One By One

Maidment Theatre - Musgrove Studio, Auckland

01/08/2011 - 06/08/2011

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

26/02/2013 - 02/03/2013

Auckland Fringe 2013

Production Details

A silent show with live music and two characters in an almost-love story. 

LAB: Research Theatre Company is back to delight audiences with its dynamic ensemble acting, inventive direction and compelling storytelling.

One by One is an almost-love story. The tragic story of Bonnie and Marty endlessly missing each other until love emerges as an inevitable collision. The story unfolds in a succession of comedic situations as both characters deal with the struggle of not being able to have what they want the most.

One by One is a silent show with live music. The whole story is told by Katie Burson, Greg Padoa without the use of verbal language. This work can not be described as mime or physical theatre. It is just theatre in its simplest form.

LAB: Research Theatre Company is a permanent acting laboratory directed by Pedro Ilgenfritz, created in 2009, engaged in the research of actors’ training and the creation of original theatre shows. We are proud to bring you our second production after the acclaimed Alfonsina (2010) and its successful seasons in Auckland (Musgrove Studio), Wellington and Dunedin Fringe Festivals and participating as a special guest at VERTICE 2010 – International Women in Theatre Festival in Brazil.

One by One
Musgrove Studio, University of Auckland
1st to 6th August – 8 pm
Matinee 6th August – 2 pm
Bookings: or (09) 308 23 83. Booking fees may apply.

Estimated running time: 70 minutes – No interval 


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

ONE BY ONE plays
26 February – 2 March, 7pm
Duration: 75 mins, no interval
Venue: Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, 50 Mayoral Drive, Auckland CBD
Tickets: Standard tickets: $25, Concession / groups 6+: $20, Children: $15 
Bookings:  or phone 09 357 3355 *Service fees apply 

“This team understands the value of pathos in comedy and their world view is compassionate, humane and realistic…”John Smythe, THEATREVIEW 

“Leaves audience members grinning from ear to ear, arguing as to whether it’s (Alfonsina) the best thing they’ve ever seen…” Caoilinn Hughes, THEATREVIEW

Creative Team 
Cast: Katie Burson (Bonnie and Greg Padoa (Marty) / Cole Jenkins - 2013 
Music: John Ellis and Mark Ingram 
Lighting Design: Joshua Bond 
Stage Manager: Ruby Reihana-Wilson 
Visual Designer: Leilani Heather    

1hr 10mins

Strength in numbers

Review by Matt Baker 01st Mar 2013

Two people meet at a particular place at a particular time, and things are irreversibly changed. This is, arguably, a primary necessity for dramatic action, and it is the premise of Lab Theatre’s production of One by One.

Director Pedro Ilgenfritz has clearly attained a wealth of knowledge regarding theatre during his 20-year career. A practitioner and lecturer who practices what he preaches, his biography concisely illustrates his approach to the work: [More


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A refined work of untainted, childlike purity

Review by Nik Smythe 27th Feb 2013

Even before the performers enter, the abstract spatial duotone of set /costume /props designer Rachel Walker’s black and white set design is already preparing our minds for the odd little world of the ensuing tale.  It (the set) is essentially black, with two white square stools and a long white bench, plus the striking and intriguing effect of a number of white stripes across the floor that rise up as separate ribbons at the rear, all on different angles and crossing over each other. 

To our right on the stage is a busy looking collection of instruments, shortly to be employed by two veteran musicians: Nigel Gavin, and musical director John Ellis.  From their opening slow, tender piano refrain the duet is on task, punctuating every scene and gesture with their accomplished and eclectic aural stylings.

Upon said refrain a distinctly sad, pretty girl with long brown hair, dress and woolly hat in pale earth tones that subtly contrast with the colourless set, enters and sits mournfully on the bench.  Next a skinny, spiky-blond lad in check shirt and stripy vest (daring!), pale green pants and white sneakers, swaggers on looking pretty pleased with himself. When he spots the girl his life is changed forever.

Under the sure hand of director Pedro Ilgenfritz, the company clearly shares a passion for telling stories at the most basic level of the human condition where hearts are worn on the sleeve, and even states of confusion or indecision appear oddly clear-cut. 

