Kairoa Glory – A Top Town Story

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

02/06/2009 - 06/06/2009

Production Details


After a successful season during the Auckland Fringe Festival, Toi Trade Theatre Company brings their comedy hit, Kairoa Glory – A Top Town Story back, with a season in Auckland at the Basement.

Set on the West Coast of the South Island, it tells the story of the tiny town of Kairoa who have a dream, ‘Getting into the new format top town’. However there is one problem. The town is plagued by shame and regret over tragic events that took place in the back in 1990.

Top Town was in Kairoa. However, some dodgy judging and calculations meant that Greymouth were declared the 1990 winners. Angry and cheated, this lead Kairoa to one of the darkest day in New Zealand Television history, the kidnapping of Mark Leishman.

19 years on and Kairoa believes the only way it can show their repentance is by making a formal apology to Mark. We follow the town as they prepare for the biggest event to hit the West Coast since…well Top Town. We discover how they came to grips with the loss, how the tragic events affected them, what’s happened since and how they plan to get back up to be Top Town Champions. 

Created and Directed by Glen Pickering, the show is based on a chain of coincidences. 

"I always remember Top Town coming to Wairoa, my small home town in the Hawkes Bay. It was a huge for the town. All the cameras and people. I did some work with Mark last year and found out he was the host during the late 80’s. Then TVNZ announced the show was coming back this year. Finally I discovered that Wairoa, was in the middle of an uproar about Greymouth being the so called 1990 Champions and had been fighting to get into the new format Top Town. It just all seemed to funny and perfect. A unique place, creates unique people, which in turn create unique situations."

The cast features Bronwyn Turei who is currently starring as Cody in TV2’s ‘Go Girl’s’, Daniel Coppersmith, Rachael Blampied, Jeremy Birchall, Jonny Hair, Sarah Gallagher and of course successful television and radio personality Mark Leishman. All of the cast, apart from Mark are Graduates of Unitec School of Performing and Screen Arts.

Kairoa Glory – A Top Town Story
Tuesday 2nd – Saturday 6th June, 8pm
The Basement, Lowers Greys Ave, Auckland

Bookings through iticket
Online  – iticket.co.nz or by calling 09 361 1000
Tickets: Adult $25, Concession $18  

Hammy comedy / satire

Review by Candice Lewis 03rd Jun 2009

As we sit down on this bitterly cold evening, old footage from the televised event that was Top Town is being projected onto a screen for our viewing pleasure. I don’t recall ever watching Top Town and the friend with me is too young to remember it at all.

The story itself is about a homophobic, ignorant and self-absorbed little community eager to redeem itself due to an ‘unfortunate incident’ involving Mark Leishman in 1990. Mark Leishman was the generously moustached late 80’s host of Top Town. ‘Kairoa’ wants to make it up to Mark and sets about trying to do so.

The characters are mostly cartoonish and oafish, with the obvious exception of Crystal (Bronwyn Turei) who plays her part with depth and sensitivity. She is the character allowed to have a few layers to her personality; much of this communicated by her use of a wheelchair and the way she handles the insensitive jokes and comments that come her way because of it. She is the only character with any dignity.

The cringe factor present may be intentional satire, but for the most part it reminds me of television comedies that didn’t quite work, such as Melody Rules.

Colin the cop (Jonny Hair) warms to the naïve homophobe role as the play unfolds, and Daniel Coppersmith is enjoyable as the local Headmaster. Coppersmith also plays the parts of a ‘crazy European’ artist and ‘Young Meat-head’.

One of my favourite scenes is when Coppersmith, Blampied and Turei play a scene as a trio of young friends in Kairoa. It is so accurate that I feel I have been transported to the small town I lived in for a year and a half; I expect one of them to refer to ‘Dorklanders’ at any moment.

Rachael Blampied is completely convincing as Becky and Tracey, two wonderfully annoying and vapid representations of young woman hood.

What I’m finding hard is that I don’t feel empathetic towards any of these characters apart from Crystal and Colin (and Colin’s only just scraping in there).

The actors are getting a good amount of laughs and are hamming it up for all it’s worth, but I don’t feel moved by their plight. I don’t care if they have a parade for Mark Leishman or not, and the constantly ‘stressed out’ Morag (Sarah Gallagher) is one of those women who are prematurely middle-aged and loving it. Sarah makes Morag into the kind of woman you try to get away from in the tea room, and if that was intentional, well done. 

Jeremy Birchall portrays an egotistical Mayor well enough; I don’t like him and don’t think I’m meant to. Everything is very ‘actory’, and over the top, but I think this is the intended style of the play.

The second half picks up and includes audience participation which is funny and embarrassing. Funny for those who are really getting into it and harbour the desire to leap on stage and join in, and embarrassing for those who want to slink back to their seats, wines in hand.

Walking back to the car afterwards, I see a couple of guys at the crossing who were at the play. We smile at each other. "So what did you think of the play?" I ask.
"Oh it was brilliant, really funny. What did you think?"

I think this was a light hearted, hammy comedy / satire that appeared to appeal to most of the audience. If you happen to care at all about Top Town, or you like very light entertainment, then this could be the play for you. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council