No. 2

The Pumphouse Theatre, Takapuna, Auckland

01/04/2009 - 11/04/2009

Production Details


"No. 2 is a subtle, humanistic and engaging piece of new theatre. Sami takes our breath away with the sheer cleverness and athleticism of her performance.’ – Mark Brown, Scotland on Sunday

Ground-breaking, globe-trotting, venturing unchartered paths for New Zealand Theatre. The modern classic No. 2 returns to our shores – the North Shore to be exact –  from Thursday April 2nd reuniting the two people for whom the production propelled their careers; Toa Fraser and Madeleine Sami.

Provoked by the need to celebrate a way of life before it vanishes, Toa Fraser created a touching observation of the raucous joy, shifting dynamics and the chaos that only an extended family knows. At a family feast, Nanna Maria intends to name "No. 2"; her successor.

Following critical acclaim and capacity attendance across the country, solo performaner Madeleine Sami jet-setted across the world, taking the nine characters she shifts between to audiences in Holland, Jamaica, Mexico, Edinburgh, London and New York. The production greeted further acclaim, landing a prestigious Fringe First in 2000. Sami’s image was splashed all over newspapers and magazines including influential UK broadsheets The Independent and The Observer.

Fraser developed No. 2 into a hit film, shot in Mount Roskill during the glorious summer of 2005. Starring Ruby Dee, Mia Blake and Rene Naufahu, it won the World Dramatic Audience Award at the 2006 Sundance Film Festival. Fraser has since gone on to direct the stellar cast of Sam Neill, Jeremy Northam and eight-time Academy Award nominee Peter O’Toole, in his second feature, Dean Spanley. "A delightful, oddly moving film, immaculately acted," according to The Observer’s Philip French; it was named the Film of the Year by GQ magazine.

Both Silo Theatre and The PumpHouse Theatre acknowledge that there is a great canon of NZ writing which remains completely undiscovered to new generations of audience. In recent years, Silo Theatre has been widely acclaimed for its reinvestigation of this work, most notably with Fraser’s debut work, Bare.

Marking the tenth year anniversary of No. 2, the PumpHouseTheatre are delighted to be bringing back Silo Theatre’s production of this quintessential piece of NZ theatre, reuninting Sami and Fraser. The PumpHouse have also included a matinee performance for a schools audience giving a new generation of theatre goers the opportunity of experiencing No.2 in its original form trading the lights of the silver screen for the intimate spotlight of theatre.

"…an expertly performed, glorious piece of theatre..." – The Scotsman

NO. 2 plays 
Wednesday 1 April – Saturday 11 April – 8pm (6:30pm on the 7th and 8th of April)
Sunday 5th- 2pm Matinee
Preview night – April 1st – 8pm

To Book Tickets please call (09) 489 8360 or visit
Tickets – $25 – $45 (plus booking fees)



lighting design            :  JEREMY FERN
project management:  JOSH HYMAN
technical operation:  JO KILGOUR

photography:  AARON K

Must see classic - magic is the word

Review by Nik Smythe 02nd Apr 2009

There’s standing room only in the Pumphouse’s 200 seat auditorium.  Presumably many of us are here to revisit this mightily historic collaborative work of writer Toa Fraser and actor Madeleine Sami which debuted 10 years ago when we were all ten years younger.  People must be wondering if it’s changed much in that time, also considering Fraser’s rather different film version of 2006. 

Yet the general mood is not one of urgent expectancy or fevered anticipation; more an atmosphere of relaxed confidence.  Everyone calmly ambles in, chatting pleasantly about their day, no hurry.  When the play begins on Pacific time, at least 10 minutes late, the lights fade down and the crowd shuts up.

It’s the same play, to the delight and satisfaction of an audience who rose during the curtain call in one of the most spontaneous and genuine standing ovations I’ve ever witnessed.  The only discernable changes are a few updates Fraser’s trademark contemporary references, which serve to draw laughter of recognition from the audience.   

Nana Maria wakes up at four in the morning and declares to her 2nd grandson Erasmus, just home from his night job, her intention to name her successor at a feast this very evening, to which all her grandchildren and none of her children are invited. 

The whole generation is rallied by the staunch ‘Mus’: hardworking, long suffering eldest daughter Charlene; pretty, self-obsessed bimbo Hibiscus; scrappy young gangster Soul; favourite son Tyson, player of rugby and girls; and Moses the youngest, about eight years old and Nana Maria’s most trusted advisor.  She invites only one ‘outsider’, Father Francis, because the feast is to be like the ones in Sicily where a priest is always present.  And there is to be one more unexpected guest…  

Fraser’s highly appealing script shows us a family that still celebrates many of the vices which are strongly advertised against today – smoking, heavy drinking, fighting.

Many factual points aren’t clarified, e.g. regarding Nana Maria’s own children and exactly why they’re not welcome, or why Charlene and Moses live with her and not their own parents.  Nor is it really disclosed everything that being the successor will actually entail.  Such details aren’t required, in fact the absence of them suggests a deep history too complex to begin to evoke.

Though Madeleine Sami is but one lean, attractive female actor, I believe the majority of the crowd will attest to having witnessed nine distinct and believable characters using nothing more than her body, face, and voice.  Assisted by the extremely minimal design of John Verryt and Jeremy Fern (one chair and a subtly effective series of lighting changes), Sami displays a practically superhuman talent for eclectic characterisations that goes far deeper than mere caricature. 

No. 2 is a must see classic, in the running for finest ever NZ theatre experiences.  Magic is the word.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 



John Smythe April 6th, 2009

Shane Bosher (Artistic Director of Silo Theatre) advises as follows:
There is no director attached to this new production. Catherine Boniface directed the original production in 1998, but Madeleine has since refined, shifted and changed the production quite markedly over the course of her many years touring the work nationally and internationally. We credit all of the original production collaborators in the programme: Catherine Boniface, Katrina Chandra, Sharyn Duncan and Deborah McKeen.

Jason April 3rd, 2009

The show is an absolute must see for anyone interested in contemporary NZ theatre, and for those keen to see a true professional demonstrate their craft.
but it wasn't directed by Toa, it was with director Catherine Boniface. 

cameron rhodes April 2nd, 2009


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