HUDSON & HALLS LIVE!

Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

17/11/2016 - 10/12/2016

Lake Wanaka Centre, Wanaka

09/04/2017 - 10/04/2017

Theatre Royal, TSB Showplace, New Plymouth

17/08/2017 - 20/08/2017

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland LIVE, Auckland

05/11/2015 - 05/12/2015

Turner Centre, 43 Cobham Road, Kerikeri

04/04/2017 - 05/04/2017

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

18/11/2017 - 16/12/2017

The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

06/09/2017 - 14/10/2017

Festival of Colour 2017

Taranaki Arts Festival 2017

CHRISTCHURCH ARTS FESTIVAL 2017

UPSURGE Bay of Islands Festival 2017

Production Details



BEFORE MASTERCHEF THERE WAS HUDSON AND HALLS  

And we’re live! The oven’s caught fire, David is drinking and Peter has bad news. In a mid-eighties television studio, two of New Zealand’s most authentic stars are about to cook the most important meal of their lives. It’s the Christmas special and they’re up to their eyeballs in turkey stuffing and melting cream castles.

Spend a glorious night in the 1980s when Silo Theatre rolls out its final production for 2015: the premiere of HUDSON & HALLS LIVE! at Auckland Live’s Herald Theatre from November 5 – December 5. You’ll get a glimpse into the remarkable journey and outrageous behaviour of Peter Hudson and David Halls – two iconic TV personalities and New Zealand’s original great gay love story. 

Commissioned by Silo Theatre and co-created by theatrical daredevil Kip Chapman, this immersive new work explores the extraordinary partnership of New Zealand’s beloved TV chefs. Inspired by their life and career together, it’s full of complex contradictions, rum fuelled showdowns, and some very questionable cooking. This hilarious and charismatic duo is well overdue to have their story told.

‘I never knew Hudson & Halls but I grew up in a world they were fighting against. The world of dullness, conservatism, order, politeness and tradition. They were a thunderbolt of life beaming into every living room in the country – brazenly exposing their whole selves to a public completely unused to big personalities’ – says Chapman.

In the spirit of the men themselves, Chapman has created a theatrical experience outside of the norm. Audiences will arrive at the theatre to find themselves transported to a 1980s TVNZ studio, cast for the night as the live studio audience. This production is all about extending the audience experience beyond the walls of the black box to create a truly memorable night out immersed chaos, decadence and love.

Silo has not presented a world premiere of its own commission since 2008 so this production is an incredibly special milestone – one that draws on a highly talented group of practitioners to create a show that is sure to tour nationally after this premiere season.

Director and co-writer Kip Chapman is a powerhouse of ingenuity and productivity who has created some exceptional theatre with immersion and a sense of fun at its heart. His most successful work to date – APOLLO 13: MISSION CONTROL – has toured extensively nationally and internationally to great acclaim.

Actors Todd Emerson, Chris Parker and Jackie van Beek, who have all been involved in the writing and development of this new play, bring skills to the work that Chapman says ‘would have been incredibly hard to stage without.’

Playing Peter Hudson, Todd Emerson has been working as a professional actor on stage and screen in New Zealand for the last twenty years. Todd’s recent theatrical credits include THE BRAVE and the breakout Kiwi musical DAFFODILS. He is currently shooting the second season of TV3’s WESTSIDE. Remarkably, Todd is also a trained chef.

Chris Parker has been described as the next big thing in New Zealand comedy and will complete the duo as David Halls. Chris is a core cast member of the weekly improv comedy night SNORT at The Basement and has recently been writing and performing for TV3’s JONO AND BENand the soon to premiere FUNNY GIRLS.

Jackie van Beek rounds out the cast as Ngaire – the TV show’s slightly-out-of-her-depth floor manager. When the live telecast nears disaster, Ngaire is left calling the shots. Jackie is a comedic powerhouse who has appeared on New Zealand stage and screen for over fifteen years. She recently won a 2014 NZ Film Award for her role in WHAT WE DO IN THE SHADOWS and completed filming THE INLAND ROAD, her first feature film as a writer and a director.

