Your Place. Or Mine. Whatever Works., Wellington

10/02/2014 - 23/02/2014

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

07/10/2014 - 11/10/2014

The Dark Room, Cnr Pitt and Church Street, Palmerston North

11/09/2015 - 12/09/2015

Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

10/10/2017 - 14/10/2017

BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

30/09/2014 - 04/10/2014


NZ Fringe Festival 2014

Production Details

NZ Fringe 2014

Your Place. Or Mine. Whatever Works.

10-23 Feb, Time as suits (40mins)

Sept-Oct 2014

The beautiful, intimate first person fable that took the NZ Fringe by storm is back 

Originally performed in living rooms around Wellington as part of this year’s New Zealand Fringe Festival – where it won Best Solo and was nominated for Best Theatre – Everything is Surrounded by Water is the latest show from award-winning, audience-favourite theatre company My Accomplice.

What was expected to be a leisurely run of a dozen or so performances for friends and family in the Fringe ballooned, solely through word of mouth, to forty-three performances over two and a half weeks to over two hundred people all over the city, friends and strangers alike.

Told entirely in the first person, Water tells the story of a series of mysterious happenings in a man’s life over the last few months of 2013, all of which seem to connect back to both the odd cephalopods, Cuttlefish, and the day when, at the age of seven, he sold his soul to his best-friend. For a chip. It’s a touching, weird, funny, kinda sad story.

Last year, My Accomplice was nominated for a jaw-dropping seven Chapman Tripp theatre awards and later this year they’ll be opening BATS’ newly renovated 1 Kent Terrace home with the STAB commission Watch. But, believing that there is no such thing as being too busy they are taking Water out of living rooms and into theatres.

Water is the brain-child of My Accomplice co-creative directors Uther Dean – the busiest man in Wellington theatre and creator of the successful audio drama podcast The Witching Hours – and Hannah Banks – one of the top ten performers of last year according to The Lumiere Reader. They wrote it together with Banks directing Dean as the solo performer.

“We wanted to make a show about our own dealings with mental illness,” said Dean, “but without making it preachy or maudlin. We realised pretty quickly that meant it needed to be both true and magical.

“And what is more magic and more true than real life?”

Taking it from audiences in the low single digits in homes and cafes, to prepping it for actual theatres has been a challenge. And it’s not just a case of speaking a bit louder.

“We’re working a lot on how we can fit it into bigger spaces while retaining the same close, intimate aura it had in people’s homes,” said Banks.

“We want it to still feel like it’s just for you, because it is.”

More information can be found at everythingissurroundedbywater.com, myaccomplice.co.nz and bats.co.nz.


Everything is Surrounded by Water plays
9pm, 30 September – 4 October 2014
BATS theatre – Out of Site, Cnr. Cuba and Dixon Street, Wellington
$20/$15. Book at bats.co.nz.


Everything is Surrounded by Water plays
9pm, 7 – 11 October 2014
The Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland
$20/$15. Book at iticket.co.nz

Produced by Nathan Mudge
SOLO 15 festival at The Dark Room. cnr Pitt & Church Streets
11-12 September 2015, 6pm 


Basement Theatre  
Dates:  10 Oct – 14 Oct 2017
Tickets: $18–$22  
Bookings: www.basementtheatre.co.nz or phone iTicket 09 361 1000

Tickets to both Everything is Surrounded by Water and A Public Airing of Grievances: $25–$30

Written by Hannah Banks and Uther Dean
Performed by Uther Dean
Directed by Hannah Banks

Theatre , Solo ,

1hr 15 mins (no interval)

Everything is Surrounded by Storytelling #1

Review by Matt Baker 13th Oct 2017

Written by Uther Dean and Hannah Banks, and performed and directed by the former and latter respectively, Everything is Surrounded by Water is a journey of quarter-life crisis soul-searching. Fortunately, Dean has an acute awareness of and philosophical regard to the content of his work, which, in addition to his knowledge as a theatre practitioner, prevents the show from being yet another narcissistic theatre show about a journey of quarter-life crisis soul-searching.

