Office Boy

The Classic Studio, 321 Queen St, Auckland

09/03/2009 - 21/03/2009

San Francisco Bathhouse, 171 Cuba St, Wellington

08/04/2008 - 12/04/2008

Auckland Fringe 2009

Production Details

Darren is a minute late for work on the day of his big seminar presentation. He still has a few finishing touches to put on, but his personal life keeps getting in the way! With the office party the night before, his best friend causing trouble on Facebook and an office romance going horribly wrong, the next hour at Darren’s desk will be nothing less than tragically hilarious!

Steve Wrigley is one of the five 2008 Billy T award nominees. He is a Wellingtonian born and bred, and unlike many other comic artists, has resisted the pull toward Auckland.

"The scene down here is still growing, and it’s awesome to be a part of it. Sure there is a great lure to go up north where there is a lot more work for a stand up comic, but my passions are split three ways… and wellington is the best place to explore them all."

Wrigley’s three passions being Stand Up Comedy, Improv, and Theatre.

"The Capital is just the best place to be doing all these things. Wellington is the funniest city in the country. Just look at the awards our people have won. Obviously the FOTC are Wellington born and bred, but Dai Henwood, Mrs Peacock, Brendhan Lovegrove, Ben Hurley, Cori Gonzales Macuer… all the last few years Billy T Award winners (One f the countries top comedy awards) and all from the 04 area code. And the Fred Award, a new award that honours the top of the comedy business, has been won by Dai and Brendhan."

There really is no denying that when it comes to comedy, Wellington is top of the pile. Wrigley now has two live shows on the slate. As well as the return of office boy, he has ‘The First Time’ in April/May as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival.

"It’s my first ever full hour of Stand Up Comedy. A real bench mark for any live comic performing world wide. It’s all material that centres around the ups and downs of first time experiences, yes there is the obvious drug and sex stuff, but some surprises also. I’m really looking forward to performing it. I’m planning quite a personal, and very funny show."

Along with return seasons in Welli on the cards, Wrigley also plans to tour the country. Office boy is all ready set to run in Auckland later this year, and a national tour is in the works. Wrigley also expresses plans to take it across the ditch.

"The Adelaide Fringe is right next door, so we will definitely be there with Office Boy next year. The show isn’t just about being in an office, we have tried to make it as much about a KIWI office as we can, it will be great to take that overseas. We also have plans to tour the massive Canadian Fringe later in 2009."

All ready a veteran of performing outside Gods own, Wrigley has appeared in London, New York and Canada as a stand up.

Wellington 2008
When: April 8 – 12th, 7pm
Where: The San Fran Bath House
How Much: $18.50 and $16conc   
Auckland 09
When: March 9 – 21, 7pm
Where: The Classic Studio, 321 Queen St
How Much: $22 and $18conc   

1 hr, no interval

Charmingly absurd sliver of life

Review by James Amos 10th Mar 2009

The Classic Studio is a lovely wee space, friendly and intimate and up a long flight of stairs. 

The seating is arranged around small tables each with its own computer display. "Great concept," I’m thinking, "but there’s no way these are all going, why have they bothered to plug them in?" 

Well ….

This show is basically a ‘slice of life’ and the life that’s ‘sliced’ is that of Darren Sanders. Darren, delightfully played by Wrigley, works at a toilet seat manufacturing company. He arrives one minute late for work and is preparing to give a big presentation.

I don’t want to give any of the plot away (partly because there really isn’t that much of it) but I can say there is a love interest, a mischievous best friend, an ex girlfriend and an adult DVD involved.  As his first hour at work progresses things go from bad to worse for poor old Darren.

Each of the extra characters is played by text message, reaction to imaginary telephone voices, silence, off-stage voices and pre-recorded messages. I love it because Wrigley manages to actually play only one character in a one man show! (Something I’ve not seen before – usually the actor will play several roles.)

The use of computer monitors is brilliant. At each of our tables we have a screen, which does go! and displays exactly what Darren can see on his screen. So as he boots up the machine and checks his email, we see it all happen.

As a bit of a geek myself I am very impressed by this and by the fake computer system that the company uses; a clever spoof of modern day proprietary computer systems and all the frustrations that go along with them.

