Jamie Bowen in Munfred Bernstein’s Cabinet of Wonder

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

10/05/2011 - 14/05/2011

BATS Theatre, Wellington

03/05/2011 - 07/05/2011

The Basement -return season, Auckland

18/10/2011 - 22/10/2011

NZ International Comedy Festival 2011

Basement Fest. 2011

Production Details

A rambunctious and ramshackle opus from a man unhinged… 

Munfred Bernstein’s Cabinet of Wonder is a place to celebrate the mystery of the world and the oddities of those who inhabit it. It’s a chance to see that there’s still magic to be discovered, even if it’s only in your mind. It’s an hilarious hour of fantastical stories, characters, scientific untruths and music that at any moment could completely fall apart from sheer enthusiasm alone. You’ll witness a treasure trove of tales both loose and wild from a man slightly bent; all accompanied by music from instruments that sound like they should be put out of their misery. It’s more than just stand‐up… It’s a fast‐paced, fun and frenetic one‐man travelling sideshow.

Devised under the supervision of Ben Crowder (Head, Bad Jelly The Witch) and directed by Jesse Griffin (Wilson Dixon, The 4 Noels), this new and innovative work combines all of Jamie’s talents to make for a truly unique and entertaining hour of comedy. It’s a touch of vaudeville, cabaret, circus, music hall and soapbox oratory; all mixed in together with good old‐fashioned story telling. Marvel as Munfred pulls from his Cabinet of Wonder a collection of curios carefully collated to instil a sense of curiosity. Each object leads us into another story of amazement and intrigue, which is set to a soundtrack played by Munfred before your very eyes. So take a look inside the Cabinet of Wonder. You’ve got nothing to loose; except your wallet and keys.

Jamie has established himself as one of the local comedic talents to watch. He has over a decade of performing under his belt and in that time has been all over New Zealand, not to mention Edinburgh, London, Singapore and Australia. He was the co‐creator and writer for TVNZ’s cult hit A Night At The Classic, has appeared on TV3’s AotearoHa and works both on‐screen and behind the scenes at hit show 7 Days. 2011 marks his 11th year at the NZICF and instead of showing signs of slowing down or being a one‐trickpony, Jamie has again pushed the creative boundaries to bring you a hugely entertaining hour of something that’s hopefully a little bit different and definitely a little bit wonderful. 

“Honestly one of New Zealand’s greatest stand ups… And one of our best entertainers” – tvnz.co.nz

“… A delectable taste for rousing excitement, he is a live wire and hugely talented. A stand

out local comedian; the man is a star ready to be discovered” – coupdemain.co.nz

Dates: 3rd May – 7th May, 9:30pm
Venue: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce, CBD
Tickets: Adults $20 / Conc. $14 / Groups 6+ $14
Bookings: (04) 802 4175 or book@bats.co.nz

Dates: 10th May – 14th May, 7pm
Venue: The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, City 
Tickets: Adults $20 / Conc. $15 / Groups 6+ $15
Bookings: 0800TICKETEK (842 5385) or www.ticketek.co.nz

Basement Fest 2011 
18 – 22 October  

Website: www.jamiebowen.com


Treasure trove of silliness

Review by Nik Smythe 19th Oct 2011

In all the eclectic offerings offered during this celebratory fringe-centric Basement Theatre Festival, what could be more festively fringe-worthy than a run down, vagrant, twisted, burlesque-style travelling musician and raconteur regaling our eager senses in story and song, with his ukulele and adorable mini-pipe organ, and a rickety curtained wardrobe festooned with curious tale-filled trinkets from across the globe, plus a few conveniently stashed liqueur shots? 

Whether or not you can follow and/or answer that query, the dubiously esteemed Mr. Munfred Burnstein’s old school music-hall demeanour is certainly the ticket, what!  In his scruffy black tail-suit ensemble with rolled up trousers and bare feet, and crumpled old black hat that used to be a derby or similar, curly-French moustachioed Fred’ll most gladly turn a tune and spin a yarn to amuse you to the veritable core, even if he gets sidetracked along the way more chronically than Tommy Cooper and Ronnie Corbett put together, which he does. 

A jack of many trades – poet, bard, keen amateur taxidermy enthusiast and so on – our hero recounts the details of his underprivileged childhood as the son of an alcoholic mouse-hanger, his formative years including two years spent in a sleeping bag, and a treasure trove of cosmopolitan anecdotes from his prolific travels. 

Burnstein’s earnest breathy tone resembles Sam Hunt’s to some degree, whilst his more impassioned musical vocals echo Tom Waits.  His rapport with the cheerful crowd is perfectly pitched – especially the lucky young lass in the front row, endowed with the dubious honour of being Munfred’s muse in a would-be poetic paean to her beauty… 

The title centrepiece Cabinet of Wonder is a treasure trove in itself, containing all manner of bizarre souvenirs and bric-a-brac such as dolls, bottles, a piece of Santa’s beard and a 40 foot tapeworm in a jar – all perfectly explainable. 

I confess to have found comedian Jamie Bowen’s work amiable but somewhat lightweight in the past.  Adopting the manic, familiar yet original caricature of Munfred Burnstein works extremely well in his favour, giving more bite to his quirky, clever business of literalising metaphors and observing the obvious. 

All in all, a highly worthwhile hour of silliness.   


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