Dean prefaces his performance by proclaiming that this is a story, not a theatre show, however, if one considers theatre to be a form of storytelling, and the inclusion of a simple yet evocative lighting design to be a theatrical component, this statement seems to be more about setting the style for the audience rather than negating a medium. The show may have started in homes and cafes, but The Basement is Auckland’s most prolific theatre, and its profit share model cannot be the only reason to choose it over Garnet Station or the Old Folks Association. [More]

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.


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An unusual and bittersweet experience

Review by Leigh Sykes 11th Oct 2017

The show beings with little preamble. One moment, Uther Dean is standing at the back of the performance space, watching the audience come in and settle down. The next moment, he steps into the light and begins to tell us a story. It is a story about someone else, and the way that credible futures, rich in detail and humanity, can be created or destroyed within those tiny moments of seemingly mundane potential, such as seeing someone across the room at a party.

Before we hear the ‘truth’ of this person’s story, we are told that ‘this is not a show’; that there will be no ‘acting’; that ’90-95%’ of what we will hear is true and that the remaining 5-10% is lies acting as a narrative glue holding everything together.  

The show is indeed a story, told with an appealing combination of laxity and precision. It appears to be a stream of consciousness, telling a series of observations and interwoven stories while taking note of and responding to the audience in ways that make it seem as though much is improvised.

There are moments that are very real, where anxiety, loneliness and depression are described in ways that speak to a depth of knowledge and experience of these issues. There also moments where stumbles over words or parts of sentences are embraced and then corrected, suggesting that the storyteller is perhaps struggling to remember. It is to Dean’s credit that I find it impossible to tell how much is real memory lapse and how much is created for effect. And then there are parts of the stories that seem to spin off without control.

Despite the assurance early on that ‘this is not a show’ the craft of the piece begins to appear, as seemingly disparate stories weave together in a satisfying way that points to a precisely structured narrative. I believe that ‘Uther’ the storyteller is a carefully constructed character, in the same way as other characters, including Wellington, are vividly formed throughout the piece. With its small size and ability to bring together everyone Uther has ever known, the city of Wellington is important in enabling much of the story to happen.

The story is a carefully constructed meditation examining the rich and often invisible inner life that everyone carries within them, alongside a Faustian fable dealing with Uther’s loss of, and subsequent search for, his soul. Although this metaphysical search could seem quite far removed from the carefully achieved reality of the rest of the piece, in actuality, the careful set up to this section of the show means that the vivid imagination of our storyteller can now be set free. And it is in the freeing of this imagination that the show is able to ponder the deeper questions that are raised. It becomes clear that the story has not strayed far from the earlier moments of depression and loneliness, offering us insights into the way these issues can lead to the fraying and dissolution of a sense of self. 

By the end of the piece, I am not sure how many of the statements at the beginning of the show are actually true. While it may be true that this is not a ‘show’ in the most theatrical sense of the word, it is still a well-crafted and thought-provoking piece of work. It is funny, as well as sombre; laid back as well as precisely constructed. It is a piece that feels remarkably quick during the telling, and yet offers something to ponder for some time afterwards.

For an unusual and bittersweet experience of well-made storytelling, this is worth seeking out. 


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Ensconced in Life

Review by Adam Dodd 13th Sep 2015

Everything is Surrounded by Water (Best Solo – Wellington’s 2014 Fringe Festival) is a convergence of two minds: Hannah Banks (one of The Lumiere Reader‘s top ten 2014 performers) and Uther Dean (Wellington-based director and creator of audio drama podcast The Witching Hours) who wanted to explore their dealings with mental illness. They realised that the result would need to both true and magical, and Water is. Water is real life; is ‘sonder‘. An hour of it at least. Well.. 95% real life and 5% adhesive deceit.

This is also a convergence of two stories. As a kind of background, the first illustrates how our not-so-inviolable sense of self can be wrenched from us. The second relates the search for such a sense lost, or traded for a chip at age seven. The difficulty in Uther Dean’s quest is how do you accomplish finding something that – unless provoked into ‘being’ – is impossible to experience, let alone see. Where do you even start?

