Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

14/02/2015 - 28/02/2015

Auckland Fringe 2015

Production Details

“…wildly hilarious observations about the world…” 

Matthew Harvey’s patience is wearing as thin as his hair.  He’s a ticking time bomb of furious emotion and some rather cross words.  He’s annoyed with dolphins, the bottom half of the internet and general twattery. Songs! Poems! FUN!

“…channelling Dr. Seuss and James Dean.” 4 Stars, Edmonton Journal

Matthew Harvey is a one man cabaret of spoken word, comedy, and music. Late night poetry shenanigans exploring such timeless, classic poetic themes as love, being annoyed at pedestrian crossings, smug aquatic mammals and wanting to be probed by a television doctor. All in a novelty Yorkshire accent. 

Matthew Harvey is originally from the U.K. but now he’s here, and he’s stealing your jobs and your women. He was Poetry Idol runner up 2011 and made his Fringe debut in Auckland 2011 with “Gush! Love and Other Filthy Habits” which co-starred his partner Penny Ashton. He has also been a feature poet at London’s Farrago poetry night and at Wicked Words in Leeds, but without a doubt, his career high point to date, was becoming Castleford and District Cub Scout Quiz Champion in 1986.

In the 2013 Auckland fringe he performed the solo show “Matthew Harvey is Dangerman” an hour of comedy/poetry/music. Also In 2013 he performed the show at the Edmonton Fringe festival & the Fort McMurray Interplay Festival (both in Canada) he has performed feature poetry spots her in New Zealand as well as Canada, & the UK.

“…wildly hilarious observations about the world…” Theatreview Dunedin

“…good fun with life and the English language. User-friendly live poetry that will leave you smiling…” Vue Weekly Edmonton.

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

Matthew Harvey Blows Up! plays
11pm 14, 21 & 28 February 2013
The Basement, Lower Greys Ave,
$18 Full, $15 concession. Free to Fringe Artists

ph 0508 iTICKET (484-253)


Fun, funny, political, rich in irony, sharp in satire

Review by Lexie Matheson ONZM 15th Feb 2015

Matthew Harvey is a unique and interesting performer. It seems, from most of the promotional material I’ve read, that’s he’s seen more as a stand-up comedian than anything else. That he is much more than that is apparent immediately in his new show Matthew Harvey Blows Up.

I first experienced a snippet of his work as an add-on to a Hot Pink show –GUSH: Love and Other Filthy Habits – in 2011, where he performed a poem or two and showed that his singular talent was already well developed. On that occasion he performed ‘Danger Man’ and on this occasion he opens with the same, self-deprecating work. It’s fun, and rather like meeting an old friend, one that has stood the test of time and come though unscathed – and not many of us can claim that! 

Harvey is a physically imposing man: tall, sandy-haired, attractive and, on this occasion, dressed immaculately in a dark suit, white shirt, black tie (with sparkly clip) and shiny black shoes. He enters, following the seemingly obligatory voice over, carrying a new-looking ukulele case and a green, supermarket bag from which he takes a couple of cans of heavy lager and a helpful piece of paper that he refers to, apologetically, from time to time. It’s a new show, he says, and he’s not very experienced. That much seems, at this point, like stating the very obvious.

He opens one beer, introduces it as dark lager – not to everyone’s taste, he suggests – and gives the second can to a young man in the audience who opens it, takes a sip, and passes it on to someone else. Harvey is right about the beer, and not for the last time is he on-song during the 60 minutes that follow. 

It’s a wobbly old start but the ‘small but perfectly formed’ audience don’t seem to care because Harvey is personable and vulnerable and we’ve already invested 45 minutes in his show due to some programme mismanagement by The Basement that has seen the show go up 40 minutes late. Since the scheduled start time was 11pm this is poor form on the part of the venue and is simply not good enough. 

Harvey talks about emotional journeys, drops in a comment about Australians – usually a great way to get a Kiwi audience onside – and then drops the bombshell that, contrary to the advertising, his is a poetry show. The deceit, if you can call it that, is justified by Harvey saying that no-one ever goes to poetry shows. If he’s right – and his is a poetry show – then if anyone can change this, Harvey can, because what follows is fun, funny, political, rich in irony, sharp in satire and a damn good night out. 

He talks about poetry, about being self-indulgent and writing about himself, delivers ‘Danger Man’ and we’re underway. It’s full of great lines and the laughter is real and heartfelt. 

Next he rips into our beloved Prime Minister and the Eleanor Catton fiasco. He takes Key’s statement that Catton is ‘a fictional writer’ and makes much political capital from it. We hoot in agreement as Harvey’s dark satire hits home and there are a few comments about Teflon John and – Harvey being a foreigner from Yorkshire – his incredulity at New Zealanders’ patience with a leader who lies not once, not twice but seemingly all the time. He is yet another skilled writer calling out our government – and it is mightily well received. 

Next he delivers a fact/fiction set which is free-form and fun, and which segues into an introduction to ‘found’ poetry. What follows is the equivalent of a running gag with ‘rants and raves’ from the NZ Herald – the only reason, Harvey tells us, to buy the paper – that are fantastic and prove that this man can turn anything into performance poetry while, at the same time, giving a tart slap to middle aged, middle class, white New Zealand and in particular those older men who hate kids. There are plenty of them and they are all found exercising their keyboard warrior toxicity in the ‘below the line’ comments section of the Herald. 

‘Embarrassing Bodies’, people who are too shy to talk to family and friends but who are happy to unload it all on television, and Dr Pixie McKenna find themselves under the spotlight next in what Harvey calls a ‘love poem’. It’s complex satire and also works a treat. I’m reminded of Whim Wham. Could Harvey be next? 

Darts feel the sharp end of Harvey’s disdain before he moves on to the centrepiece of the evening, a work called ‘The Optimist’. It’s black, extreme, and Sepp Blatter is the target. He’s earned Harvey’s rage and, while we laugh, there’s a hint of shock as well. It’s courageous work, and that must be acknowledged, but underpinning it is a very sharp mind, some very clever writing and an understanding of performance that is far beyond Harvey’s apparent lived experience. 

With so much excellent material behind him, Harvey – who moves like a charm, has immediate access to his darkest emotions, and has a great voice and charm to burn – shows this performance nous in a piece at the heart of which is the frustration he feels when, having already pressed the button to cross the road, someone comes along and presses it too. On the surface it’s petty, but Harvey links it to our most primal emotions and, as such, it’s seriously funny and most effective.

Next, a Valentine’s Day love poem entitled ‘I Quite Like You, I Do’. I’ve heard it before and welcome hearing it again if only because it’s a delicate, very male, charm offensive and, since he speaks of a fiancé, it would seem to have worked its magic. 

The show ends with a self-accompanied (ukulele) song – Matthew Harvey hates dolphins – and I’m sorry it’s all done. I might disagree with his sentiments about dolphins but I’m hugely impressed by his talent, his performance skills, his writing and his potential. The show needs a bit of work at the front end – loose is OK but this was too rickety – but Harvey deserves good houses and I have no hesitation in recommending Matthew Harvey Blows Up to you.

There are more performances as part of the Fringe FestivaI so have an afternoon nana nap and venture out. I’ve had a great night, irrespective of the late hour, and my fellow audience members have too, judging by the book sales that happen post-show. Yes, Harvey has a book and for a mere $5 you can have a copy too. It’s great that the satire never stops – the book is called ‘Landfill’ and all you literary types will no doubt get that allusion immediately. 


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