Transforming Herald Theatre into a 1980s TVNZ studio is no easy feat, but it’s in the extremely capable and creative hands of designers Daniel Williams (SUNDAY ROAST), Elizabeth Whiting (ANGELS IN AMERICA) and Sean Lynch (THE BOOK OF EVERYTHING).

HUDSON & HALLS LIVE!:
5 November – 5 December 2015 
Herald Theatre, Auckland Live

For more information and bookings, visit silotheatre.co.nz 

2015’s sold-out premiere season in Auckland left audiences in stitches and coming back for more. Prepare to be transported to a 1980s television studio for big laughs, rum-fuelled showdowns and very questionable cooking.

This play is so funny you could die of it … Theatre rarely gets much better than this. – METRO MAGAZINE

HUDSON & HALLS LIVE!
NOV 16 – DEC 10 2016
HANNAH PLAYHOUSE, Wellington 

UPSURGE Bay of Islands Festival 2017

The Turner Centre, Kerikeri
Tuesday 4 April, 7.30 pm
Wednesday 5 April, 7.30 pm
EARLY $42 – FULL $48
plus service fee
BOOK NOW

FESTIVAL OF COLOUR 2017 

Lake Wanaka Centre 
Sunday 9 April, 7.00pm
Monday 10 April, 7.00pm 
TICKETS
$45 standard seating and $55 tiered seating 

TARANAKI ARTS FESTIVAL 2017

Theatre Royal, TSB Showplace
Thurs Aug 17 – Sun Aug 20
7pm
BOOK  

Christchurch Arts Festival Season: 6 – 16 Sept 2017  
The Court Theatre
Wed 06 Sep – Fri 08 Sep, 8:30pm
Sat 09 Sep, 2:00pm
Sat 09 Sep, 8:30pm
TICKETS*
Mon — Thu $59:  Sen $52 / Under 25 $40
Fri & Sat $62 / Sen $55
Under 25 $43 
Group pricing available 
*Fees & conditions apply, see How to Book.

The Court Theatre Season: 18 Sept – 14 Oct 2017 

Fortune Theatre, 231 Stuart Street, Dunedin
18 November – 16 December, 2017
Performances: Tuesday, 6.00pm; Wednesday-Saturday, 7.30pm; Sunday, 4.00pm  
Opening Night: Saturday, 18 November, 7.30pm, Fortune Theatre.
Forum: Tuesday, 21 November. Join the cast and crew for an open question and answer session following the 6.00pm show.
Tickets: Adults $45 | Concession $35 | Fortune Theatre Members $32
Tertiary Students $20 (2-for-1 tickets on Wednesdays with ID)
High School Students $17.50 | Group Discount (6+) $35 
Bookings: 231 Stuart Street, Dunedin | 03 4778323 | fortunetheatre.co.nz | @fortunetheatre 
https://fortunetheatre.co.nz/play/hudson-halls-live/  


Cast 2015:
Chris Parker – David Halls
Todd Emerson – Peter Hudson
Jackie van Beek – Ngaire Watkins
Stuart Phillips – Mr Lynch 

Cast 2016/17: 
Chris Parker – David Halls 
Kip Chapman or Todd Emerson – Peter Hudson 
Anya Tate-Manning – Ngaire Watkins 
??? – Mr Lynch 

Creatives:

Director – Kip Chapman
Set Design – Dan Williams
Lighting Design – Sean Lynch / Jennifer Lal
Costume Design – Elizabeth Whiting
Props Master – Laura Marsh 



Theatre ,


1 hour 40 minutes, incl. interval

Comedy great Christmas fare

Review by Barbara Frame 21st Nov 2017

The set isn’t just a set. It tells us, the audience, that we are on a set – specifically, the set of Hudson and Halls, the television show that entertained New Zealanders from 1975 to 1986 – and that we are expected to applaud on cue.