Dean sets his stride from the outset seemingly without worry about polish, but with a presence that makes the telling feel like a living thing. Refreshingly self-conscious and responsive to the audience, Dean delivers much of Water couched like the cuttlefish which feature in the story (“this is not a show”).

Physically ensconced between the arms of a large armchair; Verbally ensconced in the rhythm of the telling, venturing only so far as to take refreshment as needed, or to morph into a new character. He lets us know that if we find him standing then something has gone awry.

It’s a little odd at first but leaves me wondering and wanting for the portions of the story which incite Dean to dart forth from the armchair and the narrative both to grab at imagery, insights into humanity, life and lives coasting parallel to each other.

Water is only on in Palmerston North for two nights: a brief window but if you ever get the opportunity I recommend you go and see it. Failing that contact Dean through http://myaccomplice.co.nz to create an opportunity. You’ll laugh more and feel more because of it.


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Soulless Depths

Review by James Wenley 08th Oct 2014

An hour before the show, Uther Dean is sitting on a couch in The Basement foyer, playing arcade games courtesy of Young & Hungry. He later hangs outside the venue. When it’s approaching the 9pm mark, he goes to the door to usher us in. Once we’re all in the Studio, he strolls in, finds his light, and immediately propels into Everything is Surrounded by Water. No apparent pre-performance ritual, no warm-up, no getting your head into the performance zone in the green-room, Uther is ready when we are. 

It gibes with the origins of the show, written by Uther Dean and Hannah Banks (also director) of Wellington’s My Accomplice company, which was originally performed in his flat and other people’s homes in the Wellington Fringe earlier this year (for which it won Best Solo). [More


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Spirals out and snaps back

Review by Cherie Moore 08th Oct 2014

Everything Is Surrounded by Water is more of a story telling session than a play. Uther Dean, as the solo actor on a sparse stage, sets the tone of the piece by directly addressing the audience and explaining exactly what to expect. 

Uther is incredibly likeable and he’s a joy to watch. There is a transparency throughout the show where he moves from being really in the story, to talking to the audience about what he’s doing, or how parts of the story link.

His vocal energy is something in between casual conversation and heightened performance and tends to get into a bit of a pattern, which is a shame because a lot of the images in the material are beautifully written. Beautiful too is Sam Mence’s lighting design.

This story is personal to Uther and director Hannah Banks, which helps the authenticity of the work. There are many moments when it feels like Uther is saying and thinking things for the first time, which is impressive considering the style and the fact that Uther has performed Everything Is Surrounded By Water close to sixty times. 

The form of the piece often spirals out into digressions from the main plot and is snapped back as Uther weaves a storytelling web. I have to admit there are times I get lost and moments when the writing is self-indulgent, and I don’t always know what the point is.

The first half of the show is stronger and I think the rest would be strengthened with an edit to tighten the whole piece. It’s fantastic to see a show that’s built to tour and can be done anywhere.


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Prosaic yet epic and poetic; dark yet light; exquisite

Review by John Smythe 01st Oct 2014

Also returning to Wellington from the NZ Fringe and gracing the stage at Bats (Out of Site) – as God-Belly is in the 6.30 slot – Everything is Surrounded by Water is simultaneously similar in its insightfulness and diametrically different in its mode of presentation.

In the guise of a cosy ‘fireside chat’, largely delivered from a retro red velvet wing chair attended by a standard lamp, Uther Dean’s story (“It’s not a show,” he tells us) – co-written with Hannah Banks who also directs him – ranges from spontaneous-sounding anecdote and commentary to the heady heights of an eloquent prose poem.

Though names and places have been changed “to protect the innocent” and he ventures into ‘magic realism’, there is no doubting the authenticity of his subjective experience. And the way he tells it brings it vividly alive in our imaginations: still the best ‘special effect’ theatre has to offer.

It is the story of how Uther lost and then recovered his soul: on the surface, an extremely prosaic deviation from the Faustian legend, involving primary school boys and – decades later – a sale on Trade Me, yet in its own way it is just as epic as the Marlowe and Goethe versions.

