Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

05/11/2014 - 15/11/2014

Gilded Balloon, Edinburgh, Scotland

06/08/2016 - 29/08/2016

Edinburgh Fringe 2016

Production Details


Tim Carlsen’s award-winning One Day Moko opens 5 November at Q Theatre 

An award-winning New Zealand play will get a new life this November as part of Q Theatre’s Q Presents season. 

One Day Moko, devised and performed by Tim Carlsen (Once on Chunuk Bair, Love You Bro), is a one-man show about cheeky, charming and churlish ‘urban cowboy’ Moko, who lives on the streets of Auckland.

K’Rd is Moko’s turf, with its strip clubs, karaoke bars, mean-as kebab joints and staunch bouncers. He sees everyone and everything, while scoring half–smoked ciggies from the gutter. 

Inspired by real encounters with people living on the streets of Auckland and Wellington, One Day Moko, directed by Leo Gene Peters (Strange Resting Places), investigates how rebellion, opportunity and routine shape our lives. Carlsen brings Moko to life, along with the many characters he meets in his often fantastical world.

Carlsen’s research included working as a volunteer at Catacombs drop-in and the Compassion Soup Kitchen (Wellington) and the Auckland City Mission, he played on a homeless football team and participated in the Mission’s drama group.

The show had its premiere season in 2011 to much celebration. Thanks to the Q Presents programme, a reimagined version of the play that earned Carlsen the 2012 Chapman Tripp award for Best Newcomer will play 5-15 November at Q Theatre’s Loft.

Q Presents is a partnership programme that helps New Zealand performing artists create and develop work by providing production, marketing and technical support – a platform for their work to be shown. Q Presents supports the artist in making the transition from ‘emerging’ to established practitioner.

“As a theatre maker, opportunities to present work on a mainstage don’t come around every day, let alone a chance to further develop a piece and present it for a second season, so I’m very grateful to Q Presents for this opportunity,” Carlsen said.


In an effort to bring the magic of theatre to the widest possible audience, Tim Carlsen has introduced a new ticket-share system, called The Moko Effect. Ticket buyers simply add $10 to their booking and a gift ticket will be offered to the Auckland City Mission or Nga Rangatahi Toa allowing people who may not otherwise have the chance to experience theatre to come and see One Day Moko.

5-15 November 2014
7:30pm Tue-Sat / 6:30pm Sun 
Ticket price:  $30-$35 (service fees apply) / $20 Preview / $10 tickets donated to Auckland City Mission & Nga Rangatahi Toa
– See more at: 
Tickets are on sale now at 

Edinburgh Festival Fringe 2016
Gilded Balloon Teviot (Venue 14)
Aug 6-14, 16-21, 23-29
Book here

Theatre , Solo ,


As touching and thought-provoking as it is entertaining

Review by Acushla-Tara Kupe 06th Aug 2016

I’ve been looking forward to seeing this show for many reasons: it will be my first show of the Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2016, I missed all of its various incarnations in New Zealand, and the imagery is beautiful: I am a sucker for a good poster. So needless to say expectations are running high by the time I pick up my ticket and queue up outside the Gilded Balloon.  

We are introduced to Moko, our companion and narrator for the evening, at the door. Sitting on the floor and wrapped in a blanket, his singing is broken up with greetings, ‘Kia Ora’, ‘Hello’, ‘Good to see you’. Over the next hour Moko’s stories and observations of the people and places of his world entrance the petite audience.

It isn’t a show we sit and watch passively, nor is it a dramatic retelling of a particular story; it is like we have been invited to just be with Moko. What he shares with us feels unique, like a friend sharing their day, and gives the sense that were you to come another night you might experience a completely different conversation. It is this method of storytelling, true and raw, that keeps every audience member engaged throughout the piece. The immediacy and conversational feeling is highlighted as Moko asks the audience for song requests between his stories and complies, whether or not he knows the song or lyrics.

As much as the show doesn’t try to be a social commentary about homelessness and the people who occupy this demographic, it is hard not to project this on to the piece. We are watching a poorly dressed man, surrounded by the articles that usually accompany homelessness, experiencing his daily rituals. Although at times the interactions, conversations and stories feel familiar there are moments throughout that are indeed rather foreign. They remind us of the day-to-day challenges someone like Moko faces. It is a gentle tap on the shoulder, reminding the audience of struggles we already know exist but either don’t understand or have, intentionally or not, forgotten about.   

One particular moment that stands out for me is Moko’s observation of Henry, a man who during his lunch break sits at a park bench “with his Tesco sandwich on one knee and his cellphone on the other” never looking up. It is a scene we are all familiar with and one that most of us participate in on a regular basis. As Moko describes the surroundings and people walking by, missed by Henry as he continues to scroll and swipe, he longs to tell Henry to “look up bro, look up bro and see the beautiful woman and beautiful day”. It is a unique perspective shared with us and one that seems to exist due to Moko’s own situation. 