While Peter Hudson (Kip Chapman) does most of the actual work of the extra-special Christmas dinner, David Halls (Chris Parker) plays shamelessly to the camera, preens, struts and does most of the drinking. [More]  

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Utterly captivating

Review by Terry MacTavish 20th Nov 2017

For two long years Dunedin has salivated in anticipation of the lashings of cream and cheese that are Hudson and Halls, so Christmas blessings to the Fortune for its timely hosting of a luscious feast that is sure to satisfy everyone. The reputation of Kip Chapman’s fabulous play about the ultra-camp celebrity chefs of the seventies and eighties is now nearly as well established as that of the famous duo itself, and there simply could not be a better choice for the traditional end-of-working-year parties. 

David Halls from a working class family in England and Peter Hudson from a mysteriously posh home in Melbourne somehow found each other in New Zealand, and quite quickly became household names. Their thirty-year love affair provided the on-screen chemistry that proved irresistible to repressed Kiwis in a country where homosexual activity was illegal. They were adored, and by 1981 voted Entertainers of the Year.

Clever Chapman and his team have cast us as the television studio audience for the Hudson and Halls Christmas Special, thus creating mirth and mayhem while allowing us a glimpse of the deep love beneath their bickering banter. Third wheel is the studio’s floor manager, Ngaire Watkins, who is trying to maintain control while assuring us with increasing desperation that all will be ‘fantastic’. This device is not exactly new, of course, but it works a treat, as we buy into the nervous tension and feel in-the-know and invested in the success of the cooking show. 

My guest, selected partly for her culinary know-how – she teaches cooking – assures me that although the knife skills could use a little polish, the cooking is authentic and the recipes actually work. She is loving the show, giving reminiscent chuckles at the cardboard wine cask and appliances like the electric bread knife, and gasping as some appalling solecism is committed. The playwright has obviously paid close attention to the recordings of the actual shows, and hardly needs to exaggerate – in one of the original episodes Hudson is flapping a burning cloth while Halls, roaring with laughter, breaks spontaneously into, ‘I don’t want to set the world on fire’.

Absolutely everything that can go wrong does, with riotous results: disasters to the ingredients, the set, the costumes and, alarmingly, the oven.  There is even a dramatic power cut, though I swear I can still see David’s amazing teeth gleaming. Meanwhile, with the play structured into the four segments of the TV show, each quarter ends with a bombshell that must be dealt with during the frenetic ad-break. This makes for gloriously funny theatre, incredibly challenging for the actors who must time their dialogue to complicated stage business, including actually cooking the dinner, but the audience is enraptured.

It is as interesting for reviewers as for aspiring chefs to see familiar ingredients in new dishes, and having reviewed all three actors in other roles I am curious. Kip Chapman (who has taken over the role of Peter Hudson for the tour) was tautly menacing in the Fortune’s transcendent production of The Caretaker, and Chris Parker impressed me with his powerful and utterly dark monologue describing a horrific racist attack in Two Fish ’N’ a Scoop. How credible will they be as such recognisable light-entertainment figures as the gay and blithe Hudson and Halls? Yet transform they do, superbly.

Chapman as sleek-haired, bespectacled Peter Hudson is naturally the leader, organised and hard-working, while Parker, playing a gorgeously silver-coiffed David Halls, tipples continuously and naughtily undermines his partner’s authority at every opportunity. Both actors give supremely polished interpretations individually, and bounce off each other as brilliantly as the originals did, in apparently spontaneous dialogue that is alternately funny and touching. Hudson’s fussiness and Halls’ flamboyance are perfectly realised, the tenderness beneath the sparring is moving, and the performances are as fresh as if it was the premiere. 

As Ngaire the frantic floor manager, Anya Tate-Manning, last seen ad-libbing wickedly in Puppet Fiction, struggles hilariously to manipulate these particular prima donnas. She manages the audience beautifully too, explaining what is expected of us with a mixture of authority and modest charm, endearing herself to us so that we really relish Ngaire’s moment in the spotlight. She certainly earns it, crawling below the kitchen bench flapping cue-cards and dealing with a succession of disasters and nervous breakdowns. It is a delightful performance from Tate-Manning, a necessary balance to the fiery relationship of the celebrity chefs, and so convincing that on entering I assumed she was the stage manager and asked for her help with a seat mix-up. She fixed it, too. 

