Did I Believe It?

Foxglove Queens Wharf Ballroom, 33 Queens Wharf, Wellington

03/05/2011 - 12/05/2011

1885, 27 Galway Street, Britomart, Auckland

09/04/2011 - 30/04/2011

Production Details


Silo Theatre continues its mission to rip apart the traditional audience experience, collaborating with 42BELOW as they trade the traditional theatre space for a downtown bar for their first production of 2011.

The DID I BELIEVE IT? cast welcome Dean O’Gorman to the fold as Rick Ricky O’Shea. O’Gorman will join Adam Gardiner (Eagle vs. Shark; Well Hung), Toni Potter (Shortland Street’s Alice Piper; Ruben Guthrie), Dan Musgrove (Holding the Man; The Giant Face) and Brett O’Gorman (TOYS; I Heart Camping) when they bring Ms. Lilith Skies, Dr. Gwyn Cunny, Chad Le Window and Gavin Bachelor to glorious lo-fi life for your viewing pleasure.

Rick has been described as part Brick from Anchorman and part Ralph Wigam from The Simpsons. He proudly describes himself as “all looks and no brains.” With a certificate in food technology, he’s been voted ‘Friendliest Sociopath of Science’ 1973 and 1976. Rick started his career at TVNZ on What’s Happening Now?, where he had a recurring guest spot as a human lab rat. He then was picked up by the BBC for their hit show Why Is This Happening To Me?, but was unfortunately fired for reasons we can’t legally disclose. A keen hand model when he’s not investigating pseudo-science, Rick plans on bringing a wealth of vacuous infotainment to the team. 

After removing his pants in Silo Theatre’s Ruben Guthrie and TV3’s The Almighty Johnsons, director Oliver Driver has semi-confirmed that Dean will keep his pants firmly attached to his person this time around. We can’t be held responsible however, for any wardrobe malfunctions that may occur between now and the time that DID I BELIEVE IT? hits its first audience on April 9th.

Playing in Auckland and Wellington from next week, DID I BELIEVE IT? serves up a handful of highly comic oddball characters as they cut through the nonsense about this weeks feature investigation: Vodka. Mad, silly, brilliant. In fact, it’s comedy gold. 

If you’d like to familiarise yourself with the DID I BELIEVE IT? team, a handful of intellectual gunk can be seen at www.didibelieveit.com or www.facebook.com/didibelieveit 

DID I BELIEVE IT? : new style, interactive theatre – tastes best with a vodka cocktail 

AUCKLAND season 9 – 30 April 2011
1885, 27 Galway Street, Britomart

WELLINGTON season 3 – 12 May 2011
Foxglove Queens Wharf Ballroom, 33 Queens Wharf

Book at: www.ticketmaster.co.nz or at Real Groovy  
Tickets: $35 – Pre sales / $42 – On the door (plus applicable booking fees)

1hr 30min, including interval

If this is the answer, what was the question?

Review by John Smythe 04th May 2011

Yes I do, eventually. On entering the Foxglove Bar’s main door, on the harbour side, I find no sign whatever that a performance is in the offing, or where the Ballroom might be. I have scuttled past smokers lurking in the portals so may have missed some signage. Some friends direct me out and around to the city side of the building. Even past the ticketing table there is more than one option and no sign …

The upstairs bar is chocka with punters, seated on long rows of chairs facing the bar, and behind them at high bar tables and stools. Flat screen TVs display ‘42 Fun facts about Vodka’ in a font size too small for easy reading.

There is no programme as such but the promo flyer promises “New style, interactive theatre which revolutionises the audience experience.”  

Does it deliver on that promise?  

No. It’s an extended revue sketch. As a retro send-up of the popular TV science shows of the 1970s – pitched as “The NZ Herald’s ‘best show’ to 10 years, now presented live!” – it would work better as a recurring sketch in a skilfully edited TV comedy show.

And there is nothing interactive about it. The audience are passive observers. Apollo 13: Mission Control is interactive. Did I Believe It? is not. They don’t even purloin something from the audience to test the theory that the whole universe is 80 percent vodka. They use a cabbage instead.

The actors, who collaborated in the script’s creation with director Oliver Driver and writer Jodie Molloy, are clearly defined retro TV stereotypes and each reveals a flipside behind their public personae.

Adam Gardiner captures Gavin Bachelor’s phoney TV presenter tones perfectly and quickly lets us see he is an egotistical control freak. More of this is revealed when he role-pays a suburban husband with attitudes still stuck in the 50s: a dramatic and disturbing moment that is never followed through.

Toni Potter’s ever-smiling Ms Lilith Skies is the dumb blonde token tottie who takes a few opportunities to get the men back by insinuating they have small dicks, etc. Used mostly as a vehicle for sexual innuendo, she falls way short of capturing the essential changes feminism was bringing to 70s women. (She could, for example, have felt more qualified and entitled to Gavin’s job than he is, while remaining obliged to be the bit of fluff because TV-land hasn’t caught up with the ‘real world’ yet.)

Moustachioed and desperately cheesy Dean O’Gorman as Rick (Ricky) O’Shea* postures a lot, betraying his gayness long before it occurs to him that this may be so. Brett O’Gorman’s white-coated Dr Gwyn Cuddy is the bumbling scientist who turns out not to have a clue. They share one sequence that offers a timeless reveal on sibling rivalry and top it, later, with an out-of-left-field skit depicting Stalin and Hitler as excitable and petulant gay boys. These were high points for me, even though I am unsure how they fit the overall objective (assuming there is one).  

