BATS Theatre, Wellington

11/09/2007 - 15/09/2007

Dance Your Socks Off

Production Details

Devised by Dean Hewison, Ben Powdrell & Allan Henry
Directed by Dean Hewison

Fight Choreography / Direction by Allan Henry
Produced by Dean Hewison and Ben Powdrell
Assistant Producer: Eleanor Bishop

Lighting Design / Operation: Debbie McGuire
Sound Design / Operation: Emile de la Ray
Music: Emile de la Ray


The dying minutes of a football game. No goals scored. The crowd on its feet. You could cut the tension with a knife… Or a broken bottle, like the one you’re holding in your fist…

Out of Bounds, the team behind Fringe 07’s smash hit Brain Power brings you FootBallistic – a stage combat epic set during a football riot and cleverly smuggled into the Dance Your Socks Off Festival to satisfy your dance-bloodlust.

Featuring elaborate ‘dance’ sequences such as an angry mob of fans taking on a referee and a mascot, the catfight to end all catfights, the emotional struggle of a guy fighting his way through several louts without spilling his beers, and the frustrated first-aid workers who reach breaking point and kick some hooligan ass. 

FootBallistic is an hour of choreographed madness like nothing you’ve ever seen, featuring fight choreography by experienced Stage Combat tutor Allan Henry (Othello, The Henchman) and the live sound effects and musical styling’s of Emile de la Rey (A Bright Room Called Day).

Check out the FootBallistic trailer here:

11 -15 Sep
t, 7.00pm
BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce
Booking: 802 4175
$16 / 12 / 10 season pass  

Allan Henry . . . . . . . Referee, Zebz Member, First Aid Worker
Dean Hewison . . . . . Hooligan 1, 6, 10, 13; Zebz Member, Goro
Ben Powdrell . . . . . . Hooligan 2, 7, 11, 14; Zebz Member, Goro
Patrick Powdrell . . . Hooligan 3, 8, 12, Zebz Member, Goro
David Hoskins . . . . . Hooligan 4, 9, Mickey
Fraser McLeod . . . . . Mascot, The Bear
Martyn Wood . . . . . . Hooligan 5, Drinks Guy, First Aid Worker
Alix Bushnell . . . . . . Evil Bitch
Jodie Hillock . . . . . . Girlfriend, SWAT Team Member
Leon Wadham . . . . . Commentator, Aussie Guy
Richard Falkner (Tu/W/F) /
 Jamie McCaskill (Th/S) . . . Commentator, Punched Guy, SWAT Team Member
Voices . . . . . . . . . . Paul Yates, Dean Hewison, Ben Powdrell, Leon Wadham


Stage Manager: Theresa Hanaray
Props Construction: Ben Powdrell, David Hoskins
Costume Construction: Cara Louise
Bottle Construction: Emma Zivkovic, The Lab at 39a
Design: Graeme Offord
Publicity: Brianne Kerr
Photography: Robin Kerr

Theatre ,

55 mins, no interval

Fun to watch, even for a pacifist

Review by Kate Blackhurst 13th Sep 2007

The smell of beer and sweat gave an authentic backdrop to the opening night of Footballistic at Bats, as the cast threw themselves around with energy and timing that would be the envy of many a sports team. The basic premise is that it is a riot during a football match. Other than the very funny – and far more explicit than the BBC would ever permit – commentators, and a strange giant football outfit, the show had very little to do with the beautiful game itself, but was simply an hour of expertly choreographed and frequently humorous fight scenes.

From a bloke trying to wade through a confrontation without spilling a drop of his drink, to a section in which a couple of stretcher bearers give a whole new meaning to pole dancing, the choreography is powerful and original. A three headed monster fighting a video game with puppet legs was a highlight – who needs CGI when you’ve got artistic direction? The girl fighting sequence involves lots of screaming, hair pulling and eye gouging, with a pause to put in a contact lens. The stripping off and suggestion of jelly wrestling threatens to become a hackneyed macho fantasy until a brilliant twist turns the ensuing synchronised moves into one of the highlights of the show.

The fight scenes are up close and personal – a note of caution; if you are in the front row, you are literally inches away from the action – but even with blood and broken bottles in the final conflict, they are never sickening. The slow motion interludes imply real pain, with a broken wrist and kneecap among the most horrific of injuries, but they are rapidly interrupted by humour. There are perhaps one or two fight scenes too many, with the latter sequences offering nothing new, but the enthusiastic opening night audience were full of cheers and vocal support – proof positive that we do support the underdog.

