Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

13/08/2013 - 24/08/2013

Production Details


When the rich and famous like Whitney Houston or John Belushi die in the room of an expensive hotel, it makes the news and the establishment puts its rates up.  When Sex Pistol Sid Vicious stabbed his girlfriend to death on the bathroom floor of Room 100, it put the Chelsea Hotel on the map.  Everyone wants to talk to the concierge who was the target of Russell Crowe’s phone rage. 

MOTEL, playing  the Basement Theatre from August 13th, is a drama of four vignettes set in one slightly seedy motel room where the unrelated stories and “guests” are linked by the Motel Manager whose own secrets are eventually revealed. 

Jenny needs the room to have sex with a stranger. 

Pearl and Harry need the room for peace.  But peace comes at a price. 

A travelling salesman who sees the world through rose tinted glasses and drinks from a glass half full, is changed forever when he meets the motel manager. 

Annabel needs the room for a casual affair, but then she meets the housekeeper from Hell. 

Luxury hotels epitomise how the other half live and how the other half die.  Surrounded by opulence and scandal and immortalised forever within the walls of a grand building. 

But a motel is a metaphor for the life the ordinary person.  You and I.  The “average Joe” who just passes through life, making no great difference to the world.  We may leave a mess behind.  Trash the room.  Leave dirty laundry.  Steal the towels.  Or simply pass through unnoticed.  No legacy.  No accountability.  We’re all just passing through. 

There’s an anonymity about backwater Motels that’s attractive to many.  Couples needing a room for illicit affairs.  Cons hiding out or dealing drugs.  Somewhere to lie low.  Somewhere to hide. 

April Phillips is the award winning New Zealand writer of international hit plays STiFF, and Death & Taxe$, and of the film Letter For Hope.  Phillips writes about ordinary people facing extraordinary moral dilemmas.  Her aim is to create believable characters and situations that the audience will relate to so that they will leave the theatre wondering whether they themselves would have made the same choices. 

The Basement Theatre season of MOTEL”is the professional premiere produced by Cas’n’Ova Productions.  Todd Rippon directs a cast of powerhouse stage and screen actors, including Kenneth Blackburn ONZM, Lorae Parry, Peter Hayden, Renee Sheriden, Ruth Dudding, Coen Falke, Leisha Ward-Knox and Cameron Rhodes in a sequence of four provocative and thrilling stories. 

Rippon has created an intimate setting for the play and poses the question:  Have you ever wondered what was going on through the paper thin wall?  The shouting, the banging headboard, the cackles, the screams, the sudden silence?  Those titillating sounds that intrigue and tease. 

’Motel’:  Come… be a fly on the wall 

MOTEL plays:
13th – 24th August 2013, 8.00 pm
4.00 pm Matinees on Saturday 17th and Saturday 24th 
The Basement, Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD
Tickets: $25 – $30 (booking fees may apply)
Bookings: iTicket – or 09 361 1000

Ken Blackburn – The Manager
Renée Sheridan – Jenny
Coen Falke – Ben
Peter Hayden – Harry
Lorae Parry – Pearl
Cameron Rhodes – Elvis
Liesha Ward Knox – Annabel
Ruth Dudding – Janet

Lucie Everett-Brown – Stage Manager
Amber Molloy – Operator

Craig Hutchison – Producer
Ali Robb – Production Assistant 

Would benefit from a snappy edit

Review by Frances Morton 19th Aug 2013

Motel has a great concept for stage – one dodgy motel room and a shifting kaleidoscope of characters. In essence, it’s a collection of one-act plays loosely tied together by a crotchety old innkeeper (played by stage veteran Ken Blackburn).

The temporary inhabitants of the room open windows on their inner worlds, giving New Zealand playwright April Phillips the chance to touch on life’s major plot points – infertility, illness, infidelity. The characters are good company and Philips has us immediately interested in each of their predicaments but … [More]


sidelined August 19th, 2013

Thanks for the only honest review of this play I've read. I found the blackout's in the play killed all the "drama" that there was, let us see the awkward through the clothes sex and actually feel something for those characters, don't cut away. If we had seen those moments we weren’t able to witness then maybe this would have be an okay play not just the bunch of over long cliché ridden scenes punctuated with moments of fine acting. As it stands it's dreary and just a little boring and all the theatre luvies in the audience the night I went chuckled lightly at what were telegraphed (by the actors) as funny lines. There was no suspense I knew from the outset of scenes what the endings would be like and any sense of dramatic tension was cut right through by the Motel owners snappy one liners that punctuated every scene. I kept waiting for the acting to stop and the scenes to take flight… they never did.

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Nothing cheap about motel-room script

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 15th Aug 2013

Playwright April Phillips has created a finely crafted script that serves up four vignettes on the unexpected encounters that can take place in the transient, anonymous and deeply revealing space of a cheap motel room.

The intimacy of The Basement is well suited to the human scale of the drama and Godiva Productions has put together a highly polished production that provides opportunities for a distinguished cast to get their teeth into a variety of meaty roles with a Kiwi flavour. [More]


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Smart, succinct and startling

Review by Sharu Delilkan 14th Aug 2013

How can anyone resist being a voyeur? That’s probably what everyone was thinking as they sat down to witness the shenanigans about to take place before their eyes in the seedy motel room presented on stage in front of them.

Motel definitely provided the audience their fill of scandal as the stories in the four “unrelated” vignettes unfold on stage. [More]


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Dramatic, comedic, honed, unexpected and sharp

Review by Heidi North 14th Aug 2013

One room. Four stories. What could possibly go on behind those 2-star walls? There is a gristly delight in playing the voyeur, a fact which April Phillips’ clever new play exploits to delightful effect, enticing us be a fly on the wall in a 2-star motel in the back blocks of beyond.

We’ve all been guilty of imaging what other guests get up to in a night in a motel in the middle of nowhere – just what do ordinary people do when given the freedom of just passing through?

Staffed by the uninspiring manager (Ken Blackburn) who believes talk causes more trouble than it’s worth, we meet some people whose lives will be changed forever after a night in this motel.

Jenny (Renee Sheridan) needs the room to have sex with a stranger (Coen Falke), but gets more than she bargains for from the transaction. Pearl (Lorae Parry) and Harry (Peter Hayden) need the room for anonymity.

Travelling salesman Elvis (Cameron Rhodes) has an uncomfortable conversation with the motel manager. Annabel (Liesha Ward Knox) needs the room for a night of steamy sex, but her plans go awry when she meets the housekeeper (Ruth Dudding) from Hell.

In each segment director Todd Rippon has drawn out the tension to create a car-crash can’t-look-away quality, as we are sucked into the most intimate of moments.

The whole ensemble are excellent, giving assured performances. While all are strong, Ken Blackburn’s seedy motel manager can’t help but steal the show.

The drama is offset nicely with comedic moments. The SWANZ Awards-nominated script is honed, unexpected and sharp. Each vignette brings us to the edge. One moment we’re squirming in our seats, the next laughing in relief.

Motel is a rich and enjoyable piece. It’s a treat to spend an evening with these characters, guiltily watching.


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