Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

16/05/2012 - 19/05/2012

NZ International Comedy Festival 2012

Production Details


Too drunk to live, but too stubborn to die, Ngaire and Naureen are putting their combined 140+ years of experience on men, drinking, race relations, men, religion, drinking, politics, men and drinking on stage, from May 16th at Basement Theatre.

Talkback radio’s favourite acid-tongued advicemongers are making the leap from the airwaves to the stage for the most noble of reasons; charity, helping those in society who really can’t, or can’t be bothered, to help themselves. The ladies of Waikeria Prison are the lucky recipients of this advice; advice that’s sometimes hard to hear, but it’s always the truth that hurts most. Ngaire and Naureen pull no punches – unless that huckmole Maisy Smith’s involved. She deserves everything she gets, and that includes a facefull of Ngaire’s fist. Drawing on real life experiences, writer and actor Samuel Christopher and Mark Covich bring the stories of elderly women in rural New Zealand to life in a satirical, dark, hilarious comedy skewering Kiwi culture, celebrity, sex and death.

Samuel Christopher has recently been accepted to the prestigious new Actor’s Program, a school run by industry professionals, training the next generation of performers.  Sam’s credits include winning the 2010 Auckland Arts Festival Acting Award, for his performance as Ngaire Chambers in The Masculine Monologues.

Covich is also a well known comedic talent amongst local audiences, and the pair certainly make a dynamic team as they don their frocks, wigs and lippy, and take on the world of female crims, with plenty of dubious advice and oodles of gin at the ready.

“The Ngaire & Naureen Helpline Hour is without a doubt the funniest play I have been to in a long time. Samuel Christopher has tapped into a sense of nostalgic kiwiana to create characters that are both endearing and edgy. He walks the line without crossing it, and the results are hilarious. This is kiwi comedy at it’s finest.”

– TJ McDonald, Billy T Nominee, 2011

Everyone knows a Ngaire or a Naureen – in the tradition of Paul Henry, they’re just saying what everyone’s thinking, dear. You will love, hate, and love to hate Ngaire and Naureen.

Dates:  Wed 16 – Sat 19 May 2012, 10pm daily
Venue:  The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, City
Tickets:  Adults $20 Students $15*
              *presales only

Show:  50 minutes
Bookings:  0800 842 538 or


We laugh like silly school kids

Review by Adey Ramsel 17th May 2012

Hmmm, not sure where this one’s going. Or where it came from.  

I’m reminded of Blackadder’s line: “It started off badly, it tailed off a little in the middle and the less said about the end the better – but apart from that it was excellent.”

Samuel Christopher has written a play about two elderly women, played by Christopher and Mark Covich, who are giving an ‘inspirational’ talk to the inmates of the Waikeria Women’s Prison. Their talk consists of eight points on how not to re-offend when they – the inmates – are released.

There’s always a danger of giving an audience a timer by which they can see how long they have to sit for, i.e. eight points are going to be spoken about. After point five I am wishing for point eight.

However… if a general point of comedy is to make people laugh – if you like one-liners that are racist, sexist, take swipes at celebrities, those disadvantaged, sex, death and everything in between; and it seems we do – then, as Blackadder does observe, “…it was excellent.”

Christopher has taken no prisoners when it comes to choosing his victims or topics. Everything gets a slap, from Rachael Hunter to Downs Syndrome, but it can best be described as a collection of loose gags and insults, hardly the ‘play’ it’s billed as.

Covic is the more convincing as Naureen, actually coming pretty damn close to the classic ‘men in drag’ comic creations of times gone by, whilst Christopher himself seems to not only struggle with character but timing, which I’ll put down to finding the script’s feet on opening night. Although a plus point in the script and character, both credited to Christopher, is the stoned Ngaire towards the end.

There are some inspired moments (Rachael Hunters appearance) but some that don’t seem to come off (the fashion parade for one) and more than once the script takes the pair to places that seem out of place, stilted and random.

The slapstick at times seems rushed, obvious and embarrassing, making the introduction of Anoushka Klaus as vengeful inmate Pakipaki Henare a breath of fresh air. It’s a pity she wasn’t introduced earlier on and used more as contrast to the two old birds.

If the intention is to use this as a play then it needs more to hang itself on; the structure is too loose. As a comedy performance it is too ‘theatrical’; the mind needs to be made up where this show is going and stick to one or the other. As it is I’m sure the duo will build on their strengths, taking their cues from each new audience as to what does and doesn’t work.

But, again, however… we do all laugh like silly school kids at the one-liners, (my personal favourite being Naureen’s final line) so maybe a straight comedy double act may work better with a thread tied up amongst the gags. There is something there and others next to me screamed for the entire 50 minutes, relishing the chance to laugh at the un-PC of it all, which is always worth the ticket price alone.  


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