As Moko, Tim Carlsen oozes charm and charisma. For the 60 minutes he occupies the stage, Carlsen performs with such honesty and authenticity it is impossible to look away. He works expertly with the audience to create content, lighting states, character, and before long we are just as much a part of this world as Moko is.

Carlsen’s technical ability enhances the beauty of his performance as well. The way he works with the audience, one that at times holds their tongues when asked to participate, really speaks to his craft. Even when the soundtrack from a previous scene invades a poignant moment, he remains unruffled, and we remain captivated. Carlsen delights with soulful singing and truthful storytelling, all the while remaining comprehensible with a heavy accent throughout.

With devised work it is hard to discern what can be specifically attributed to the director. In this incarnation of One Day Moko every element works together effectively and Leo Gene Peters’ imaginative style comes through loud and clear, enhancing different moments throughout the show. 

The design aspects of the show are high-quality low-fi, something I have come to realize New Zealand shows tend to do very well. The set consists of items you expect to see surrounding homeless people: cardboard boxes, blankets, a shopping trolley, with the addition of things Moko has brought into the space to help tell his story: several small cassette player/radios, a couple of lamps and a beautifully utilized water bottle.

The costume adds to the believability of Moko: a distressed hoody, old track pants and well-worn sneakers. Lighting again supports the overall design of the show with the use of torches, lamps and existing house lights, all operated by Moko with some assistance from the audience.

The space itself is a large room not usually intended as a theatre and with its shoddy blacks and makeshift seating arrangement it suits the aesthetic of the show perfectly. The sound design is simple and impeccably executed with several radios on stage playing tracks to portray various environments and the dialogue of other characters. The simplicity suits both the show and the moments in which it is used.

One Day Moko is as touching and thought-provoking as it is entertaining. For those of you that are in Edinburgh during this year’s Fringe Festival I would highly recommend going along to experience your own conversation with Moko. Genuine, honest, raw and not to be missed! 


Editor August 6th, 2016

See Three Weeks in Edinburgh interview with Tim Carlsen here.

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Street from the heart – an affecting take on inner-city lives

Review by Janet McAllister 10th Nov 2014

This enjoyable, artful jumble starts with a fun stand-up comedy set from a lively homeless guy, Moko, who banters with the audience. He says he wants Jesus to turn up – a reference to Jesus Christ Superstar one floor below. “He’s busy,” shouts a punter. “Tell me about it, bro!” says Moko, quick as a flash. 

He responds magically to a wide variety of song requests before turning into a storyteller. The hour is less “about” homelessness, and more about city lives as seen through the eyes of a character who happens to be homeless. 

Affecting tales of others’ frustration and loneliness – and reports of Moko’s own more immediate, physical dangers – are mixed with amusing fantasies of suburban unicorn trees and home(less)-spun, upbeat Pollyanna philosophies. (More)


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Homeless anti-hero

Review by Nik Smythe 06th Nov 2014

We enter the Q Loft from the street entrance, appropriately.  Sitting slouched by the door, our eponymous anti-hero greets us individually with a disconcertingly direct “Ay Bo, howzit goin’?!” in the strung-out manner of a career vagrant looking for any kind of connection with anyone who’ll listen. 

The set is wide open, scattered with boxes, blankets, towels and assorted clutter, along with a shopping trolley stuffed with crap and half a dozen or so ghetto blasters.  The large black rear curtains are partly open, exposing the large iron framed textured windows and the buildings of midtown Queen Street beyond. 

Eventually Moko rises, closes the curtains, and addresses us en masse to enquire whether we have “any requests at all?”.  Someone asks for Billy Joel’s ‘Uptown Girl’, which he belts out passionately with not inconsiderable vocal power and skill, as he does with a number of other randomly suggested pop songs. 

Sometimes he knows the words, sometimes he makes them up, sometimes he sings a completely different one.  Invariably each song trails off or abruptly stops with a sudden change of tack.  Between requests he asks where people are from, with something to say about anywhere people name – his Uncle Bruce’s Glenfield Cheese shop, the notorious Papatoetoe snakes, the little-known tunnel between Britomart and Waiheke Island. 

I first encountered Moko three years ago when Tim Carlsen brought his gruff but likeable lisping derelict creation to the Basement (reviewed here). Still clad in what could almost be the same tatty sneakers, bop pants and hoody, it seems in the intervening time he’s become somewhat more articulate and confident, with an impressive command of his intrigued audience.  