In order to tell his story, Uther must first tell that of Ben and a young woman called India … Another, dubbed ‘French Girl’ is closer to home … There are hints of Kafka’s Metamorphosis involving multiple cuttlefish rather than a dung beetle, and somehow the terrors generated by an over-active imagination become poetic and beautiful in the telling.

Uther delivers on his promise of darkness and delivers even more so with the brightness and lightness of his essential being.  

I don’t want to say more because you will respond in your own way according to your own geographical, emotional, psychological and metaphysical reference points. And respond you must, by treating yourself to this exquisite hour (in Wellington this week then Auckland next week; see here for details).


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Insightful and above all, honest

Review by Lucy O'Connor 11th Feb 2014

Trying to hunt down a flat in the congested suburb of Aro Valley at 10am on a Monday isn’t your typical routine before attending a show. But here I am in the wind and rain trying to source the location where I will bear witness to this one-man show performed the comfort of his own home.

My ‘plus one’ was not able to make it – probably due to weather-related lack of motivation. This could be very interesting indeed without someone else. I am the crowd. I really hope I enjoy this show because my facials don’t possess the self-control to hide disappointment and/or empathetic embarrassment.

I finally discover the flat snaked down an unassuming brick pathway and knock on the door. Uther (pronounced youth-er) welcomes me in to his pretty typical Aro Valley student flat. It is not the tidiest, but not a far cry from my days studying down at Otago. Who am I to judge?

He has cleared literally half of his dining room table (the other half is covered in a pile of everything) and I am instructed where to sit – a chair on which I cannot move too violently for fear the base will fall off. This is great! 

After a bit of polite banter, he begins with a pre amble about how this came to be. Uther and his friend (director of the show Hannah Banks) wrote this story after a string of occurrences last year. Supposedly around 95% is true and the remaining embellishment is not comprised of what you might think. Alluring indeed.

He relaxes in to an introductory story, which showcases humanity in all its flaws. Although we are victims of thinking we possess a core truth, a soul, that is truly and only ours, we allow ourselves to be shaped and trimmed and layered in what others deem acceptable to the point where we are the projects of other everyone else. This is intense. But I get it. 

The character of Uther enters the story with a punch. One of the first things we learn about him is that he has an over-active imagination. Without straying too far from the point he runs on an exemplary tangent. This is a trend that continues throughout the show; a side story is sent just far enough before we are reeled back to the main point, which is a very endearing trait. It provides just enough understanding before we wonder about the purpose and lose interest.

I don’t want to give away the story, for I think it is one that is worth witnessing rather than reading about. What I will say is that Uther delivers a performance that is insightful and above all, honest. His use of metaphors and similes are so thought-provoking and apt that I wish I had more time to digest them. But this story is all about flow, about energy, about the ebbs and decay of the very life we live.

The excitement, the betrayals, the surprises and the regrets are all left there on the clear part of the table in front of me. Uther is relaying emotion through word, through the rhythm of syllables and the pace of delivery.

One thing I notice about half way through is that he has been sitting opposite me the entire performance. Key word: sitting. Not once does he use his body to exert excess nervousness or to further enhance the tale. He doesn’t need to. His words, his gestures and the direction and intensity of his gaze tell it all. I think anything more than this would have been too animated and too distracting; you would lose the ability to lock yourself in to the story, which in the end is about life. 

Uther is a giving actor. Some parts I can tell are rehearsed and recalled at just the right moment while others are entirely natural and organic.  I guess this is the beauty of a performance uninterrupted by external stimuli. 

The 45 minute show feels like 20. And as with most good tales, this one too has a happy ending.   

With this particular performance, you can choose to have Uther come to you or you can go to his Aro Valley flat. You can have as many or as few people with you as you like and all he asks in return is a koha – that is whatever you think his performance is worth. He mentioned that the show times are filling up fast, especially in the evenings so if this interests you, book now.

[A snippet of this play had an outing in 2011 as part of 6 Little Plays 4 Christchurch – reviewed here.]


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