This must have taken a huge amount of work to design and is absolutely integral to the show. We get to relive that feeling of retyping an email three or four times to try to make it sound just right, and the excessive use of the word LOL is classic – to have a room full of people in hysterics simply by typing something onto a screen seems to me so charmingly absurd!

What I really love about Wrigley’s performance though, is that he draws you in, he’s so easy to watch, so understated and so intimate (particularly when we get onto the "friendbook" video his mate has posted – very brave!). It was not what I expected form a boisterous stand up comedian.

As I said the play is a slice of life and at the end (which occurs somewhat abruptly) Darren’s Life goes on, leaving me thinking perhaps I am on a diet (with but a sliver). Many of the dilemmas set up are left un-resolved.

The duration is just under an hour, but it feels even shorter and leaves us wanting more. Something I certainly hope we will get from Mr Wrigley, sometime in the near future.


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Two good acts in search of a third

Review by John Smythe 13th Apr 2008

At last I made it to Steve Wrigley’s hit show Office Boy, directed by Charlie Bleakley, back from the Fringe for a brief return season at the San Francisco Bathhouse.

It’s a great, if rather impractical idea: seat your audience at computer monitors in a set-up that vaguely resembles an open plan office, then share the contents of the titular Office Boy’s screen as he, Darren Sanders, works through the first hour of a morning from hell at Crenshaw Toilet Seats.

Except when your show is successful and you have more than two or three punters trying to view each digital monitor (you know the ones where you have to be right in front to see it properly), the fringe-dwellers miss out on too much. It hampers unified laughter.

Here’s an idea: use a data show to project it onto a big screen behind the Boy’s workstation. Except if you did that, it would seem less novel; the medium would not be the ‘massage’ quite so much, and the basic requirement of good story structure would be more important. Not that it isn’t already.

As a stalwart of Theatresports – the long-form formats especially – Steve Wrigley is no stranger to the way stories work through the classic three-act structure. As the writer of Office Boy he applies most, but not all, of the core principles then lets himself down at the end.

Act One
The night before, of which this is the morning after, is well integrated as back-story into the present action via the dishevelled appearance of Darren (Wrigley), amplified phone calls from his supposed mate Keith, photos on ‘Faceplace’, ambivalent emails from Kirsty whose frock he decorated with utter ignominy …

The unravelling horror of all that collides, to good dramatic and comic effect, with his urgent need to upload and finalise the PowerPoint presentation he’s supposed to be giving to visiting managers at 09:25. And Mr Crenshaw looms over all as the unseen but all-seeing boss. Thus the exposition/set up phase is neatly crafted.

An accident with the memory stick, in which the presentation is stored, precipitates some good audience involvement (and serves as the turning point into act 2).

Act Two
As the question of budding romance arises between Darren and the enigmatic Kirsty, a phone call from a collection agency about an unreturned porn DVD reveals more about Darren and his past with ex-partner Vanessa, with whom he now shares a totally toxic relationship.

More ‘on-stage’ live action, emails, images, a chat-room revelation that Darren is a weekend wrestler, phone calls – including to his farmer mum – and off-stage encounters at reception combine to stir the comic pot and enrich the story’s mix. While all this would work even better if the stakes were higher around his presentation – i.e. if there was a reason he really wanted to succeed with it (because it’s rather wimpy as it stands) – it does play with conflict, generate tensions, and set up problems to be solved and reveal desires to be fulfilled, as all good act twos should.  

Act Three
Missing inaction. Instead of a turning point into the resolution phase, where all that has gone before conspires to produce a powerful ending (the aforementioned Theatresports formats are designed to achieve just that), we get a fire alarm and evacuation, with a side-alley post-script that’s more like the close of a stand-up show than the end of a dramatised comedy.

It’s a cop-out; a would-be joke in search of a punch-line; a shaggy dog story with no tail to wag. And that’s a great shame because Steve Wrigley’s compulsively self-destructive Darren is well established and compellingly played in an ingenious techno-context that has clearly been lovingly and meticulously developed by Wrigley and Bleakley (there was no printed programme so if others were involved, they have not been credited).

I hope Office Boy is developed further to play off all the set-ups and pay off all the investment. As with all good jokes, once the punch-line is perfected, what goes before can be refined accordingly. And hey, if an actress has to be added to play an actual rather than virtual Kirsty, so be it.


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