Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

10/11/2015 - 14/11/2015

Production Details

YOU ARE INVITED TO LAUREN’S 1ST BIRTHDAY PARTY! Food, Fun and a punch in the nuts!  

Extended from Bryony’s original 3rd year Toi solo it’s been 8 years since the first outing of this piece. Same heart but different. More characters! More food! More fun!

Bryony Skillington graduated from Toi Whakaari NZ Drama School in 2007, since then she has worked extensively in Wellington theatre and Television. Her TV credits include: ‘Shortland Street’, ‘Emu’, ‘Paradise Café’, and ‘The Investigator’.

She is currently Filming for a new Feature Film called the ‘Rehearsal’ due for release next year.

Recent Theatre debuts include Lucy the Karaoke Bar Manager in Silo’sThe Blind Date Project’, Kelly Tarlton in ‘Hauraki Horror’ and Jacky Gien in ‘Not Psycho’.

Recently Bryony moved to Auckland to further her career and focus on creating work that gives back to communities in which she draws her stories.

Ahi Karunaharan is a new exciting up and coming Director who runs his own festival through his production company Agaram. He recently work shopped his new play Laksanakan in London with Tamasha and Tara Arts based on the Bali 9. He has also recently started his own festival through his theatre company Agaram called the south Asian Writers Festival.

For this process he will be mentored by Silo’s very own Sophie Roberts. Sophie has a close working relationship with both Bryony and Ahi as they were all at Toi Whakaari together in the 3 year BPA course 2007.

Northern Glow is a promenade theatre piece where the audience will be taken on an all immersive journey, experiencing a real Northern English kids party with real food to eat, party games, dancing and like all good English parties, it would be nothing without a splash of drama to really get the emotions fizzing.

The Basement will appear like never before.  Darkness can lurk behind ever door and this one is no different. Good old English party food, Party Punch, musical chairs, big laughs and a hard kick in the nuts. It’s all fun and games… Until it’s clearly not.

Then we will send you into the cold with a goodie bag of life and treats.

Working Class Productions aims to utilize theatre as a medium to raise awareness about social issues.

Bryony Skillington creates an extremely well-judged portrait in Northern Glow: After Party. Her ‘Northern Girl’ is totally believable and also very funny. The text is witty and draws the audience eliciting big laughs from her list of ’10 reasons that cake is good’. The tone of the work darkens gradually to a simple but brilliant reveal that I can’t believe I didn’t see coming. – Thomas La Hood, Theatreview 2007

Basement Theatre
10-14 November 7pm
$18-$20 Studio/Dressing room/ Bar
Limited seating so get in quick!
Book tickets via iTICKET link below : 

*Fundraiser Performance 5pm 14th November – All proceeds donated to Women’s Refuge

Theatre , Solo ,

Bryony Skillington

Review by Matt Baker 14th Nov 2015

If you’ve been to Basement Theatre recently, you may have noticed a few changes around the studio door. A car back seat, a toilet, and some graffiti are just a few of the components to set designer Tim Booth’s* refurbishing for Northern Glow, a mini three-act one-woman show that introduces us to the members of a working class North England family.  Written and performed by the chameleonic Bryony Skillington, there’s Darren, who’s running the bingo and petitioning to save jobs at the mill, Lauren, the birthday girl who’s running the show, and Jill, the long-suffering wife and mother respectively. 

Broken into three scenarios, each separated with enough time to get to the bathroom and grab another pint, the night starts off with a bit of light entertainment in the Basement bar, before we are encompassed by even more of Booth’s design in the studio. [More]


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Outstanding immersive theatre

Review by Nik Smythe 11th Nov 2015

Developed from her original 2007 Toi Whakaari 20 minute solo project, Northern Glow is a subjective recreation of writer/performer Bryony Skillington’s North-England childhood home, circa late 80s-early 90s.  Going beyond now-conventional fourth wall breaking, we are actual guests at the first birthday of Jill and Darren’s youngest daughter Lauren. 

Directed by Ahi Karunaharan, Skillington portrays three key family members in three successive, tonally distinct acts.  The immersive experience begins in the bar with a cheerful Darren, boiler-suit clad miner with a Johnny Vegas accent, convening the crowd to host a quick game of bingo for the grand prize of a free drink at the bar. 

Speeding things along since he’s got his precious girl’s aforementioned party to get back to, he still takes the time to chat a little and draw our attention to his petition to stop the impending closure of his place of employment.  Game won, everyone’s led around to the outer entrance of the family’s late Thatcher-era Northern British tenement.

I infer from Phil Welsh’s programme credit as ‘Set graphic designer’ that he is responsible for the extensive distressing of the corridor and stairway, complete with defaced eviction notices and pornographic graffiti. Meanwhile the studio space itself is nothing short of an epic and award-worthy achievement in four-dimensional set design by Tim Booth, transporting us to a nicely appointed lounge handsomely decked out for the party. 

Despite the family’s unglamorous neighbourhood and unapologetically plebeian demeanours, they’re clearly house-proud what with rugs, lampshades, cosy furniture, nice pictures in frames on the wall (including the requisite Charles-and-Di portrait, essential to any self-respecting working class British home).  Plus they have a TV, VHS player, stereo and an Amiga 500 with Lemmings so things aren’t as bad as they could be. 

Lauren the birthday girl’s five-year old big sister Milly has assigned herself the role of party host, proudly showing off the lounge, the computer, her pink onesie with the yellow duckling sewn on, her auntie Flo’ manning the stereo and her Nana who made all the grub.  The dining and coffee tables are loaded with crisps and onion dip, pizza slices, sausage rolls and other common party condiments, and loads of them – one could realistically skip dinner and have it during the middle act of this show.

Milly’s self-appointed duties include making sure everyone’s eating something, especially the vegetarians she’s determined to feed responsibly, and running the party games which she does with capricious alacrity.  There’s a sense she’s had some experience calling the shots and commanding people to her bidding; a right working-class princess she is. Throughout the scene the audience chat with her and among ourselves, some expressing beguiled uncertainty as to whether this is it, and if so exactly what it is. 

The lead-in and content of the third and final act cannot be properly described without spoiling the spontaneity inherent in the production’s ingeniously osmotic format.  Bryony’s third character is Jill the bloated, boozed-up mum, seemingly angry with everyone and everything except her children on whom she dysfunctionally dotes.  We aren’t so much involved during her despondently droll soliloquy; more flies on the wall as she rants sardonically, spluttering to the disturbingly ironic conclusion. 

Narrative-wise there is much to unpack.  With zero forced exposition, every clue and detail is provided in the characters’ innate behaviour as each scene plays out naturally to inform the next.  The entire company deserves accolades for this outstanding achievement in immersive theatre, none more so than Bryony Skillington both for her conceptual vision and her willingness to share a warts-and-all portrait of the joy and desperation, the comedy and the tragedy of the disenfranchised lifestyle of her own childhood.


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