Don’t Eat the Bed ...

BATS Theatre, Wellington

28/02/2011 - 04/03/2011

NZ Fringe Festival 2011

Production Details

Not everybody has a sweet tooth…
The Romantic Comedies We Love to Hate

Pinwheel returns to Fringe 2011 with a generic, mediocre, predictable, unsatisfying and cliché romantic comedy, which is totally and utterly blind drunk on surrealism. This new devised piece endeavours to ask what is truly at the heart of human love when it is stripped naked of its cliché.

When people hear the term ‘rom-com’ there is usually a bit of a cringe factor or a guilty pleasure associated with the genre. Pinwheel spent a lot of time researching the storylines and light-hearted commonalities in romantic comedy films. They also sought to figure out what exactly it is that compels people to keep watching, and why this genre continues to remain so commercially successful. As much as people love to hate these films, there is an undeniable satisfaction in the way that the audience gets exactly what they want and everything gets sewn up so perfectly at the end. 

Don’t Eat the Bed aims not to parody a genre but to deconstruct it; to find what the real purpose and effect of it is, and amplify it. “It’s easy to poke fun at something through silly imitation, we have a more productive and affecting insight in mind,” says McGrath. The process of deconstructing a whole genre has been hugely exciting and rewarding, but with such a wide scope and long history, exceedingly difficult. “We’ve spent long hard hours watching the most definitive and most obnoxious of the romantic comedy genre and we think we’ve got a fairly comprehensive understanding.”

“It is when you are really limited, and have a difficult challenge ahead of you, that the unique and unexpected ideas come out. It is in the essence of the DIY nature of theatre, and deeply rooted in the culture of New Zealand,” says Director Thomas McGrath of the strict creative limitations and goals of the show.  The effect of every aspect has been considered in this production. “The genre has provided us with the what, and it has been our job to find the how; we’re going to see how far we can push it.  I’m definitely excited” says McGrath.

BATS theatre will come alive with sickly sweet love this fringe. Come and get your heart smashed, then lovingly and inventively glued back together. Join us for the feel good romantic comedy of the summer! Then we’ll smoke some crack!


Don’t Eat the Bed 
Where: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
When: 6:30pm, Mon 28th Feb – Fri 4th March
Tickets: $16 General, $14 Concession, $12 Fringe Addict
Book at:
(04) 802 4175  

Brigid Costello
Aaron J Baker
Bronwen Pattison
Kathryn Jackson 

Director: Thomas P McGrath
Producer: Kathryn Jackson
Music & Sound Design: Tane Upjohn-Beatson
Costume & Props: Bronwen Pattison
Set: Hannah Smith
Publicity by Pinwheel 

Physically strong, vocally weak

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 03rd Mar 2011

Romantic comedies have been the staple diet of film goers for over 80 years. The basic plot of a rom-com, as described by Wikipedia, is that two protagonists, usually a man and a woman, meet, part ways due to an argument or other obstacle, then ultimately reunite. 

But for Pinwheel Productions the genre has become very passé and in their production Don’t Eat The Bed they claim to have deconstructed the rom-com and put some life back into it. That they achieve this goal is somewhat debatable, entertaining though the production is. 

He is a chocolate seller, she is a dentist. They meet; fall in love then under the influence of his mate he disgraces himself at her awards ceremony and then shoots her. But in true rom-com fashion they make up and live happily ever after. 

Visually the many disjointed scenes create pretty pictures with the actors bringing lots of physical energy to their roles but the dialogue, and fortunately there is little of it, is so laid back and lacking vocal energy that it often becomes inaudible. 

And although the contradictions within the genre of rom-com that the group tries to highlight through their deconstructionism are occasionally seen the piece as a whole needs far more work in order to create continuity and a sense of theatricality. 
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.   


Make a comment

Po-faced rom-com gem

Review by John Smythe 01st Mar 2011

Romantic comedy: the secret vice. Comedy in the classical sense, because all is resolved in the end. The happy ending that suggests all the bad times are past and only joy awaits … Yeah right.

Rather than just send the whole genre up, Pinwheel Productions has deconstructed it and surrealised it core elements.  Quite why the result is called Don’t Eat the Bed escapes me, though (any thoughts?)

Director/writer Thomas McGrath and his devising cast bring us the ‘girl meets boy / boy loses girl / yet somehow it all works out’ story of high-achieving dentist Lillian (Brigid Costello) and ace chocolate maker Zac (Aaron Baker). Despite trying to avoid it, through fear and trepidation, they meet by spectacular accident – a brilliant moment – and so the whole catastrophe begins ….

Costello’s background in dance comes to the fore in manifesting Lily’s professional exterior and romantic heart while Baker captures well the amiable bloke caught between fidelity to his gross-out bogan mate Ollie* – unerringly nailed by Louis Tait – and this thing called ‘love’ for Lily. Despite the heighted performance style, they let us care about their fates; an essential component in making it work.

Lily’s best friend Dan*, played by Kathryn Jackson, is there to encourage her to follow her heart. In other social sequences, which include OTT drag-queenish creations manifested by Bronwen Pattison, I am unable to comprehend the shrieked and gabbled dialogue. This may be intended but as soon as it’s denied you, you want to know what you’re missing. Pattison does manage to tone it down a bit a President of the Dental Association but needs to know that trying too hard to be funny has the opposite effect.

Rather than pull at the heart strings, the cast play out most of the rom-com clichés with poker-faces: an effective alienation device. The stand-out scene of this ilk comes early on, when Lily performs dental surgery on Zac, simultaneously epitomising the dentist’s commentary while deconstructing male sexual practice. A cunning linguistic gem.

Tane Upjohn-Beatson provides another excellent soundscape. Hannah Smith’s moveable set of square tables and a mock dentist chair, Bronwen Pattison’s props and costumes and Uther Dean’s lighting design all contribute to a whole that is well worth seeing.
– – – – – – – – – – –
*A note on craft: I had to request the character names because they are not mentioned in the programme and are not clear from the performance. Just because a script is littered with the names – attached to dialogue and in action descriptions – that doesn’t mean the audience knows who’s who. It’s part of the scriptwriting craft to ensure names are judiciously mentioned.  
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. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council