BATS Theatre, The Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

08/09/2022 - 10/09/2022


Production Details

Joyful Birth by Mel Dodge
Fitting by Etta Bollinger
Anything Could Happen by Indigo Paul
Happiness is HRT by Elspeth Tilley
An Unexpected Delivery by Nī Dekkers-Reihana
Dunno by Stevie Greeks

Joy – “a feeling of great pleasure and happiness” – is what the world needs more of right now. But joy is a shifting creature – what constitutes joy? How do you define something so nebulous?

Our Joy is a collection of six new monologues by female and non-binary writers especially commissioned for TAHI 2022. 

Writers Henrietta Bollinger, Mel Dodge, Stevie Greeks, Ren Lunicke, Indigo Paul and Elspeth Tilley explore what joy means to them through the highs and lows of menopause, childbirth, freedom, whānau, whakapapa, and acceptance. 

Joy follows the success of TAHI’s collection of monologues Batch and Whānau.

“The mark of a successful theatre production is that you’re left wanting more. I could have happily watched this group of talented actors telling their uniquely Kiwi stories with genuine pathos and humour well into the night.” – Tanya Piejus, Regional News (Whānau, 2021)

“A rich and profound experience.” Whānau, John Smythe, Theatreview, 2021

BATS Theatre, The Stage
8 – 10 September 2022
$22 | $20 | $18

The Stage is wheelchair accessible. For full details about accessibility at BATS, Click here.

TAHI Festival
A celebration of solo artists, TAHI is a ten-day Festival from 8-17 September dedicated to showcasing the finest and most engaging solo performances from all around Aotearoa. With events across Pōneke in 2022, check out our website for all the details and to book. | @tahifestivalnz | #TAHI2022

TAHI Taster
Get more art for your buck with our TAHI Taster tickets! See any two TAHI Festival shows at BATS Theatre for just $30 – a saving of $10!


Directed by: Sally Richards and Kerryn Palmer
Dunno Direction support: Stevie Greeks and Nī Dekkers-Reihana
Performed by: Nī Dekkers-Reihana, Mel Dodge and Stevie Hancox-Monk
Design and operation: Bekky Boyce
Sound Composition: Matt Parkinson
Stage Manager: Kate Anderson
Production Manager: Fay Van Der Meulen
Script Dramaturgy: Sameena Zehra

By Arrangement with Playmarket NZ

Solo , Theatre ,

1 hr

Exquisitely crafted, profoundly insightful and engaging

Review by John Smythe 10th Sep 2022

Three dynamic performers perform six exquisitely crafted monologues that share authentic experiences of radical change where, sometimes against significant odds, joy is eventually generated.

A threadbare armchair sits inside a framed yellow cube flanked by a small video screen stage right and a letter box stage left. In a flurry of action, Stevie Hancox-Monk, Ni Dekkers Reihana and Mel Dodge set and reset props on the floor, either side of the cube: a fuming ceramic pot and a dried arrangement; a bright polka dot teapot. Anticipation is heightened, not least by the presence of that letter box.

Joyful Birth, written and performed by Mel Dodge, tracks a first pregnancy from idyllic ideation to confronting realisation. The joyful discoveries of body parts and gently planned hypnobirthing are undercut by parts missing and emergency procedures. Yet perfection prevails in the new mother’s world and Dodge’s performance.

Etta Bollinger’s cleverly titled Fitting features Stevie Hancox-Monk in the role of a nonbinary identical twin attempting to find fitting clothes and words for the speech they’re expected to give at their sister Holly’s wedding to Josh. Recollections of their work with a florist reveals their ill-fitting attitudes to ‘love’ and weddings.

Having to camp on Holly and Josh’s couch also brings their own wants and needs into focus. It’s their reading of trans history that feeds the self-affirming energy Hancox-Monk brings to the role. (The character’s name is shouted from offstage at the end but I don’t quite catch it – Gabe perhaps?)

Nī Dekkers-Reihana is another ball of energy in Anything Could Happen by Indigo Paul. Despite the recurring line, “You have not stopped loving your old lover,” this (also unnamed) person is reclaiming the spaces in their home and the body parts once occupied by the departed lover. Rediscovering an abandoned playlist, “sanding down the bits that snagged”, biking to the beach and convincing yourself anything can happen in an empty space is a highly relatable state of being that Dekkers-Reihana captures with admirable conviction.

Mel Dodge returns to embody an experience well beyond childbirth in Elspeth Tilley’s Happiness is HRT. Confusion over the names of a street and a medical specialist ingeniously allows this woman to take a phone consultation – via a Bluetooth earpiece. A high-performing Project Manager beset with tragicomic symptoms of menopause, she is again unnamed but is married to Darren and has a friend-in-jeopardy called Evelyn Williams.

In the process of sharing her mood swings, the shortfalls in providing effective women’s health are powerfully critiqued. In a performance that would give anyone hot flushes, Dodge is a force to be reckoned with. Yet there is joy in declaring you’re not going to take it any more – even though you will take HRT, despite the expense.

Stevie Hancox-Monk, in a dressing gown, has checked the letter box more than once since the start of the show and now there is something in it! In this delightful interlude – An Unexpected Delivery by Nī Dekkers-Reihana – they share the joy with the audience and raise an intriguing question about the origin of the word for what we are playing with (which some may see as a metaphor for joy).

Now we, in the audience, become Nī Dekkers-Reihana’s unnamed character’s visitor for “a big old debrief” over a cuppa, in Dunno by Stevie Greeks. What unfolds is a poignant sharing of an adult child’s visit to their farmer father. Anyone who is at any point of their te reo Māori journey will relate very strongly to this. Even if you are just increasingly aware of te reo’s resurgence, you will find it enlightening.

In Dekkers-Reihana’s exquisite recreation of the visit, the personal child-father relationship resonates to acknowledge the generational damage inflicted on tangata whenua, their reo and their mana. Beyond the fear and shame they feel, joy is restored in their beautifully rendered waiata.

With Joy, directors Kerryn Palmer and Sally Richards have presided over a profoundly insightful and engaging sextet of memorable encounters. As with many works in the festival – produced by Beth Barclay and Sally Richards – we can only hope they get to play seasons beyond these brief encounters.


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