Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

18/06/2013 - 29/06/2013

Production Details

Yvette Parsons has written a new comedy with Tom Sainsbury. It’s pitch black, and characters and occurrences in the play are based on the kind of newspaper accounts of child and elder abuse none of us want to read. Perhaps some nasty truths behind this piece? 

When life hands Janeece Gunton lemons, she makes lemonade – and force feeds it to her diabetic hubby, Lloyd.

Janeece is the go-getting matriarch of the Gunton clan; wife, mum and gran to them all – her only respite is a good twelve to fourteen hours on the pokies at Sky City – and she’s bloody had a gutsful.  So she’s dealing dope, turning tricks and benefit-frauding her way to some quality me time on The Pride Of Free Enterprise – a floating casino cruise on the Mediterranean. All she needs is a wallet full of cash to get started on the tables. And to get shot of her dying hubby, leeching daughter and a pesky fraud investigator… 

Inspired by people-watching at Sky City, and not least by newspaper horror stories of gambling addictions, and family neglect, Yvette Parsons and Thomas Sainsbury bring you the dark comic tale of Janeece Gunton.

Luck be a lady tonight…

Yvette Parsons, nominated Best Actress and Most Outstanding Performance, Chapman Tripp Theatre awards, 2012, for her solo show Silent Night, and Thomas Sainsbury (Joseph & Mahina, Super City I & II, Terror Planet) are back – fresh from creating the hit gothic horror comedy Dolly Mixture, with a pitch black comedy to rule them all.

Starring Yvette Parsons, Thomas Sainsbury, Bryony Skillington, Andrew Ford and Roberto Nascimento.  

Contains offensive language, violence and sex scenes.

Basement Theatre
Tues 18th June – Sat 29th June at 8pm 
Tickets $25



Yvette has enjoyed a long creative association with Thomas Sainsbury not least of which when he worked as dramaturg for her  ‘tour de force’ solo show ‘SILENT NIGHT’, touring New Zealand to critical acclaim, and for which she was nominated Best Actress and Most Outstanding Performance in the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards 2012.

Her theatre credits include Dolly Mixture (Basement), Mega Christmas (Basement), Dance Troupe Supreme (Musgrove Studio), Dan Is Dead/I Am A Yeti ( NZ International Comedy Festival 2011,The Basement and BATS), Entertaining Mr Sloane (Circa), GAS (BATS), The House of Bernarda Alba (TAPAC), and Stephen Sinclair’s Intimacies: Sweet Thing at The Victoria Theatre, Devonport.  

Yvette’s latest writing collaboration with Thomas Sainsbury, the horror comedy Dolly Mixture, received rave reviews in the Auckland Fringe Festival March 2013, and is booked for a season at BATS in October.

Yvette appears in Taika Waititi and Jemaine Clement’s feature film In The Shadows, a horror comedy which is due for release late 2013.  Television work includes Super City, The Jono Project, Shortland Street, Outrageous Fortune and The Wilson Dixon Show.

Yvette has trained variously with John Bolton, Ben Crowder, Theatre At Large, Raymond Hawthorne and at The Comedy Store, London and The City Literary Institute, London.


Thomas Sainsbury is one of New Zealand’s most prolific and popular playwrights, gaining considerable attention and praise in the past few years for productions of his dark comedies in New Zealand, USA, Australia, Greece, France and the UK. His plays include Sunday Roast, LUV, The Mall, Loser, BeastandThe Christmas Monologues. The Mall, Loser and The ChristmasMonologueshave beenpublished by The Play Press. The second season of Thomas’s TV show, the observational comedy, SUPER CITY, will air later this year. 


Bryony Skillington graduated from Toi Whakaari New Zealand Drama School in 2007. 

She has performed at BATS Theatre in her one woman cabaret Get Cuffed, and has appeared in Christ Almighty (BATS), Toys (BATS), Idiots: Back To School (BATS), as well as the political satire sketch show Public Service Announcement playing Tariana Turia, Rodney Hyde and Annette King and various roles in The Laramie Project: Ten years On (BATS).

She has also performed in 6 Kidzstuff theatre company productions including Badjelly in Badjelly The Witch as well as directing The Hare And The Tortoise.

She enjoys singing, recently with The Cab Savs having hosted the Chapman Tripp Wellington Theatre awards, leading lady ‘Martha’ in the world premiere of Lonely Heart the musical at BATS Theatre and ‘Hilda’ in the world premier of West End Girls at Circa.

Television credits include Nurse Penny Segar in Shortland Street, 26 episodes as ‘Kelly’ in the children’s sitcom Emu TV2/UK TV, ‘Tigerlily’ in season 2 of Paradise Cafe TV2/UKTV and a murder Victim in TV One’s The Investigator.