I wouldn’t be surprised to learn they all had great fun developing the show, entertaining each other hugely in the process. And the audience does laugh a lot at its Wellington opening, mostly in the early stages. But when it fails to draw its threat together, to coalesce into something bigger than itself by way of paying off the attention we’ve paid, the laughter gets thinner and less frequent.

So if the retro 70s TV science show (live!) is the vehicle, what are the goods on board?

It’s hard to say what is the means and what is the end; what is the context and what is the content; which is the What and what is the Why that delivers the How.

Obviously “this week’s feature investigation topic” is vodka because 42BELOW is the major sponsor that came on board to help Silo get a show up despite the financial strife it’s been in (see the NZ Herald article for some insight into their rationale). And the team’s investigations into vodka become a means by which 70s behaviour and values are satirised. Maybe that is the purpose – or is it vice versa?

If the first half is mostly concerned with how vodka is used socially in 70s NZ – plus the Dr Cunny’s attempt to prove how much vodka there is in the universe, using his Vodkatron 5000 – the second half (the show runs to 90 minutes including an interval) focuses more on the European and Scandinavian origins of vodka. Except we do return to put the obligatory focus on 42BELOW: the world’s first ever flavoured vodka (or is it)?

In the interests of science and the quest to show how feelings can be bottled, ever-happy Lilith becomes the target for misogynist meanness again. The Stalin / Hitler binge-drinking and subsequent phone-call sketch caps the story of vodka in the East, then we go West to discover how it happened in the USA. All very amusing. And maybe that’s all the purpose is: to amuse.

The constant returns to the TV show genre’s tempo and tones might work better if the departures were more scary or discombobulating. That they are not may be a function of playing it “where the people already are” – i.e. in a bar – rather than in a theatre. As it stands, it ends up feeling as if sending up the retro genre is the major objective of the whole show after all.

Playing alongside the Comedy Festival, of which it is not officially part, this Silo Theatre + 42BELOW show can be seen as a wacky entertainment dedicated purely to raising laughs. In that context, cutting it back to half the length would reduce our expectation that it deliver something more.

As the first production (it opened in Auckland on 9 April) of one of NZ leading professional theatre companies, however, I can’t help feeling that if Did I Believe It? is the answer, there is something wrong with the question.  
– – – – – – – – – –
*It seems that Dean O’Gorman came in before the Auckland opening to replace the otherwise-engaged (in the NZ Underbelly TV miniseries) Dan Musgrove, who was – according to publicity – to have played someone called Chad-Lee Window (as per the publicity shot) and presumably participated in the development. And now we must count ourselves lucky that Dean is able to see this season through before taking up his recently won role in The Hobbit.  
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.   


bored May 4th, 2011

John you may be interested in this link


it is from a British Televison show called "Look Around You" which appears to be the influence for this show... so your saying it would be better suited for that format is an interesting observation

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Retro ridicule of scientific gobbledegook

Review by Stephen Austin 10th Apr 2011

Did I Believe It? has been helping us to think for nearly forty-two years… apparently.

This particular brand of investigative journalism cum science learning show has been a household name since the 70s, examining subjects as diverse as snoring and wind. Now, for the first time, Gavin Batchelor, Dr Gywn Cunny, Ms Lillith Skies and Rick Ricky O’Shea are going live in front of a studio audience to look at the effects, history and science of vodka. 

Of course, this being a live television broadcast and alcohol being involved this does not go quite according to plan. 

The script, devised by Oliver Driver, Jodie Molloy and the cast – takes as its starting point those newscasters from the seventies that those of us of a certain age grew up on and lampoons the boy’s-own club that much media was at that time. The one female reporter, Lilith (Toni Potter) is all teeth, hair & boobs and is mostly relegated to the task of presenting the lighter aspects of the show or being the “spokes-model”.

All of the performers commit well to their retro roles, but struggle with the limited space – the stage is a sliver of rostra down one side of the bar area, likely to maximise as much audience space as possible for each performance (indeed, opening night was packed to the rafters). 

There are some pretty funny physical moments from the constriction and a couple of great set pieces (especially the futuristic house-wife suit and the “portable” computer). Dean O’Gorman, as Ricky O’Shea, especially finds just the right tone in his overly-masculine cheeseball role.

Most of the material seems to side-step any depth and instead goes for cheap laughs, especially when it involves pointing up the chauvinistic attitudes of the era. Maybe a little less concentration on fart jokes and gay humour would highlight the over-seriousness of the whole situation to add a further level of ridiculousness. 

References to Twitter, Facebook and other modernisms seem anachronistic and somewhat unnecessary; it would work better if either the characters were still stuck in their era within the modern world or the audience was being transported back to the 70s.

Touted as “interactive theatre to revolutionise the audience experience”, this type of comedic performance within a bar space really is nothing new – other devisers have explored the uses of this type of locale much better and with more immediacy. It also should be noticed that much of the concept of this piece strongly derives its format from 90s British faux-University comedy, Look Around You, in its approach to presenting ridiculous scientific gobbledegook. 

A fun night of scientific nonsense, with the PC filter completely switched off, designed more for an audience to enjoy the sponsors’ product than to think too hard. 

For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.   


Steve Austin April 11th, 2011

Yes, both O'Gorman boys were in this.

Grae Burton April 11th, 2011

 Both are in it though aren't they?

Isla Adamson April 11th, 2011


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