Charming also to see regular Fortune stage manager Anna van den Bosch, doubtless getting her own back, in a priceless deadpan performance as the long-suffering techie who could not be less dazzled by the glamour of the TV studio, stomping right through the audience to reach the lighting box, and deftly hand-operating every theatre effect from dry ice to electric fan for the unexpected Guest Star. 

The Star’s costume provides an amusing opportunity for designer Elizabeth Whiting, who is presumably responsible for the ushers’ cute baby blue waistcoats as well as the chefs’ black bow ties and red aprons. The set designed by Daniel Williams, with central kitchen flanked by dining room and tiny red-curtained revolving stage with mirror ball for the celebrity spot, is impressively detailed for a touring production. I guess that’s authentic too, as the pair were very particular about their studio sets, insisting they reflect their own unique personalities.

Friends have said David and Peter loved to please people, and that their hospitality was incredible – you always walked out feeling you’d had not just a good time, but a fabulous time. It is this that Chapman has captured so perfectly and that makes the evening such a joyous experience. We all feel genuinely welcome, from the sentimental older ladies beside me, typical of the innocent fan base of the originals, to the savvy youngsters behind me, chortling over the rivalry and acts of random sabotage. Our awareness of what the future holds for the pair adds poignancy but does not detract from the sheer rollicking fun. 

The Fortune may well feel smug over the apt timing of Hudson and Halls, although when even Peter’s fellow Australians have finally shouted yes to rainbow love, one yearns for a magic wand to whisk the partners into a happier, more tolerant time, were it not blindingly clear that New Zealand in the eighties really needed them!  As does Xmas 2017, come to think of it.

After a pretty freaky year, this utterly captivating romantic comedy is as welcome as rich brandy butter. 

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An evening of grand fun

Review by Lindsay Clark 07th Sep 2017

On tour after highly successful seasons in Auckland and Wellington, this recreation of the much loved cooking show from the nineteen eighties dishes up a completely different bill of fare from the MasterChef variety we might associate with contemporary versions of cooking for an audience.

It presents the idiosyncratic duo Peter Hudson and David Halls in their live telecast of a Christmas Special, with studio audience, floor manager and attendant lighting bloke, so that we see all the scurry between ad breaks and all the panicky moments we could expect when two ambitious cooks undertake a complicated series of dishes in a confined space.

Not only that, but their wildly differing personalities and approaches to practical matters set the scene for hilarity of the highest order. The real Hudson and Halls were a devoted gay couple at a time when same sex partnerships were still not openly accepted, but the tender concern each holds for the other is delicately woven into the show, adding a touch of humanity to what is generally cast as a riot of banter and hectic culinary application. 

Chris Parker is the voluble, high camp show-off David Halls, bursting with energy and bonhomie, tippling at every opportunity and given to tempestuous sulks. As a brilliant foil, Todd Emerson’s Peter Hudson is precise and methodical, bitchy when it suits and maintaining an air of assurance which, when punctured in the course of the mayhem, provides some telling moments. Both actors are so convincing in their stage personae that it is hard to believe that these are lines, and rehearsals took place.

They are joined and supported by Anya Tate-Manning as the highly challenged floor manager, Ngaire, whose roles involve business no floor manager should have to carry out. All is seen to with cheerful efficiency.

As a mock-up of an eighties recording studio, and given the extra complications of a touring production, Daniel Williams’ set is generously detailed, with guest spot side-stage and a Christmas table, as well as the fully functioning kitchen, cluttered with things some of us can remember as the real thing. Elizabeth Whiting’s costume design is similarly apt and in the impromptu guest spot provides an entertaining moment of its own, thanks to the initiative of Mr Lynch, the all-purpose lighting tech, not credited in the programme.

All up it makes for an evening of grand fun, where clever writing and spirited characters create a very satisfying session with two unforgettable cooks.

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Hilarious and heart warming

Review by Jo Hills 18th Aug 2017

When it comes to fans Hudson and Halls seem to be timeless with a new group of enthusiasts delighting in their antics.

After being thoroughly entertained at the Hudson & Halls Live! show one young theatre goer declared: “You don’t have to be an old person to enjoy it. It’s hilarious, so believable and heart warming. It didn’t  matter at all that I didn’t know anything about them before.”

