The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

27/04/2013 - 04/05/2013

Production Details




The team behind SCARED SCRIPTLESS are bringing their improvisation skills to a family-friendly time with MAN’S BEST FRIEND, an improvised romantic comedy with a twist. Despairing that they will ever find true love, the show’s romantic leads turn to the dating expertise of a pet dog, played by improviser Brendon Bennetts.


For Bennetts, playing the character of DOG has been an eye-opener. “Finding a mate is a walk in the park once you learn a few simple tricks.  I’ve realised that humans go about things all backwards, chasing after the ladies before the first bum sniff has even been reciprocated.  We really can learn a lot from the canine world.”


With all the audience interaction and spontaneity that SCARED SCRIPTLESS is known for, no two shows of THE EARLY EARLY LATE SHOW: MAN’S BEST FRIEND will be the same.


In a first for The Court Theatre, Tweet Seats will also be available for audiences. These specially marked seats will allow patrons to “live-tweet” during the show – and with a feed straight to the stage, audience’s tweets may even be incorporated into the action.


When asked whether DOG’s mortal enemy, CAT, will make an appearance in the show, Bennetts is curiously silent.

MAN’S BEST FRIEND runs for a very limited season
from 29 April to 4 May
Performances are 7:30pm nightly. 
All tickets are $16. 
For more information, please visit or call 03 963 0870.

Features: Brendon Bennetts, Robbie Hunt, Phoebe Hurst and Ralph McCubbin-Howell

A thoughtful and satisfying piece of storytelling

Review by Erin Harrington 30th Apr 2013

The enduring relationship between a dog and his master is the heart of Man’s Best Friend, a rather sweet rom-com that offers up a well-crafted but low-key story about one person’s search for loving human companionship.

The titular MBF is Dog – a deadpan Brendon Bennetts in a rather fetching Dalmatian onesie – who provides occasional narration, interacts with the audience, and tries to understand and aid in his master’s quest to find a significant other.

The night I attend, the Man in question is a woman, Lucy (Phoebe Hurst), who doesn’t have a great track record with men, perhaps because Dog seems to chase away some of the more likely contenders. The audience provides Lucy’s occupation and hobby – teaching preschool, flying stunt kites – and the story follows her as she tries to balance two competing love interests and her friendship with Dog with the self-interest that springs up when she is given the opportunity to realise her ambition: in this case, writing children’s books.

Ralph McCubbin-Howell and Robbie Hunt provide a varied and engaging supporting cast, differentiated by a collection of funny hats and comedy wigs. Christchurch Jazz School graduate Chris Wethey supplies excellent jazz-infused musical accompaniment and occasional sound effects on his double bass.

The Court Jesters are adept at long form improvisation, and I appreciate that shows such as this privilege story and character development over cheap gags. The humour comes from the gentle and loving relationship between Lucy and Dog and from skilful and witty reincorporation of running jokes and supporting characters – indeed, these funny, organic moments are the high points of the show.

The plot itself is well-crafted and the occasional scripted elements and narrative signposts aren’t too intrusive. The underlying structure provides the players, as directed by Alice Canton, with enough latitude to find creative solutions to narrative problems while keeping the story moving forward, although there is rarely a sense of urgency.

The set from the recently finished production of THE WOMEN provides the backdrop. The players generally use the available spaces and levels well, although the choice to use the full breadth of the very wide stage does not help to focus the action.

It is a hard ask to light a show on the fly, especially when using the lighting plot from a different, much larger production, and it is unfortunate that at times the lighting changes are clumsy and distracting – “less is more” may have been a more successful approach.

This isn’t the slickest thing I’ve seen from the Jesters; some transitions are very rough around the edges and the pace at times was so casual that even at 75 minutes, including a 15 minute interval, the show felt a touch long. However, the format provokes a thoughtful and satisfying piece of storytelling that should have broad appeal.


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