Katie Burson is equally comical and pitiable as the anxious apple of her avid suitor’s eye: sad, wounded, easier to worry and confuse than she is to please.  In contrast Cole Jenkins encapsulates all the determination, optimism, humour and fragility of your typical young man in love.

On reading the programme later on I note these wretched would-be romantic characters have names – Bonnie and Marty – which are not revealed in the play; nor do they need to be.  The only words ever indicated in the entire voiceless creation are in the evidently bad news given in the girl’s secret letter.

From time to time the plucky duo not only break the fourth wall, they climb right through it to enter our space and occasionally even drag audience members back into theirs for some charming interactive shenanigans.  They’re also not above breaking the side walls either, cueing the versatile musicians to alter the current score to styles that befit their immediate wont, as though having a deferential live soundtrack to one’s life was normal as choosing an outfit to wear. 

Eschewing the more standard driving-narrative approach where you get the point and move on, Bonnie and Marty, and John and Nigel, take their time to let us realise the complexity beneath the simple surface.  For the most part they are pitch perfect, though there are a couple of poignantly still/slow moments of pathos that I feel run a little too long.

Nonetheless – and my ten year old son agrees – in this crazy modern world of cynical, sleazy, post-post modernism, it’s a welcome refreshment to observe a refined work of such untainted, childlike purity. 


Hi all, due to an accident with one of our performers we have had to cancel tonights show (wed 27th). If you have a ticket booked for tonight, The Edge will be in contact with you about transfering your ticket to another night. The plan is to resume the show tomorrow night as scheduled. Thanks to everyone for the support 🙂


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Totally entrancing entertainment, enlightenment and ecstasy

Review by Lexie Matheson 03rd Aug 2011

Every now and again something comes along that’s just that little bit special. One by One is one of those things. These ‘special things’ often put other special things – and sometimes frighteningly mundane things – into perspective and One by One also does that. Well, it did for me.

It made me think more laterally than I have in recent times about the art of making theatre, the curious interface between actor and audience and how this association evolves and adapts, the universality of ‘language’ and, of course, the role of the reviewer in this gruesomely fantastical jumble. [See further discussion on this below.]

Seriously though, it is worth thinking about just who the whole theatre package is designed for. In the case of One by One the answer is clearly and exclusively the audience as both recipient and participant. None of that ‘we’re just doing it for ourselves and you can watch if you like’ rubbish here. No sense of the fourth wall.

One by One is work totally without ego, work that engages with its audience and with itself, work that titillates and plays, that clowns around, sits on laps, dances with strangers, toots, tweats, crashes and tinkles – and thoroughly entertains. More to the point, perhaps, it knows exactly what it’s doing on every step of the journey.

The great Guardian critic Michael Billington said, “Why do we go to the theatre? What are we seeking? Everyone, obviously, has his or her private answer. Many people are simply looking for what playwright John McGrath once called ‘A Good Night Out’. Others are devotees who approach theatre with the fervent enthusiasm of a stamp collector. In the end, I suspect, we are all looking for a combination of the three E’s: Entertainment, Enlightenment and Ecstasy.”

One by One provides, quite beautifully, all three. It exists on its own, doesn’t need explanation, doesn’t explain itself, it just unravels with delicacy and tenderness like a good yarn should. Like all such simplicity it is sustained by integrity, talent, knowledge, education, training and love.

One by One tells the story of Bonnie and Marty who meet, fall in love, experience laughter and tragedy and take us along for this most human of rides. The programme tells us that they “embark on an adventure through self-knowledge, denial, desire, deception, trust, love and understanding of the meaning of life through its ultimate reality.” To add that it takes 70 minutes and that there is never a dull moment will suffice for plot – no spoilers here.

Director Pedro Ilgenfritz (Alfonsina) has fulfilled a dream “to create a theatre spectacle where words do not yet exist. Where the gesture, the intention, the rhythm, the sustaining, the economy of physical means are all combined giving birth to a rich text. Yes,” he says, “we do have a text – and it is all in the action.”

