at Bats, and find myself running the gauntlet of grinning improvisers lined up to go back onstage. I briefly consider joining them – I’m certain they can handle it.

That they can handle almost anything is an impression soon borne out by these performers in what’s been described as a soap marathon. The action takes up from the cliff hanger of Episode 1 (described by reviewer John Smythe), with the revival of Dr Fisher Paykel from a dose of poison, and all is fast furious mayhem from then on.

This reviewer has difficulty keeping track of what occurs – laughter is a great preventative. Here are some of the lines that erupt like verbal magic from players in such an unpredictable drama: “I’ve been here all the time,” intones one and after just the right length pause, he adds, “As you can see, I’m paralysed from the armpits down”; “Go to the solid matter fuel cells – and see if they’re still solid,” urges another; “I was raised a robot – I need my hand held for this,” confesses a third. 

In Episode 3, the scene in which the chief engineer is demoted by an inadequate captain, who then awards a junior with the title, is particularly delightful. All three sternly maintain character – indeed, character is the only anchor in this uncertain improvisational ocean. 

Director Jennifer O’Sullivan does a masterful job of prompting action and imposing some kind of order on artistic chaos. 

The sense of watching a well-established troupe at work enhances the pleasure this performance gives. The audience is happily won over – and stays that way.  


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Impressively epic improv off to a good start

Review by John Smythe 25th Feb 2017

It is 100 years from now and ten years after the end of the Space War that arose from humanity’s foray into deep space, in search of a new planet. Astonishingly, our ‘discovery’ and attempted occupation of NAENAE – New Alternate Earth, Nice and Earthy – has been disputed by the mighty Voltan Empire, and a Treaty has been forged which the Earthlings interpret as a surrender forced on the Voltans.

But the Treaty has called for a space station where the disparate entities are cohabiting as a galactic community, in order to settle their differences and share custody of the disputed planet.  

This is the allegorically redolent premise upon which the improv marathon Deep Space NAENAE (#DS9i) is building through 10 x 50 minute episodes, even as I write this in response to the first intriguing episode.

A well-appointed Flight Deck takes centre stage and is adaptable with turns of the colourful cardboard consoles; stage left the musician (Liam Kelly as Miles Davis) doubles as barman in the bar of the exotic Voltan Wātea (Clare Kerrison).

It emerges Lieutenant Commander Parathax (Matt Powell) is her father, although he has no memory of the past, only of the future – which makes for a hell-of-an improv challenge. Only once does he suddenly remember something, namely what brought the war to an end and saw Captain Samson Blue (Wiremu Tuhiwai) appointed to his position charge of the ship

But See Saw Jones (Sam Irwin) is the Civilian Overseer with ultimate power, and the parallel with presidents of supposed democracies is inescapable. And rattling about without an actual job is the heroic celebrity ex-pilot Mallory ‘Hot Six’ Rix (Jennifer O’Sullivan; also this show’s director), until See Saw Jones suggests politics as her next challenge. Being a celebrity, not long after claiming her apparently inalienable right to take an enigmatic Voltan called Lexus CX5 (Lyndon Hood) to be, she does the same with See Saw Jones – although he, given his ingrained sense of entitlement, probably thinks he’s taken her.

Ambassador Hippolyta (Christine Brooks), from Earth presumably, has a strong ancient Naenae accent, while the Vulcan Ambassador, Tib-Lubb Plem (Jed Davis) is rather unnerving with his ever-smiling pronouncements.

Junior Officer Xaria Yex (Laura Irish), who has problems with punctuality and the light in her room, is assigned the rank of Ensign but later calls herself an Intern, by way of explaining why she can’t repay a debt to stowaway song-writer Sol Pew Pew (Linda Calgaro).  

Chief Engineer Cormac O’Tube (Brendon Bennets) is on hand to fix whatever needs fixing. Dr Fisher Paykel (Diane Pulham), available to attend to everyone’s physical and mental health needs, also plays chess with The Computer (Darryn Woods; also lighting designer/operator).

As the scenes play out that establish and develop all the above, we discover that Dr Fisher Paykel is a secretly a robot and Junior Officer Xaria Yex is an undercover spy for Ambassador Hippolyta. What, then, are the chances for peaceful coexistence?

Dramatic structure is achieved for Ep 1 by building up to a special reception for Mallory ‘Hot Six’ Rix, where Captain Samson Blue delivers a speec and presents her with a special pen. And the cliff-hanger comes when Chief Engineer Cormac O’Tube high dilithium readings emanating from the pen and Ambassador Tib-Lubb Plem declares that handling in wrongly could make the whole space station explode.

Deep Space NAENAE is off to a compelling start and we hope to bring further review s of later episodes. In the meantime get down to BATS Dome and tune in: each episode starts on the hour up to and including 10pm. You won’t regret it. This is impressively epic improv. 


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