Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

13/11/2012 - 17/11/2012

The Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna, Auckland

05/03/2013 - 09/03/2013

Auckland Fringe 2013

Production Details

re:Generate Theatre invites you to immerse yourself in the jungle of adolescence. Welcome back into the dog-eat-dog world of high school and hormones.

Meet Paul. Paul faces the typical trials of teenagedom – football matches, biology class, little brothers and the terrifying teenage girl. But Paul also faces more pressing problem – his world is unbalanced, reality altered, as the humans around him become more… animalistic. Stranger still are the changes he sees in himself. Does Paul really turn into animals, or is imagination getting the better of him?

Join re:Generate Theatre as they launch this brand new company with the New Zealand premiere of MANCUB. Bryan Johnston, founder and director, was drawn to MANCUB as its theatre in the purest form – storytelling. Written by critically acclaimed Scottish playwright, Douglas Maxwell, and brought to life by an award-winning cast, MANCUB is sure to be a theatrical delight.

With its unique blend of the magical and the mundane, the universal struggle of growing up, merged with metamorphosis and the wild imagination of childhood, MANCUB promises to be simply unmissable.

“Rich and strongly compelling theatrical power” – Thelma Good, Edinburgh Guide

“The success of the play is in its articulation of a life” – Thom Dibdin, The Stage

“An allegory on the loneliness of adolescence” – Philip Fisher, British Theatre Guide

November 13th – 17th at The Basement Studio
7pm start, show is approx 75 mins, no interval
$20 adult, $15 concession (students, senior), Group 5+ $15 each

Bookings can be made through iTicket: 

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13th – 17th November
The Basement Studio

Auckland Fringe runs from 15 February to 10 March 2013. For more Auckland Fringe information go to

MANCUB plays
Date: 5th to 9th March 7.30pm
Duration: 70 minutes (no interval)
Location: The Pumphouse Theatre, Killarney Park, Takapuna
Tickets: $20 adult, $15 concession (students, senior), Group 5+ $15 each 

Starring: Ryan Dulieu, Tansy Hayden and Richard Osborne 

1 hr 15 mins, no interval

Identity crisis in the teenage jungle

Review by Nik Smythe 14th Nov 2012

Beginning outside the entrance with camo-netting type jungle foliage adorned with a handful of stuffed rabbits and possums, the set itself is a two-angled white wall, inset with numerous hatches, windows, doors, slide-out bench seats and a rotating blackboard.

The first production from the nascent re:Generate Theatre is the curious coming-of-age tale of Paul, a 16-year-old high school student played with heart and humour by Ryan Dulieu.

Bryan Johnson’s tight direction starts off at a tight clip and rarely lets up through the hour and a quarter, Dulieu in particular narrating Paul’s intriguing tale of reverse-anthropomorphism with motor-mouthed intensity.  

Paul’s sensitive struggles with his family, the neighbourhood dog, his teachers, his friends and scariest of all, the girl he likes, all seem typical enough, in an Adrian Mole sort of way.  At first his observations, comparing the behaviour of the people around him with various creatures in the animal kingdom, appear to be just that: astute insights into the animal nature of the human condition. 

But as the story advances his personal reality becomes increasingly ambiguous.  He starts communicating with animals, eventually believing he can actually transform into different creatures. The drama comes to an unnerving head when traumatic events lead his bestial instincts to take control over his human sense of reason. 

The supporting players share an eclectic line-up of characters with impressively unpretentious versatility. Tansy Hayden in turn infuses Paul’s chirpy Mum, his stuffily conservative biology teacher and bright, blossoming love interest Karen, among others, with engaging, credible personalities.

So does Richard Osborne as the oppressive, bull-headed Dad (actually ant-headed according to Paul), the aggro, boisterous neighbourhood dog, the blustering Scottish football coach and Paul’s whiz kid/class clown best friend Jerry, et al. 

Dramatically speaking, many questions are raised in the plot which may or may not be fully explained or resolved by the end, the overriding mystery is whether Paul is the reincarnation of a shape-shifting Dr Dolittle, or just plain cuckoo?

The setting for this production of Scottish playwright Douglas Maxwell’s script has been shifted to ‘Auckland, New Zealand, Earth, the solar system…’ albeit an indistinct, pan-dimensional Auckland where the only zoo is a scody dump an hour out of town.

Ultimately the plot is unaffected by this trivial point, but it does kind of defeat the purpose of placing it locally, supposedly to lend a sense of pseudo-familiarity to the audience, then have the geographic description fail to match the real place.  Meanwhile, the variant English/Kiwi/Maori/Scottish accents employed to distinguish the characters aren’t so confusing, in fact they make a fittingly cosmopolitan impression.

Maxwell’s intensive, comical script is a cerebral juggernaut.  Extremely verbose, with almost every relationship and action described in the dialogue (predominantly by Paul), it would easily translate to radio practically unedited.  I’m curious now to find out how closely the extensive description matches the text of the original young-adult novel Flight of the Cassowary by John LeVert, upon which Mancub is based. 

Along with the cast’s demonstrative skills in physical theatrics, Nick Greer’s versatile set design aids greatly in drawing the story off the page.  Every orifice and extension on the rear wall provides countless symbolic props and frames that give visual credence to the discursive text, with Katherine Hair’s unobtrusive lighting design adding more textural layers.

It’s partly thanks to the script’s expository style that Johnson and company are afforded a license to stage each scene as naturally or abstractly as they see fit.  For instance, Paul’s endearing relationship with his little brother Luke belies the fact that Luke’s a floppy doll dressed in kid’s clothes and with a head resembling something between an owl and a lemur, voiced by Hayden through one of the wall openings.

In summary, re.Generate’s inaugural production, exploring identity crisis in the teenage jungle, is a worthwhile experience, successfully showcasing the young cast and crew’s exemplary skills in the field of theatrical production, without becoming unnecessarily showy or gratuitous.  


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Lacks Bite

Review by James Wenley 14th Nov 2012

Mancub tells the familiar story of teenager’s rite of passage from adolescence to manhood. Paul (Ryan Dulieu) traverses the terrain of teachers, parents, his first girlfriend, and school sport. There is one major complication: Paul begins to take on the characteristics of different animals, and eventually believes he can turn into animals at will. 

Scottish playwright Douglas Maxwell’s script debuted at the Soho Theatre in London in 2005, adapted from the book Flight of the Cassowary by John LeVert. It has been tooled towards an Auckland setting for its Basement production.* 

Dulieu is onstage for the play’s entirety; for this teenager, the play’s universe certainly revolves around him. He’s a charismatic guide to the inside of his troubled head, revealing a mix of neurosis, hormonal confusion, and a philosopher’s mind, credibly delivered by Dulieu. [More


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