I recall the 2011 production being more immersive, drawing us into his world.  This time, with the directorial guidance of Leo Gene Peters, Moko’s putting on a show for us, as though he saved up to hire this theatre to be the big star he used to dream about back then.  In a way the character is less believable as genuinely homeless; witnessing his evident talent in singing, not to mention his remarkable eloquence, one might wonder why this fellow is out on the street like he is, down but not out, always looking up.  Is he stuck here against his will or is it a lifestyle choice? 

Interestingly, Moko never discusses his own life, how he came to be where we find him today or what his personal hopes and dreams might be.  Instead he regales us with poignant anecdotes about the numerous people he observes on his turf, telling us of their worlds, their plights, their intense inner turmoil.  The unhappy lovers, the browbeaten office worker, the struggling parent; all weighed down by everything they never express until it’s too late. 

Only a couple of times does his otherwise clear narration degenerate into guttural, incomprehensible ranting, indicating he’s not always as in command as he is with us here tonight. 

We get occasional brief glimpses into his own private existence when he hangs out watching TV with his fellow vagrants, and when he’s confronted at night by a policeman, played with unnerving conviction by a spontaneously cast audience member.  Even then, he seems to continually divert the conversation topic from himself.  Probably the closest we get to really knowing this homeless anti-hero is when he shares his profound existential philosophy, that “volatility is the key to success”; that to make it we have to “get out there and smash it!” 

As well as his substantially melodic vocal efforts, the sound design is operated entirely by Moko himself, utilising the various ghetto blasters to perform other character’s voices, musical background, traffic, rain and so on.  Similarly, switching lights on and off as desired, sometimes using a single torch and/or the city lights out the window, Moko controls the visual dynamics of the show as he does every other aspect. 

Undeniably an entertaining show, one wonders – as I did last time – how the real homeless community might receive this work; particularly whether the implication that there’s potential for satisfaction at any given level of society would be generally agreed with or dismissed as patronising propaganda designed to make us, in the comparatively privileged classes, feel less guilty. 

As it happens, people so moved have the opportunity to donate ticket costs for the local impoverished community to experience a special matinee performance, and a City Mission food bank is also set up in the foyer. 


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It’s all good – a gem

Review by Vanessa Byrnes 06th Nov 2014

In the Q Theatre loft, the fading light of Queen St peeps through ornate leadlight windows. It’s a refreshing reminder to look at things from a slightly altered perspective, and this solo show about homelessness and observation is a moving, sharp and totally believable show. 

Darkness descends and from his place sitting on the floor, Tim Carlsen starts the show as he means to go on, as the dispossessed Moko, improvising with the audience and using us as the essential ‘other’ characters. Amidst hope and despair this is a clever tactic to connect with something outside himself; to bring us into the observational and poetic drama that unfolds. “Where you from bro?” he asks one guy. “Oh tu meke! Do you know my uncle?” And later, “Do you know my Aunty? She’s with the Papatoe Snakes.” 

But the hoped-for connection is lost there. “It’s all good” becomes Moko’s diffuser, his security blanket. Carlsen turns this now over-used phrase of diffusion on its head as the show follows a day /night /day in the world of Moko. There are predators that lurk in the shadows. Clearly, it’s not at all ‘good’.

With the vocal tones of Richard Harris in Gladiator and a lisp that hints at an unattended upbringing, Moko takes requests from the audience for songs. It’s another way of finding connection with the world outside himself. The audience is an essential character here but true reciprocity is never really found. We are paying guests and the inequality of status is palpable and evident.

Carlsen’s timing is spot-on and he is totally present as Moko, as well as other characters who pop up long the way. Whether doing a rendition of a requested song or telling stories of other dwellers around K-Road, Moko becomes a contemporary Sage who unpicks elements of other people’s lives. This is the real sophistication of the piece, which has gone through several incarnations.

Carlsen is consummate in his navigation of this journey. A look of vacant desperation underlines Moko’s poetic nuances. His ‘guilty and pleasurable’ gaze of other people describes our own enjoyment of him. Moko hints at a family life ‘up north’ but we have to construct the reasons for his ending up in this place ourselves. Clues of mental disconnect are there, but no explanations. I like that.  

Although lacking in traditional dramaturgical structure – and in fact challenging the way a show ends with meta-theatrical sophistication (“I don’t know how to end it! I don’t know what to say. Endings scare the shit out of me!”) – the show’s merit is that it allows Moko to speak the innermost thoughts of other people he watches. Through this lens of observation, we can construct a picture of him, too.  

The play mixes hunger, fear and suspicion with an innocent desire to connect. Carlsen and director Leo Gene Peters (and Sophie Roberts directing previous versions of the show) have created an authentic piece of theatre that is a platform for Carlsen’s burning talent and Peters’/ Roberts’ strong direction. Simple, thought-provoking and mature, One Day Moko is a beautiful gem of a show – don’t miss it.


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