The sound affects are excellent and the music is mostly effective as it surges and pulses beneath the punch-ups with aggression and adrenalin. The 1812 Overture, nowadays more commonly heard as a backdrop to fireworks, gets an explosive new treatment here. The simple lighting is also used to great effect as angular shapes thrown against the walls occasionally pick out a spotlight image. The team refute that they are glamorising violence, and in a tetchy Question and Answer session which goes hilariously wrong, they stress that violence is never the answer, although they won’t go so far as to deny that it’s cool. The ironic peace symbol is met with significant laughter.

The Out of Bounds company claim in the programme notes that they wanted to write a play that involved a whole lot of fighting, before deciding to use choreography and become “totally legitimate members of the dance community”. They have succeeded with this mix of Trainspotting and Kill Bill with a hint of Monty Python, which is indeed a show unlike anything you have seen at the Dance Your Socks Off festival before. It is clear that they had fun making it – it is fun to watch, even for a confirmed pacifist.

Originally published in The Lumière Reader.


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It's a riot

Review by John Smythe 11th Sep 2007

Coming to a Tui billboard near you: "We are not trying to glamorise violence" – Yeah, right.

To be fair, it’s the illusion of violence that Footballistic trades on, and when it’s live on stage that’s a whole lot more impressive than big – or even little – screen fight sequences with all their post-production enhancements. These guys (9m, 2f) put their faith in each other and themselves on the line before our very eyes, so it really is their skill in not hurting each other that has us whooping with delight.

We must take it as a compliment that the culture of sports-fan hooliganism is not rife in NZ so English football has to be the context for the scenarios. Emile de la Ray’s sound design, which includes recorded voice, runs the gamut from crunch sfx through music he has made himself to the 1812 Overture. Debbie McGuire’s lighting packs a punch too when it has to.

But it’s the physical action that captures the imagination mostly. Allan Henry’s choreography has him, and some others, literally climbing the walls and back-flipping off them at times, as the scenarios devised by himself, Dean Hewison and Ben Powdrell play out.

The big game finishes – superbly suggested in silhouette – and the Ref (Henry) is waylaid by Hooligans out of left field, first the Green mob then the Red mob: Ben Powdrell, David Hoskins, Dean Hewison, Martyn Wood and Patrick Powdrell … A smiley-face soccer ball Mascot (Fraser McLeod) gets caught in the melee and becomes the Ref’s ally … They mix it like a well oiled machine while, in the best moments, making it look spontaneous and meant.  

A guy getting drinks (Wood) has to fend off attackers and – lest we get too complacent with knowing who is a goody and who is a baddy – take mean steps to ensure he finally does have drinks to take back to the stand.

Two women, listed in the programme as Evil Bitch (Alix Bushnell) and Girlfriend (Jodie Hillock) get into a tall v short catfight involving rips, strips and even splits but when slavering boys drag in a paddling pool, hoping for jelly wrestling, the girls are united in dealing to them.

Three guys manifest a Robotic Transformer while others combine to make a puppet-legged martial artist take comical flight ninja-style. With cheerleaders’ streamer balls the weapon of choice, the loser in this encounter ends up literally spineless.

The chat-with-the-audience interlude that brings the claim "We are not trying to glamorise violence" reveals underlying tensions that escalate wittily into satirical jibes and more wacky histrionics.

A football hooligan’s rite of passage is played out by the diminutive David Hoskins in a sequence that sees corner flags and stretcher poles used to devastating effect. With Fraser McLeod as the big guy, a David v Goliath syndrome emerges that again challenges our allegiances.  

Even the commentators – Leon Wadham and Richard Falkner (except it’s Jamie McCaskill on Thursday & Saturday) – get into a physical scrap.

When the story content comes to the fore, giving context and meaning to the action, the sense of sameness or variations on the same theme fades in favour of an idea we can relate to. While there were no mishaps on opening night and everyone was clearly up to speed, I imagine the ensemble will move on even more from merely displaying technique, as the short season evolves.

The big finale reprises the first scene with the 1812, smashable props and the red jelly … Yum. You have to be there. Really. It’s a riot.


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