Having recently moved to Auckland she is excited to be playing Janeece’s daughter, Shontay, in Janeece Gunton: Herstory


Andrew graduated from the Unitec School of Performing and Screen Arts in 2007. As one of the founding members of the Outfit Theatre Company, he has appeared in several of the company’s productions, including: Treasure Island, King Arthur, Boys’ Life, The Office Xmas Party,

Course Related Courses, A Criminal Christmas, Alice, The Sex Show and An Awkward Family Christmas.

Other theatre credits include: Design for Living and the NextStage development season of Le Sud for Auckland Theatre Company, The History Boys for Peach Theatre Company, Auckland and Wellington seasons of The Idea of America and These Are The Skeletons of Us, Some Explicit Polaroids for Rebels & Robots Productions, Nic Sampson’s Idiots 3D, The Complete History of Cinema (Abridged) and The Complete History of Christchurch (Abridged) for the Christchurch SummerTimes Festival (both directed by Mark Hadlow) and just recently, Shop ‘Til You Drop for Centrepoint Theatre


Roberto is an actor and producer based in Auckland, who has been calling NZ home for the past 10 years. Recent theatre credits: The Somnambulist as well as Chub – by Thomas Sainsbury; Terror Island (2012); Terror Planet (2013) – dance shows devised by Tom Sainsbury and Lara Fischel-Chisholm; Play Me Deadly!  – by Louis Mendiola; all at The Basement Theatre. He also produced a new webseries called The Adventures of Suzy Boon which will be released later this year; and next will be Cat And Mouse written by Tom Sainsbury, also at The Basement Theatre in July this year.

Herstory makes Outrageous Fortune look like Go Girls

Review by Sam Brooks 08th Jul 2013

It would be an insult to begin a review of Janeece Gunton: Herstory with anything but the incredible actress who swallows this show, and the entire Basement Theatre up with her performance, and spits it back out at us. So there it is, Yvette Parsons. I’ve never seen her onstage before this, but after seeing Herstory, she’s already an actress I think I’d watch in anything. As the titular Janeece, Parsons is terrifyingly committed as the amoral, warped woman who is leeching several benefits for herself and from her husband, while doing any number of other illegal and dodgy things on the side. All for one thing: a cruise through the Mediterranean.

Janeece is a creation of both Parsons and Thomas Sainsbury, and this play is another in a long list of them for the latter. It features all the hallmarks of a Sainsbury play: it’s funny, it’s filthy, and it explores the dregs of society in ways that are both hilarious and subtly dark. Even more crucially, it explores some specific New Zealand tropes and clichés, things that are only a few degrees from what is probably going on in the less-well-travelled places in New Zealand. Herstory makes Outrageous Fortune look like Go Girls. [More]


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Raw delight

Review by Heidi North 19th Jun 2013

Duo Thomas Sainsbury and Yvette Parsons’ previous devised pieces have involved thrusting their audience deep into the heart of an unsavoury character, and this is no exception. Drawing on the dynamic of a powerful woman determined to fulfil her desires and a hapless victim (the same dynamic at play between them for their successful 2013 Fringe show Dolly Mixture) they bring us Janeece Gunton Herstory.

From the moment the door opens and Janeece (Yvette Parsons) appears on a mobility scooter, throwing the C word in front of her like no tomorrow, looking worse for wear after a hard night losing her sick husband’s pension at the casino, we know we’re in for a treat. 

I don’t think the audience quite expects what was coming next when Janeece comes back from tending her ill husband (or rather not tending as the case may be) …[spoiler averted]… to matter-of-factly make lunch.

This brand of humour, delicious in its sheer shock value, is where this piece really shines. Parsons does a stunning job of bringing Janeece to life. From her garish talons of purple toenails to her blacked out teeth, her gross physicality is pitch perfect.

The premise is simple: Gambling addict Janeece needs $300,000 to go on a Mediterranean cruise and get the life of her dreams. Her plan is to kill off her sick husband Lloyd, sell his belongings and his unit … And to make the remaining $100,000, she’ll have the baby of two gay men.  Perfect.

Only, things don’t go according to plan once wayward daughter Shontay (Brynony Skillington) shows up with her own baby in tow, followed by visits from sex slave fantastist / WINZ fraud officer Derek (Andrew Ford) who threatens to expose her. Not to mention annoying visits from Travis (Thomas Sainsbury), the man whose baby she is having, especially when he wants her to stop drinking and start eating organic muesli.

Lots of laughs ensue, with some particularly strong comedic moments arising from the interactions between Janeece and fragile Travis (well played by Thomas Sainsbury). The cast may be playing caricatures, but Parsons and Sainsbury, in particular, do a fine job of bringing moments of depth to their parts, elevating them from simple stereotypes. There’s a fun cameo from dancer Roberto Nascimento at the end also.

The piece has a just-finished feel about it, and some moments could have been stronger with some clarity and a directorial eye, as at times the real value of the comedy is lost in the fray. But this doesn’t detract from the raw delight of the piece.

Excellent fun. Pitch black comedy which deserves it’s R18 rating.


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