Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

15/02/2013 - 23/02/2013

NZ Fringe Festival 2013

Production Details


Anita Moorjani’s book of her near death experience is part of the massive movement of modern spirituality spearheaded by Deepak Choprah, Eckhart Tolle and Dr Wayne Dyer. ‘Minksie and Ron explore the Gap’ by Gina Vanessi toys with the ideas of this movement with absurdist live action mixed with multimedia.

Gavin Rutherford and Gina Vanessi will perform in live action characters as well as taking part in the multimedia sequences which will be filmed in conjunction with ‘Ape on a Whale’ productions.

It’s surreal, it’s a little bit absurd. It’s blasphemous and heretical at times. Ron and Minksie playfully argue how the stuff of stuff-ness works. They build domino trails or chalk drawings and hang upside down. Sometimes they watch the window. There are people in the window; a prostitute, a jar collector, a child, an athlete. There’s a man who is always drunk and a woman who is always organising. These people are all linked, it is revealed.

Gina says “I’m a big sucker for Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra and the ideas they present. I recently read Anita Moorjani’s book about her near-death experience as well. I think I know what she means, and it sounds right and stuff to me. I also love learning about Quantum physics and the weird stuff that happens when people do experiments like Chandra Bose hooking plants up to electromagnetic response devices and Masaru Emoto’s water crystals.”

“As blasphemous and heretical as it sounds, what if WE are god? All of us, together? I’ve got a feeling people have been stoned to death for suggesting this. But when I heard this most recently, I started to feel something, in my chest. And that’s where the play starts. It’s a journey, into the god-space in my chest. Perhaps you have one too.”

F.O.M.O Theatre’s latest production will premiere as part of the Wellington Fringe Festival 2013
Circa Theatre in Circa Two
February 15-23, 7.30pm; 4.30 Sundays 

Elusive search offer laughs on the way

Review by Phoebe Smith 16th Feb 2013

On the opening night audience of F.O.M.O Theatre’s new play, Minksie and Ron Explore the Gap by Gina Vanessi, we enter Circa two to find Minksie (Vanessi) and Ron (Gavin Rutherford) already onstage in the ‘night garden.’ They seem to be creating a state of serenity. Vanessi blows bubbles while Rutherford delicately strums an auto-harp.

But is the serenity genuine, locating the audience in the play’s vibe or is it erring on the side of satire, as may be suggested by Rutherford’s Cheshire cat grin? To be perfectly honest, I’m not sure.

When the nearly full house is finally seated, Rutherford and Vanessi snap into action and we meet Minksie and Ron. Described in the programme notes as ‘child-like’ and wearing t-shirts and overalls, initially both characters seem to be children albeit children discussing big ideas: Minksie has just found God (nestled in her boobs).  But as the play progresses it becomes clear that these characters cannot be children, as, for example, they discuss their personal experience of the difference between being 7 and ‘adult’. So who are they? Where are they? What’s going on? 

The action takes place on a set, described in the programme as the ‘Night Garden’ made by Rutherford (who also directs) and Ulli Briese (who also designed and operates the lights). A kind of suburban Eden is evoked, with the stage covered in a rug of astro-turf dotted with ferns, beautifully lit jars of water like lanterns or lights on a pond and a trellis archway surrounding the window-screen (which we will come to shortly). 

Vanessi and Rutherford bring out various props, including miniature chairs, making them seem child-like again, as they ask each other questions about big ideas and play games within the space. But what is the space? It feels almost like a purgatory, or a waiting room. But what are they waiting for? Godot springs to mind. 

Interspersed between Minksie and Ron’s often very comical discussion and game playing, we are treated to short pieces of video footage, which are played on the window-screen that is cleverly placed in the centre of the garden’s arch. Multiple characters – played by Vanessi, Rutherford and Mikayla Prattley – speak to the camera in a documentary-interview style. These are very well executed and put together.

What begins as seemingly flippant, mockumentary-style and comic moments, builds into a much darker and more disturbing combination of half explained events. Once again, though, it remains half explained. Just as we almost grasp a tangible narrative it stops. So who are these people? Who do they represent?

I leave this play with myriad questions. Perhaps some answers can be found in the title, Minksie and Ron Explore the Gap, and the Fringe programme notes which list as inspiration the works of Deepak Chopra, Dr Wayne Dyer and Eckhart Tolle.

Chopra says of Tolle’s best-selling book, The Power of Now: “Every sentence rings with truth and power – the power to bring you into the gap, the space between our thoughts, where we find … deep serenity, stillness and a Sacred Presence.” Perhaps, then, if this is the gap that Minksie and Ron explore, leaving the play full of questions from the space between our thoughts is exactly what should be happening. Nevertheless perhaps it would be more fulfilling if some more narrative-based answers were less elusive.

It has to be said that at some point we have all stared at a lava lamp or a field of colourful flowers or a blank bit of wall and asked the big questions about God and Time and Existence. It’s unlikely we had as many laughs doing it as you will at this show.


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