Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

24/02/2013 - 10/03/2013

Auckland Fringe 2013

Production Details


A once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the wondroulistic master mind from the other world! Mr. Sackman will be back in town for Auckland’s Fringe Festival on three Sunday afternoons, 24 February, 3 March and 10 March.

After receiving amazing feedback at the small-scale premiere earlier in 2012 at the Audio Foundation the show is now being optimized for a bigger stage.

What originally started as a purely musical project ended up as a multi-dimensional stage play breaking the boundary between fiction and reality. The show features a wondrous wanderer, a bewitched girl and her desperate dad – all criss-crossing each other while trying to find their paths through life.

Monty Python slapstick intervenes with Twin Peaks mystery and keeps the audience curious, not only about the contents of Mr. Sackman’s bags.

Directed and produced by German couple Karin and Markus Hofko Mr. Sackman joins different creative disciplines to create a spectacular piece of art. They collaborated with video artists Simon Oosterdijk and Richard Munro to produce “the window into the other world”, a big screen shadow play and light installation.

The new fashion talent Elizabeth Wilson designed the stylized costumes for the characters.

Supporting actress Sarah Houbolt, famous through her stunning acrobatic performances at Touch Compass, personifies the extraordinary character of the girl.

Inspired by the likes of Italian composer Ennio Morricone and Krautrockers Can, the 7-piece band orchestrates the soundtrack for this bizarre fairytale that is Mr. Sackman. On the lead instruments we hear Daniel Manetto (Dropdead Readhead), jewelry designer Nick Von K, Sophie Yana Wilson and the directors themselves.

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

24th February, 3rd and 10th March, 4pm
Duration: 45 minutes
Venue: The Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD
Tickets: Adult $18, Child $5, Concession $15, Group $15
Bookings: iTicket – or 09 361 1000 

Sundays only - 45 mins

The struggle to be understood

Review by Anna Stillaman 24th Feb 2013

The musicians and performers of Mr Sackman have put together a visually intriguing performance that lives up to its reputation as surreal and bizarre.

Written and directed by Markus Hofko & Karin Hofko, this musical play takes us on a journey that jostles between reality and fantasy – blending our world with another strange and metaphorical world that Mr Sackman inhabits.  

The play begins before the audience enters the room, and before the lights are down.  As we meander to our seats, the play’s Ringmaster is greeting us, jamming with his musicians, chatting about riddles, prancing and dancing, so that just as you start to wonder when they are going to start, you realise that it has already begun.

There is no story in the traditional sense; rather we are taken on a metaphoric journey through some of life’s questions and tragedies.  Just as we think we might be gaining some kind of understanding about what is going on, the play shifts tack and we are thrust into something even more bizarre.

There is much expectation surrounding the arrival of Mr Sackman.  When he does appear, he is an isolated and uncertain creature.  Notably, he speaks in gibberish that not even the other characters understand.  Ultimately we never discover who Mr Sackman is.  The sense is that he represents Everyman, journeying through the world, picking up bits and pieces, and struggling to be understood by those he encounters.  Along the way, he inadvertently affects the lives of those around him. 

As a performance, Mr Sackman blends music, movement and theatre, making it difficult to ascribe any particular genre to it.  Musically, it is alive with tension.  The seven-piece ensemble work cohesively to create a distracted and ‘disorganised’ sound, but always blending together to remind us that there is order in their chaos.

The set is simple, with striking use of a screen where silhouettes, colour and scenes are played out.  Elizabeth Wilson’s truly excellent costumes evoke a sense of ‘ragbag fiesta’ in their design with no unnecessary fluff.

The play concludes with a moving dance by Sarah Houbolt eliciting release, surrender, freedom and elation.

Despite everything Mr Sackman does so well, the performance doesn’t quite deliver on the tension and anticipation that it so expertly inspires.  While one could argue that this is yet another metaphor about life, I found myself wanting more.  The play hums along, but lacks real dramatic shape, and the performances and script feel a little loose at times. 

That said, if you can abandon yourself (for about 45 minutes) to a visual and aural journey, and are happy to make of the imagery what you will, you’ll certainly enjoy yourself.

As I watched the audience emerge from the theatre, they were smiling, and I heard one woman comment that it was “quite cool”.


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