Finding Murdoch

Globe Theatre, 104 London St, Dunedin

26/04/2018 - 05/05/2018

Production Details

A play by Margot McRae

Ex Otago rugby player and a member of the 1972 All Black touring side playing in Britain, Keith Murdoch is sent back to New Zealand amid a storm of controversy. He never came home. No one knew where he was or what had really happened. Some twenty years later a New Zealand journalist is given the job to find him. This is a play is not only about rugby but the questionable ethics of a new age media, determined to get a story.

The Globe presents a fascinating, highly charged piece of theatre that deals with one of the keys to “Kiwi Culture”. The wearing of the black jersey and what it means.

Thursday April 26 to Saturday May 5. 7.30pm.

Sunday April 29 at 2.00pm. 

No Sunday or Monday evenings.

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Jane, a television journalist - Sofie Welvaert

Keith Murdoch -  Paul Ellicott

Geoff Ritchie, TV producer - Peter Hocking

Pete, TV director - Richard Huber

Ian Kirkpatrick, ex-All Black captain - Campbell Thomson

Lin Colling, an ex-All Black half back - Warren Chambers

Ernie Todd, All Black manager - Richard Huber



Director Andrew McKenzie

Stage Manager Kay Masters

Light Design Brian Byas

Sound Design Brian Byas

Set Construction Ray Fleury, Keith Scott

Costumes Sofie Welvaert

Technicians Brian Byas, Helen Fearnley

Cardiff Arms Park Match Choreography by Jared Culling and Brian Byas

Theatre ,

Murdoch’s story conveys strong themes

Review by Barbara Frame 30th Apr 2018

Keith Murdoch (who died last month) took being an All Black to extremes. Being good at rugby was part of it, of course, but so were boorish and violent behaviour and never saying sorry. A fight with a Welsh hotel bouncer in 1972 tipped him into disgrace and self-exile in Australia.

This is the stuff of Finding Murdoch, Margot McRae’s play about about a journalist’s search for him in 1990. Jane, whose character is based on McRae herself, manages to track Murdoch down (this is not a spoiler) but finds herself having to make an almost impossible decision.

Rugby culture, and its tendency to make celebrities out of oafs, is a strong theme. The media, too, come in for a hammering. [More


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Compelling exploration of celebrity, privacy and the impact of curiosity

Review by Izzy Lomax-Sawyers 27th Apr 2018

Finding Murdoch follows Jane (Sofie Welvaert), a young woman working hard to make her mark on the boys’ club of early 1990s TV journalism as she investigates the story of stoic 1970s All Black legend Keith Murdoch (played by Paul Ellicott). Murdoch disappeared from public life after being sent home following an incident in the 1972 tour of Wales. Jane’s producer, Geoff Ritchie (Peter Hocking), pushes her to uncover the scandal behind why he was sent home and to find out what he is doing now, hoping to put his TV studio on the map.

Director Andrew McKenzie (who also designed the set) makes excellent use of the stage, bringing the worlds of 1990s TV journalism and 1970s rugby to life with ‘media scrum’ scenes and a wonderful re-enactment of Murdoch’s last game as an All Black (choreographed by Jared Culling and Brian Byas).

McKenzie also makes great use of his small and talented cast, many of whom act several roles as part of the ensemble. Jane is our protagonist and narrator, offering commentary on the events as they unfold. Welvaert connects well with the ethical dilemmas of modern journalism, although at times her portrayal is a little earnest for my taste, losing some of the humour in Jane’s interactions with the chauvinistic men she speaks to for the story. Ellicott looks and acts the part of Murdoch beautifully, stomping around the stage with a permanent glare that is as comedic as it is fearsome.

Campbell Thomson and Warren Chambers deserve special mention for their charm and versatility as reporters, commentators, TV executives and ex All Blacks. But perhaps the stand out performance for me is Richard Huber as All Blacks 1972 tour Manager Ernie Todd, whose cassette tape ‘letters’ home to his wife add emotion and complexity to a story that could too easily have been about a hero and a villain.

The script by Margot McRae offers a nuanced and compelling exploration of celebrity, privacy and how much of our public figures’ lives are public property. I leave hungry for the rest of the story and uncomfortably aware of the impact of that curiosity on the people whose lives are the story.

This lovely little piece of local theatre hits most of the right notes and is well worth a look for anyone who likes stories, mysteries and the game of rugby. 


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