That’s high praise from someone not even conceived back in the days of 1975 to 1986 when the gay duo of Hudson and Halls graced our New Zealand television screens. [More

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A fitting Festival appetiser

Review by Lisa Simpson 18th Aug 2017

The Taranaki Arts Festival opened to a crowd ready to get their teeth into a heart-warming mid-winter Christmas dinner à la Hudson and Halls.

The premise of the production is that we are the live studio audience for a Hudson and Halls Christmas Special. The house lights remain up as a much put-upon and praiseworthy floor manager, Ngaire (Anya Tate-Manning), warms us up and assures us that the evening will be “fantastic” – a promise that wears thinner and thinner with every technical hitch, argument and culinary mishap.  

And it is fantastic. To create a play from an episode of a cooking show requires more than just the pressure of having to prepare a dish within a set time limit that is the staple ingredient of reality television cooking shows; theatre requires characters we are invested in, subtleties of relationship, subtext, conflict and a journey.

From their first moments on stage Todd Emerson (Peter Hudson) and Chris Parker (David Halls) deliver credible, funny, flawed people. Emerson’s Hudson is initially calm and focussed on the job to be done: to produce the ultimate ’80s entertainers’ Christmas Dinner (complete with turkey, hot salads and Spanish-style peas with ham). His crisp elocution and warm voice captures the essence of what I remembered of Hudson and has me sold. A highlight is the masterful silent conversation where Hudson tames the ebullient Halls and has him removing his Picasso themed jacket like a naughty school boy. This moment speaks volumes about their relationship on and off screen and the dynamic between the actors is delightful.

Parkers’ Halls could have easily been overdone and become wearisome. Instead, Parker has me wanting to take a glass and join Halls’ rebellious camera-stealing Hudson-defying antics. The dialogue is witty and well delivered as the two chefs turn disasters into culinary innovation, such as the deglazing of a pan of stuck giblets with a Peach Bellini. Horrifying and delicious.

A running joke is stoic technician Miss Lynch, who enjoys the freedom of a pre-Health and Safety in the Workplace Act era to insulation-tape power cords to floors, adjust theatre lights with a broom and generally take her time meeting the exacting demands of sound and lighting for live television. Her hands-on special effects in the obligatory ‘musical number by a special guest star’ are inspired and possibly not too far off the mark.

The audience enjoys the 80s references made with a light touch throughout the show: the vintage kitchen appliances (that are now being reproduced new in kitchen shops nation-wide), a set decorated with red velvet curtains, a ceramic tribute to Opo the Dolphin and a splash of wine from a cardboard cask.

The brilliance of the banter and slapstick cookery – the sexual innuendo, the food processer sluiced with stock, the turkey basted with a fire extinguisher – are undercut by shocking news … the reality of which makes this Christmas episode poignant; the bitter balancing the sweet.

The only off note for me is the announcement by Ngaire at the beginning of the show that the pair will die 14 months apart 7 years in the future. While it adds a resonance to the fun and laughter, it perhaps underlines playwright and director Kip Chapman’s purpose in creating this work. If these two television icons were better known and remembered, we would have felt this resonance without needing to be told.

All in all, this show was thoroughly enjoyed by the audience and is a fitting appetiser for the rest of the Festival to come. 

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Saucy, decadent and delicious

Review by Joanna Page 05th Apr 2017

While the rest of the nation settled in at 7:30pm to watch two teams battle it out in a Sudden Death episode of MKR, in Kerikeri food TV went back to where it all began: live TV of the 1980s when there were two channels and Julia Child was the Queen of home cookery. Or was she?

Co-created by Todd Emerson, Sophie Roberts and director Kip Chapman, Hudson and Halls Live first hit the stage in 2015 as a Silo Theatre initiative. This year it’s going on tour with most of the original cast (Jackie van Beek’s character, floor manager Ngaire Watkins, is played by Anya Tate-Manning).

The play is set in the television studio, complete with studio audience (us), as Peter Hudson (Todd Emerson), David Halls (Chris Parker) and Ngaire Watkins gear up for and then go live with the broadcast of the Hudson and Halls’ Christmas Special. As the stars point out, anything can happen with live telly – and it certainly does. However, unlike today’s cooking competition programmes where the drama unfolds for the camera, in Hudson and Halls Live the real drama happens when the cameras aren’t rolling.

