Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

16/08/2016 - 27/08/2016

BATS Theatre: The Heyday Dome & The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

09/08/2018 - 18/08/2018

Production Details

Balling. Boffing. Bushwhacking. Getting laid. It’s all sex. And there’s so much to say about sex.  

Last Tapes Theatre Company presents the debut season of Mating in Captivity by Oliver Page, as part of the 2016 First Steps season. It’s whip smart, it’s funny, it’s about sexual subtext and you can’t spell subtext without butt-sex.

Annie and Rob are getting engaged. Or got engaged and their engagement party is tonight. But on their way out the door they get a call. It’s Jacob, Rob’s old school friend. He needs a place to stay.

In spite of his future wife’s plea for privacy, Rob invites Jacob to bunk down with them in their teeny tiny, rinky dink central Auckland apartment.

What follows is a screwball comedy that brilliantly and viciously cuts to the quick of some pretty important questions about liberal ideals and middle-class morality.

In characteristic Last Tapes fashion Mating in Captivity brings together a team of some of the coolest, newest young creatives.

This is Oliver Page’s debut as a playwright, he’s better known as a writer and director with Candlelit Pictures (We Talk About Loss, Runaways).

Mating in Captivity showcases the emerging directing talents of Renee Lyons, seen on TV in Filthy Rich, 800 Words and on stage in numerous plays and comedy shows, including her own show Tinderella in the NZ International Comedy Festival.

Starring Milo Cawthorne (Deathgasm, Once on Chanuk Bair, 360), Frith Horan (The Tempest, Benedict Cumberbatch Must Die) and Jack Buchanan (Jekyll and Hyde, Long Ago Long Ago, Servant of Two Masters).

Last Tapes Theatre Company presents
Mating in Captivity
Basement Theatre
16-27 August, 8pm
Tickets $18-20 

A Mulled Whine is tipsy with pride to be bringing Mating in Captivity to Wellington. The award-winning one-woman production company specialises in comedy that is comforting and real, like your third wine on a tough Tuesday.

BATS The Heyday Dome
9 – 18 August 2018

*Access to The Heyday Dome is via stairs, so please contact the BATS Box Office at least 24 hours in advance if you have accessibility requirements so that appropriate arrangements can be made. Read more about accessibility at BATS. 

Milo Cawthorne as Rob
Frith Horan as Annie
Arlo Gibson as Jacob

Written and Directed by Oliver Page

Produced by Eleanor Strathern, A Mulled Whine
Lighting Design and Operation by Ronnie Livingstone
Set Design by Oliver Page, Ronnie Livingstone and Eleanor Strathern

Theatre ,

Loudly appreciated on opening night

Review by Tim Stevenson 10th Aug 2018

Mating in Captivity presents as a hip, slick, fast-paced comedy about modern 20-somethings trying to work out who they are deep down inside while having fun in the big city (I’m guessing Auckland, but the script doesn’t let on).  

It’s also a puzzle play, not so much a whodunnit as a ‘why did he do it?’ – a question that works its way through the play like a fizzing fuse looking for its keg of dynamite.

But enough metaphors – the lights go down, the audience stops chatting or devicing and pays attention to cool, sexy Jacob (Arlo Gibson), just off the plane and in need of a place to stay for the night. So he calls his old friend Rob (Milo Cawthorne) and Rob says, yeah, you can come and stay. Throughout the call, Rob is a bit manic and wild eyed, partly because that’s what he’s like and partly because it’s a special night for him and Jacob is one man too many, like a spare bachelor at a wedding – but Rob says yes, and therein lies the puzzle.

We won’t give away too much of the plot because the specialness of the night is one of the play’s most original gags – let’s just say that Annie (Frith Horan), also expecting a special night, doesn’t [spoiler alert] take kindly to finding cool, sexy and by now naked Jacob in her and Rob’s bed. [ends]

Annie – who is loud and in your face; a restless soul who doesn’t believe in keeping her misgivings to herself – senses a mystery and goes hunting for the key. In practical terms, this involves stomping about physically and verbally, while Rob and Jacob do a coy, sly mating dance in between dodging her assaults.

In fact, the character of Annie does a lot of the heavy lifting in this play. Her goads and relentless sleuthing whip the plot along, while her needling interrogations supply a lot of the wisecracking humour. Horan brings an impressive array of skills to the part, which requires a lot of physical commitment and verbal range. It’s something of a knife edge performance, because the way author/director Oliver Page has written Annie, she can come across as refreshingly direct, honest and vital, or as an abrasive pain in the butt who doesn’t know when to stop, and sometimes all of the above at once.  

Horan mostly plays the part for laughs rather than sympathy (sympathy being a perfectly valid option in Annie’s circumstances), a choice obviously enjoyed by the opening-night audience. We know this is a conscious choice on her and Page’s part because she can be entirely convincing in her quieter and more reflective moments, particularly when she is buddying up to Jacob. 

Also convincing is the teeter-totter relationship between Rob and Jacob, as they go through various permutations of did he, didn’t he? Did I, did we? And are we going to, again? Gibson and Cawthorne create a nice balance and rapport between cool, comfortable in his own skin Jacob and edgy, sensitive Rob, with his neuroses and poetry.

