Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

04/02/2014 - 08/02/2014

Q Theatre, The Vault, Auckland

28/02/2013 - 09/03/2013

Auckland Fringe 2013

Production Details


The People Who Play with Theatre present Just Above the Clouds, opening on the 28th of February at Q theatre, a charming and sometimes dark story of love and concrete and how the two don’t mix. From the acclaimed writer of This Kitchen is Not Imaginary and The Suicidal Airplane Ben Anderson comes this bittersweet puppet show about a boy’s quest to find out why he is unable to love.

Armed with a pickaxe and guided by the cryptic clouds that float past, Boy smashes his way through the hard crust of his concrete heart but with every new layer he must face past horrors and challenge lies that he holds close. Aided by Girl, who is not what she seems, Boy is drawn into an absurd spiral of bewilderment.

Fantastical and enigmatic, Just Above the Clouds uses table-top puppetry, glowing lantern-esque imagery and incorporates genuine innovation to create a Tim Burton-esque dreamlike sensibility.

‘Playwright Ben Anderson should be commended for his bravery in not feeling that he has to conform. He takes multitude of risks which includes incorporating amazing and seldom attempted constructed imagery woven into a strong, relevant story’ – Theatrescenes (This Kitchen is Not Imaginary)

The People Who Play With Theatre live under the umbrella of Team Good. For more information visit www.teamgood.co.nz

Auckland Fringe runs from 15 February to 10 March 2013. For more Auckland Fringe information go to www.aucklandfringe.co.nz  

28th February – 9th March
Duration: 50 minutes Venue: Q theatre Vault, 305 Queen Street, Auckland.
Tickets: $14 – $20
Bookings: www.qtheatre.co.nz / 09 309 9771  


‘Trancendental’ – Theatrescenes

‘A delightful excursion into the world of fantasy.’ – NZ Herald

Just Above the Clouds runs from
4th– 8th February
at The Basement Theatre.
All shows 8pm;
bookings: www.iticket.co.nz or 09 361 1000

Boy - Seamus Ford
Girl - Jess Sayer
Cloud - Chye-Ling Huang
Chorus - Amanda Tito, Mark Mockridge, Cole Jenkins, Katrina Wesseling & Hayley Brown

LX design by Ruby Reihana-Wilson
Set design by Ben Anderson and Britney Pilling

Operator – Seth Giles
Production Manager - Amber Molloy

Theatre , Puppetry ,

Cirrusly Funny

Review by Sharu Delilkan 06th Feb 2014

As we entered the theatre we couldn’t help notice the set’s striking resemblance to Roger Waters’ legendary concert’s Berlin Wall setting, the only difference being that it was the “paper sky” version. Opening with cubist fireflies making up the cloud aspect of the show title, the a capella vocal sounds and repetition set the tone for the imaginative movement, propism, puppetry and storytelling we experienced tonight.

Written and directed by Ben Anderson this show worked on many levels due to its utter simplicity but also by the fact that the sky was never the limit. [More


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A charming curiosity of simple complexity

Review by Nik Smythe 05th Feb 2014

Writer/director Ben Anderson is clearly a dreamer; indeed going by the conceptually enigmatic vision that is Just Above the Clouds he would appear to match his protagonist’s claim to being “an aspirational daydreamer”, as well as an existential philosopher and a mildly-to-somewhat-obsessive sentimental introvert. 

He’s also clearly adept at communicating this introversion, evidenced by the simple, assured performance of his dedicated cast.

The story too is a simple – though somewhat cerebral and surreal – insight to the dilemma of a young man who claims he can’t love because he has a heart like concrete, and sets out to discover why. 

The central ‘Boy’ and ‘Girl’ characters are puppets about a foot high, voiced by Seamus Ford and Jess Sayer respectively, and openly manipulated by them and members of the chorus (Hayley Brown, Cole Jenkins, Mark Mockridge, Katrina Wesseling). 

Amanda Tito plays the wryly-empathetic Pickaxe, endeavouring to aid Boy’s quest by chipping away at the stacks of ‘concrete blocks’ that comprise most of the set, designed by Anderson and Britney Pilling.  I presume they also designed the puppets and the prismatic paper lantern clouds, which are not credited. 

Chye-Ling Huang voices the ‘king boss’ of Boy’s memories /dreams /hallucinations: a sagacious, spherical cloud puppet given to shameless self-promotion and even more shameless puns as she presents the riddle – ‘Why is it all about you?’ – the answer of which will either set Boy free or cement his fate (shameless pun not intended).

All soundtracks and sound effects are performed live and a Capella by the cast, their accomplished natural voices contributing to the eerie, dreamlike quality of the scene.

I’m not certain whether there’s any significance to be garnered from the choice to use puppets to evoke Anderson’s cogent script, or even whether the conception of the design preceded that of the narrative. 

I’m also unsure whether I prefer the open style of performance whereby the cast are dressed in regular, albeit black, clothing without covering their faces, to the more conventional approach of shrouding everyone to draw greater focus to the puppets and props.  Sometimes I forget to watch the puppets, my attention drawn to the overt inner workings of the production.  For all I know, that may be the desired effect. 

Regardless, it is a charming curiosity to behold, and it’s quite impressive how much food for contemplation and philosophical analysis the simple story of a simple chap on a simple quest to unravel his own debilitating complexity can provide. 

Not to mention what can be achieved with only a sizeable stack of banana boxes. 


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Bittersweet triumphs of the imagination

Review by Kathryn van Beek 01st Mar 2013

If you only have time to see one Fringe Festival show this season, Just Above The Clouds by Ben Anderson might be the one. The endearing show is everything fringe theatre should be. Sometimes poignant, sometimes confusing, always whimsical, Just Above The Clouds explores the wasteland of love lost with a talented ensemble cast. 

The story follows the tale of Boy (Seamus Ford) who joins forces with Girl (Jessie McCall) to shatter his concrete heart. The heart is imposingly manifest on stage and is chipped away at throughout the show with a pick axe. The niggles in Boy and Girl’s relationship are perfectly illustrated in a discussion about the differences between turtles and tortoises. However the real underlying problems between them transcend even mortality.

Boy finds an unlikely ally in the menacing Cloud, played with great gusto by Chye-Ling Huang. Huang has a real talent for physical theatre and her comic timing is impeccable. She even pulls off Cloud’s terrible puns (“did I just say that out cloud?”).

The play is billed as a puppet show, but it’s more a play featuring puppets. The actors are never hidden and always have their feet, hands and faces on display. This same aesthetic applies to set changes which are accentuated rather than hidden.

Fanciful props and physical theatre add depth and wonder to the myth-like tale. In one memorable scene the cast take us from sunset to night with yellow and orange boxes that are flipped to reveal dark blue tones. A river gurgling as it carries car parts and litter downstream is another triumph of the imagination.

Structurally, the story bounces back and forward through time. A more linear composition might have helped the tension build to greater heights. However the untethered structure does reflect the dreamlike nature of the piece and provides yet another watery motif.

With a bittersweet story, inspired theatrical flourishes and plenty to dissect at Q Bar afterwards, Just Above The Clouds deserves to be circled in red in your Fringe programme.


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