I’ll be honest: I remember very little of Peter Hudson and David Halls’ cooking programme but I do remember that it was a very big deal; their recipes were in Woman’s Weekly after all. And I do remember the gents. So too does the wary Kerikeri audience. Given that the youngest people in the theatre are the cast members, you can sense Peter and David’s fans relaxing as the performance progresses. Emerson and Parker nail the mannerisms and speech traits skilfully, whereas in other hands it could easily turn into parody. 

The set, costumes and lighting (designed by Daniel Williams, Elizabeth Whiting and Sean Lynch) perfectly season the performance. The brilliantly cringe-worthy old-school Tupperware, Château Cardboard, plastic stacking cups with handles, Picasso silk bomber jackets, bright green layered dresses with puffed sleeves, tinsel, a tribute to Opo, state-of-the-art-for-the-time crouton-cutting electric knives, and a $2 Shop’s entire stock of tinsel take you straight to December 1983. 

The script has the potential to be cheesy or hammed up in the wrong hands, yet this production treats it as it was intended: a loving tribute to two Kiwi men who were welcomed into the homes of New Zealanders every week, at a time when it was not considered okay for two men to be a couple. 

The writing is tight, light, poignant and often hilarious. It’s raucous and fast-paced and relies on Emerson, Parker and Tate-Manning and the mysterious Ms Lynch (apologies for the lack of credit – there was no information available) to get the timing and delivery spot on, which they do. As a result the contrasting moments of complete silence are the loudest of all, leaving the audience as deflated as a flat soufflé. 

Peter and David’s relationship is at the heart of this work and the leads play them so masterfully I can’t imagine anyone else in the roles. During the interval Halls joins the audience in the bar for cheeky drink, or twelve. Parker doesn’t break character and demonstrates a standard of improvisation seldom seen.

No show is perfect. Saucy, decadent and delicious, this simmers with colour, flavour, tension and a brilliant vocal performance from Ngaire Watkins. The flaw is that it ends far too soon. Not suddenly, just soon. I leave wanting seconds. 

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Pathos aplenty to enrich the quality comedy

Review by John Smythe 18th Nov 2016

Celebrity chefs Peter Hudson and David Halls graced our funny old cathode tube television sets, on what was known as ‘the other side’ (TV2) from 1975 till 1986. And we know this “live for the first time!” Christmas show is 1986 because the Rainbow Warrior bombing has happened.

It was also the year the Homosexual Law Reform Act was passed after stormy debates in the House, the media, in public and in homes. Not that Hudson & Halls Live! mentions that, as such. But I like to think their lively presence in the nation’s living rooms did a lot to reassure the general populous there was nothing to fear in two men loving each other.

Those were the days when being flamboyantly gay was a thing, an “Up ya bum!” gesture to a dull and repressive society. Then came a time when gay characters played camp was outlawed by militant gays as ‘stereotyping’ (witness the outrage in such circles at Jon Inman’s portrayal in Are You Being Served). So it’s good to see a new generation reclaiming and celebrating all that in performance.

Writer/director Kip Chapman was six, I believe, when this play is set and the originating actors – Todd Emerson, Chris Parker and Jackie van Beek – weren’t even born. Nor was Anya Tate-Manning, who takes over the role of Floor Manager Ngaire Watkins from Jackie. And we in Wellington get Kip playing Hudson (because Todd is shooting another series of Westside – don’t you love industry intel?).

Thanks to NZ On Screen they have been able to study their subjects ‘on set’ and glean more from a 2001 documentary: Hudson and Halls: A Love Story. In the Hannah Playhouse bar, Anya’s Ngaire Watkins reminds us of earthquake protocol, orientates us to our ‘studio audience’ role and flashes us forward 16 years to the sad end of the couple’s story (see the doco for that). This judicious move impregnates the show that follows with a poignant subtext.