He’s right as this is a narrative without words, without conventional language, and as such he places it wherever you might want it to be. For me it was Paris or maybe Dublin because these were the places I had seen works not dissimilar before. For others it could have been somewhere else and this constructivist approach locks the work into each audience member’s own experience thereby personalising it and allowing for a subtle and unique ownership of the piece.

Ilgenfritz lists his influences as Copeau, Meyerhold, Stanislavski, Artaud, Brecht and “the poetic work of clowns” and, being Brazilian, it’s probably fair to suggest there’s a smattering of Boal and even L’École Internationale de Théâtre Jacques Lecoq in there as well, as the clown work in One by One is rich in tradition and superbly stylish. 

Ilgenfritz has chosen to inform his narrative with music, a dimension provided most effectively by Mark Ingram on guitar (with lots of lovely vibrato) and a few percussion things and John Ellis on a variety of keyboards, saxophones, percussion and flute. They provide more than just a backing track and are integral to the success of the work interacting freely with the actors and the audience with a modish ease. This facet of the show further expanded the universality of the narrative with the players sounding at times like Gerry Mulligan in the 1950’s or Ry Cooder with a touch of Tex Mex. Each actor has a series of thematic riffs that identify them and the musicians track through these in a seemingly effortless, and often witty, manner.

Bonnie is played by award winning actor Katie Burson. Burson has worked with Ilgenfritz before, has trained in a range of performance styles and has star quality written all over her. While the play is about both characters it’s fair to say that the principle driver of the narrative is Bonnie. All the tag points are to do with her. Burson has a delightful colt-like physicality that fills the stage and, like all good clowns, she can turn her emotions from laughter to pain in a nanosecond. 

Marty is played by Greg Padoa who, like Burson, trained at UNITEC and has worked with Ilgenfritz before. I suspect this has been an advantage for both actors as they have also worked together in everything from Shakespeare, Gorky and Thornton Wilder to improvised student works and the easy rapport and trust that has built between them is evident throughout. Each already has a respectable track record which bodes well for them for the future and for our continued pleasure as audience.

Individually they ooze style and confidence. Together they totally entrance.

Without the burden of the ‘verbals’, each actor draws on an expansive and expressive physicality and assortment of story-telling skills that simply delight, and never better than during the chases through and over the audience or when engaging with individual audience members. This can be a cheap tool in less skilled hands but in the hands of these two it was a simple delight.

One by One is, on the surface, a simple tale of love and loss but beneath that facade is a deep understanding of the traditions that underlie the style and a respect for them that is complete. The result is an enthralling, laugh-filled evening interspersed with moments of deep sadness and rip-roaring, knockabout physical fun performed by two fantastic young actors, directed by a master of his art and supported by two highly skilled professional musicians. There are moments that are truly funny and the overall impression left is one of delicacy and tenderness.

A fabulous, and somewhat unexpected, pearl performed at the Musgrove Studio which itself is to be found in the oyster that is The University of Auckland. Long may it remain so.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – –

[Further thoughts on the role of context, the critic and review:]

It is after all, as some anonymous nautical creature said recently, “all about [me].” It’s not, of course, it’s all about ‘it’.

So what role does the person have who takes pleasure in this engaging work like everyone else, then goes away and writes about it? What is a review and what is the reviewer’s function – and who does this person write for? This may seem a strange cul-de-sac to have roamed down while watching an excellent piece of theatre but this particular piece engages on so many levels that it doesn’t really seem like a surprise at all. A play performed for everyman (and woman) by everyman (and woman) would, of course, be written about in a review designed for – you guessed it – everyman (and woman).

That [was] by way of preamble – or maybe pre-ramble if you don’t like context or talk about cause and effect. Some don’t, despite the prime function of any theatre work being to take those participating on a journey, a journey designed to change the lives of those who partake of the magic theatre potion (or are shot by the magic theatre bullet). Some people, bless them, just like to be pragmatic.

There’s a serious comment in there, though, and that is that reviews are written for everyone who might want to read them, now and in the future. They have a shelf life of centuries and a half life of eons whether we like it or not. They‘re not just written for the participants and their friends or even the industry. Reviews, like this wonderful performance work, are there for everyone. For this, if for no other reason, context can, and should, inform understanding.
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.


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