Gibson gives a quiet, assured performance which demonstrates a well-judged and economical sense of comic timing. Cawthorne plays Jacob at full tilt, running around, falling over, panicking and vomiting, all done with spirit and commitment; he’s got a great face for the part, gentle and sincere one moment, wide-eyed with existential terror at the next. 

Annie and Rob in combination aren’t quite as credible. She’s full on and going remorselessly forward, he’s all over the place and backpedalling furiously, which is fine and often funny, but the presumed deeper currents of tenderness and love aren’t easy to detect or, when they do surface, to believe in.

Page isn’t quite sure how to resolve the play’s various conundrums so in the end the lights go down, the music cranks up and it’s dance time – which is one plausible conclusion to a 20-somethings evening of drinking, getting high and philosophising about love and sex. It’s a great song too, with highly suitable lyrics (take it away, Bloodhound Gang and Oliver Devlin on sound):
   You and me baby ain’t nothin’ but mammals
   So let’s do it like they do on the Discovery Channel.
Yes indeed.

The set is excellent; the patio/balcony thing is particularly to be admired (set and lighting design, Ronnie Livingstone).

The opening night of Mating in Captivity was loudly appreciated by its audience, numbers of whom gave it standing applause at the close. 


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Page to Stage

Review by Matt Baker 21st Aug 2016

There is a significant step missing in Auckland’s theatre industry. Between independent producers and production companies presenting their own works, whether old or new, there are few of either who dedicate themselves to introducing new playwrights, actors, designers, and directors to Auckland audiences. Enter Last Tapes: First Steps season, which is “dedicated to supporting and staging debut work of emerging artists in our community.”

Inspired by his mid-twenties friends marrying and the dialogue-driven sex farces of 1930s cinema, Mating in Captivity is Oliver Page’s theatrical scriptwriting debut. Considering his body of short work in film, Page has made a clear transition from screen to stage, with a truly modern day romp.

We may be through with the past, but the past isn’t through with us, and this is never more true than when old “friends” resurface. [More


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Enjoyable farce

Review by Janet McAllister 19th Aug 2016

Mating in Captivity is fun, naturalistic farce. 

Oliver Page’s Mating in Captivity, produced by Last Tapes, shows us a pitfall of studio apartments: no room for unexpected guests. Page uses the ensuing claustrophobia to amusing effect, probing a few 20-something preoccupations – anxiety, jealousy and getting high – while also slipping in some musings on metaphor. [More


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Hilarious and profoundly frustrating

Review by Nik Smythe 19th Aug 2016

Annie and Rob are young twenty-somethings, in love and on their way to a party to celebrate their newly announced intention to wed.  When Rob’s old schoolmate Jacob calls out of the blue, back in the country after years teaching English overseas, Rob invites him to stay without consulting or even considering Annie’s feeling on the matter. This causes some awkward tension early on, though fear not – it does get worse.

As the precise nature of the lads’ past relationship is hesitantly revealed at the insistence of wounded, acid-tongued Annie, the already inebriated trio proceed to alternately bond and alienate each other in an attempt to process a lot of sudden new information.  The frustration is profound as everyone second-guesses each other and refuses to accept anyone else’s rationale.  Most pertinently, they could sleep on it and discuss it when they’re more sober and level-headed – but don’t. 

Oliver Page’s uproarious script skirts the tenuous line between healthy communication and irrational obsession. The trio’s painfully inefficient discourse cracks along at a screwball comedy pace, albeit with less suave and more distinctly Kiwi personae.

Frith Horan’s Annie is the most brazenly outspoken of the three, confident in her sexuality and up for the tussle. Jack Buchanan’s fragile Rob is somehow simultaneously insensitive and oversensitive, which his medicated clinically anxious condition helps to explain. Milo Cawthorne’s Jacob is as polite and understanding as is expected of any guest; opportunistic yet, as it turns out the most honest of the three. 

Adroitly directed by Renee Lyons, the small cast give excellent portrayals of well-rounded characters, each displaying degrees of compassion, selfishness, empowerment and vulnerability.  It’s a testament to the company’s expertise in the craft that they can elicit wholly sympathetic performances of such essentially self-centred millennials. 

Set designer Poppy Serano achieves a high degree of urban class within the belovedly rustic confines of the Basement.  Around the walls, ingeniously laser-printed life-size photos of furniture include shelves, a cooking range, fridge, drawers and appliances.  These are augmented by a real window, a kitchen counter with sink and rinser, a king size bed, wardrobe rack and ottoman unit; all set upon elegant wooden veneer floor panelling. 

Rachel Marlow’s felicitous lighting design, combined with the audible underlying perpetual drone of traffic (sound design uncredited), amply cements the impression of Annie and Rob’s inner-city lifestyle. 

Extra commendations are in order for the cast’s professional fortitude on Thursday’s show, as they appeared undisturbed by the exasperatingly loud, wasted audience member providing his obnoxiously audible personal commentary throughout, despite vain attempts to politely subdue his invasive enthusiasm.  


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