Daniel Williams’ wonderfully detailed studio kitchen set is replete with kitsch trimmings including a fondly regarded ‘Opo’ ornament. All kitchenware and electronic devices are true to the era. Lighting designer/operator Jennifer Lal role plays the comically po-faced studio techie, quaintly called “Ms Lynch” by the stars, splendidly counterpointing the foregrounded flamboyance.

It’s Chris Parker’s David Halls (immigrant shoe designer who hails from working class Epping, UK) who ticks the high camp box, tippling all manner of libations as they magic up a Christmas feast, it’s a wonder he doesn’t topple. His flair with ad-lib quipping through any mishap is so convincing it’s tempting to think they’re for real.

With equal authenticity Kip Chapman captures Peter Hudson’s more anxious and meticulous nature – almost the straight man (if one may say that) to Hall’s extrovert. And all the while Anya Tate-Manning’s Ngaire Watkins is trying to manage the increasing chaos from the floor – literally, much of the time.

It’s during the first commercial break that she lets slip a verbal bombshell which ramps up the subtext quotient considerably. No spoilers here; suffice to say we get to see what a ‘drama queen’ Halls can be, over something much less serious than what we know has really happened. And the joy of it is that it’s played out so well we cannot help but sympathise.

Then there’s the power failure and the consequent crisis over the special guest. Again I won’t give the show away, except to say Tina Cross’s ‘Nothing But Dreams’ gets a surprisingly good airing – as does the frock of its singer. (I am reminded of the Australian radio jock who opined that “Tina Cross sounds like a clue in a New Zealand crossword puzzle.” But I digress.)

The audience participation is well-judged and non-threatening. On the surface Hudson & Halls Live! may seem like lightweight festive season fare but this Silo theatre team ensures it is well rooted in humanity with pathos aplenty to enrich the quality comedy. It’s an ideal show for corporate bookings and workplace team treats. 

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Editor November 24th, 2016

Here is the link to John Smythe's chat about HUDSON & HALLS LIVE with Jesse Mulligan on RNZ: http://www.radionz.co.nz/national/programmes/afternoons/audio/201825177/theatre-critic-john-smythe

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Pair whip up comedy gold

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 09th Nov 2015

Like a glittering swirl of praline crumbs cascading over the sponge-finger walls of a creme brulee castle, Hudson and Halls are back with a scrumptiously over-the-top display of outrageous showmanship and culinary mayhem.

Writer/director Kip Chapman immerses the audience in an imaginative recreation of a 1980s TV studio with meticulous attention to detail and a nostalgic affection for the exuberant hedonism of the era.

The script, bristling with hilarious one-liners, name-checks everything from the Rainbow Warrior to Keri Hulme’s Booker award and Daniel Williams’ set design pays homage to Hudson & Halls’ camp aesthetic with an amusing array of ornaments that includes a ceramic tribute to Opo the dolphin. [More

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A Simple Dish

Review by Matt Baker 09th Nov 2015

Before the plethora of cooking shows both at home and overseas, there was Peter Hudson and David Halls. Commissioned by Silo Theatre, Hudson & Halls Live! is the fictional account of New Zealand’s best cooking duo, two men whose love of cooking, entertaining, laughing, living, and most importantly, each other, introduced an entire nation to the idea of accepting their own foibles, and humanity.

Todd Emerson gives an incredibly understated and resonant performance; with nothing more than a moment of sustained silence, a grimaced smile, or a glare of the eyes over his glasses, we see the moments of worry and pain that underlies the straight man in this comedic duo. Chris Parker is perfectly-cast as the Corbett to Emerson’s Barker, but it is his moments of quiet and restraint that truly punctuate the comedy. [More

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Wild, joyous, booze-fuelled romp may also prompt a tear or two

Review by Jan-Maree Franicevic 07th Nov 2015

This is the portrayal of a fine romance, of volatility that most of us would walk away from, of a love that is so deep and complex that is can only be one kind: the true kind.

My dear friend Frances and I are on a gal’s night out in Auckland, and very excited to be at the Herald Theatre to see the last Silo Theatre production for 2015. The foyer is dressed up with giant images of 80s television stars and instantly I am taken back to the TVNZ foyer of the era. I ask Frances if she will take a picture of me wedged between portraits of Danny Watson and Angela D’Audney. Heaven!  

