GOLF: A Love Story

Centrepoint, Palmerston North

18/04/2015 - 23/05/2015

Production Details

No matter how badly you play, it’s always possible to get worse.

Despite spending most of his retirement on the golf course, Bill’s days of early mornings, lessons from an over-priced South African, weekly rounds with pompous brother-in-laws, and copious amounts of painkillers are over… because Bill needs a new knee. But before his operation, Bill is determined to break a hundred, something he has never done before, and is not likely to do again.

Even if you’ve never played the game, the world premiere of Roger Hall‘s latest comedy Golf: A Love Story, starring Stuart Devenie, promises a classic night out at the theatre. 

Centrepoint Theatre with support from our Major Funders and Sponsors, and by arrangement with Playmarket, is proud to present the world premiere of GOLF: A LOVE STORY, a brand new comedy by Roger Hall.

We are privileged to be premiering this sure to comedic tour-de-force by New Zealand’s most successful playwright, Roger Hall. Hall’s successful career spans over 4 decades, with highlights including to TV series Pukemanu, Gliding On, Conjugal Rites and Spin Doctors; plays including Middle Age Spread, Four Flat Whites in Italy, A Shortcut to Happiness, musicals such as You Can Always Hand Them Back (premiered by Centrepoint), and multiple awards and titles including QSO and CNZM.

Of GOLF: A LOVE STORY Hall says:

What appealed to me was the one-man confessional type story along the lines of C’Mon Black—someone describing their passions, fears, hopes, despair…and the occasional moment of exhilaration.

I’m not a regular golfer, I play nine holes about once a week in the summer, but even this gives me enough to understand how addictive it is. It is such a challenge, always changing, and usually in lovely surroundings. It’s often said that ‘Golf is a good walk spoiled’. Not true: it’s a good walk made more interesting by having to hit a golf ball along the way…

Of course, I hope it will appeal to golfers. Two very good golfers saw the read-through and really enjoyed it and I said to them I thought they wouldn’t like it because the character is such a bad golfer. ‘Ah,’ they said, ‘but we’ve all been there’. 

But I also hope it will appeal to those who have never played golf. In the end it’s a story about a man late in his life trying to achieve a lifetime ambition. And we’ve all been there, too.

From script to stage…

Tasked with bringing Hall’s one-man comedy to life on the Centrepoint stage is another famous name in New Zealand, Stuart Devenie.

With a career spanning over 3 decades it’s hard not to have heard of Devenie. Film, television, and theatre acting highlights include Shortland Street, Hercules, Jack-of-all-Trades, Mercy Peak, The Pohutukawa Tree, The Talented Mr Ripley, and Peter Jackson’s Braindead

Devenie’s talents lie not only in acting. From 1984-1985 he was the Artistic Director of our very own theatre, and from 1985-1994 he was a senior tutor at Toi Whakaari and Head of Acting at Whangarei Polytechnic, the latter of which saw him direct several groundbreaking productions. 

Devenie has taught numerous workshops for primary and secondary students, and has also served as Consulting Acting Tutor on Shortland Street. Devenie is also one of the top voice-over artists in New Zealand, with lead roles in many radio dramas and voicing top brand campaigns for radio, television and cinema.

Rounding out this trio is our very own Artistic Director, Jeff Kingsford-Brown. No doubt you will be familiar with Jeff’s acting, singing and directing credentials that span three decades of working as a theatre professional in New Zealand and overseas. 

Jeff first worked as a theatre professional at Centrepoint Theatre in 1984, fresh out of drama school, joining the permanent company under the artistic direction of none other than Stuart Devenie. 

Since then Jeff has studied theatre direction in the UK, performed and directed works at The Court, Downstage, Circa, Fortune, BATS, and St James; and was in the cast of the New Zealand tours of The Secret Garden, The Rocky Horror Show, Nutcrackers, and Phantom of the Opera. 

Of GOLF: A LOVE STORY Jeff says:

I love the way Roger exposes the obsessions, hopes and dreams that lie just beneath the surface of our everyday lives. He has such a great eye (and ear) for those quiet, seemingly inconsequential moments – the little tragedies and triumphs that might pass by unnoticed in lesser hands than Roger’s. It’s the small stuff that matters! (Plus, I love the synthesis of sport and theatre – can’t wait for someone to take on the Team New Zealand story!)

Saturday 18th April 2015 and runs until Saturday 23rd May 2015.

Performances run Wednesday 6.30pm; Thursday – Saturday 8pm; Sundays 5pm.
$20 Tuesday show: 14th April 2015 – tickets for this performance on sale Monday 13th April 9am
Please note there is no performance on Sunday 12th April

TICKETS: to book please contact Vanessa Barnes, Box Office Manager & Marketing Assistant on 06 354 5740 or
$38 Adults | $33 Groups of 10+ | $30 Seniors
$30 Under 30’s | $28 Community Service Card Holders
$18 Students | $68 Dinner & Show 

Theatre ,

Genial company with wildly swinging moods

Review by John C Ross 21st Apr 2015

Early on, this play’s solo actor asks the audience, “How many of you have ever actually played golf?” – or words to that effect. For the performance I attended, not many hands go up, and they don’t include mine. Theatre-goer mobs and golfer mobs clearly don’t much overlap.

Roger Hall’s enviable deftness with dialogue enables, with ease and humour, the passing on of bits of needful explanation – such as about what, in practice, ‘par’ amounts to. It also takes a deft actor to carry everything off and Stuart Devenie, in this premiere production, hits the spot with variations in his usual smile, shifting from hopefulness to genuine elation, or wry humour to stress, anxiety, desperation or outright horror. 

One gets the idea that a round of golf can be a drama in eighteen scenes, with each hole potentially happy-ending comedy, farce, tragicomedy or disastrous melodrama. Still, we don’t get eighteen holes-worth of action, maybe ten. 

As for Roger Hall, after his having written about living to a hundred, or not quite, and about grandparenting, his admirers will doubtless have wondered where else there was for him to go. So, now it’s to golf, yet proverbially the course of a true love story can’t be expected to run smooth. “You can be happy or you can play golf.’

For his character Bill Hacker, facing a knee-joint replacement operation the following day, with unpredictable consequences, it matters hugely that this time he’ll get around the course with a score under a hundred. He tells us he knows perfectly well that this is an arbitrary challenge he’s set himself and it shouldn’t matter – “It matters!!” 

He has three invisible companions, each of them better than him, but really he’s playing against the challenges of the course, and Murphy’s Law. It rains for a while, and his ball goes into the trees, a water-trap, and sand-bunkers – but is he doomed? Not yet. 

For this production, the set and the seating are side-on, length-ways, with Peter King’s set comprising mainly an irregularly shaped and contoured raised area to represent the golf-course, with film, mainly of the Palmerston North Golf Course, projected on to screens on the upstage wall. It works impeccably. Talya Pilcher’s lighting design helps, plus some well-timed sound effects as an imaginary ball plops into an imaginary hole.

Bill Hacker is genial company, with a fondness for sharing jokes. Weget to share in his wildly swinging moods, his distress when things go badly and joy when they go well. It’s marvellous that Roger Hall has not lost his flair; and neither has Stuart Devenie.


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