Jackie Van Beek plays floor manager Ngaire Watkins. With a loud wolf whistle, she is on a chair yelling the first of many audience directions at us. It’s brilliantly funny watching her barking away… Throughout the show she is consistently excellent. Ngaire is tightly coiled and yappy, without tripping over the line (this could easily have turned to slapstick).

We enter the theatre, transformed into a television studio, and it is AMAZING! I am completely transported back to Avalon Studios in Lower Hutt, walking down to my seat towards the brightly lit stage, tape everywhere! Cue cards and false walls, potted plants, booze bottles and a china dolphin. There is a Christmas tree and the table is set. The marvellous design package by Daniel Williams (set), Elizabeth Whiting (costumes) and Sean Lynch (lighting).

It’s the live recording of the Hudson and Halls Christmas Special, with a very special guest, and a very, very special menu.

I need to tell you straight up that I love Hudson and Halls. I have all of their cookbooks and when I perform my ‘Eat Me’ cooking shows or segments, I always wear my Hudson and Halls Dedication Apron which depicts a black floppy bowtie, a white shirt, cummerbund and red half-pinny. Hudson and Halls taught me that you can never have too many wooden spoons, nor too much butter: things I believe are essential kitchen lore; lore that I live by to this day.

I am excited and nervous as the live recording begins because I just want this show to be really good. It is.

Immediately captivating and charismatic Hudson (Todd Emerson) and Halls (Chris Parker) take me in-hand and I gladly I disappear back down the time tunnel to 1985. In an instant I am 12 years old, at that recording, gaping in wondrous admiration at the two fellas I watch on telly in the lounge with my folks… It is them. They’re in the flesh!

I kid you not, that’s what it feels like.

Emerson and Parker breathe life into two long-departed television-cooking heroes. There is unflagging energy and fluidity; they portray the couple’s dynamism easily and well. There is mastery to portraying this much chaos without screwing it up; they keep their carriage steady through the show.

If this show was ballsed-up even a little bit, Silo would have a disaster on their hands, but I think they are sitting on a hit, fair and square. 

At intermission we watch Halls stalking around the foyer, chatting to audience members, drinking (there is a lot of drinking) and as we watch him seesaw through the crowd, I ask Frances what she thinks is going to happen next.

“I don’t know.” Neither do I. I am stuck. Just before intermission the pair get some bad news. I am wracking my brains to get a thread of where that news might take us in the second half. 

It takes us back to where we left off. I am at first disappointed but then the pair’s smiles beam out at me and I am back in Hudson and Halls’ laps. And I don’t care that all they do is plough on (or should that be drink-on) and fumble through the rest of their live Christmas special. 

Nothing happens, but then it does. There are points where I wonder perhaps if the men themselves are spinning in their graves but on further reflection as we drive home, maybe not. I think above anything else what I learn about my food heroes is that, if nothing else, they knew who they were.

[Spoiler alert] And in a way, I am chuffed with the light, pantomime-esque nature of the special guest singer’s knicker shot or the revolving stage, the fire in the kitchen or the audience volunteers (this is funny though skimming a boarder with jumping the shark).[ends]

I am a little teary as Hudson proudly states, “It’s not how the turkey turns out, it’s who you have it with.”

Love prevails, and beautifully so. I am touched by the sentiment and sad because right at the top of the evening we are reminded how these two men have passed over. Perhaps I am also a bit sad that the show has ended. Just for a little while in between however – thanks to a sensational script by Kip Chapman (who also directs), Todd Emerson and Sophie Roberts – it is like having my television cooking heroes back again.

If you know their story at all, you will not need to prepare for surprises; Hudson and Halls LIVE! is not going to give you a new perspective on the pair. It is a wild, joyous, booze-fuelled romp, and most certainly a very fitting tribute to two of the greats of television cooking. If you don’t know the story, these guys are a refreshing break from the modern age of television chefs and affirm that Hudson and Halls was a brand of reality television like no other. 

Hudson and Halls LIVE! is a great pre-silly-season chuckle. Take a hanky, if you are a fan: there may be a tear or two, too. 

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