One Day Moko

BATS Theatre, Wellington

23/08/2012 - 01/09/2012

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

28/06/2011 - 02/07/2011

Production Details

One Man & His Dog Arrive at The Basement

After two years in development and input from one of the most celebrated theatre companies in the United States Tim Carlsen’s debut play ‘One Day Moko’ will take Auckland audiences into the unvarnished world of the homeless living in urban New Zealand on June 28th.

Meet Moko. He lives under a by-pass. His life fits in a trolley. Shunting along streets around town – he is a known sight. Eat, sleep, work, play – he’s got things to do and places to be. If you toured in Moko’s world, his haunts, his secret places, the known bridges or quiet benches – would you find this normal?

One Day Moko explores isolation, opportunity and routine – investigating how these qualities shape our everyday lives. Depicted through the cheeky, charming and churlish character of Moko: the homeless protagonist, and his interactions with a number of rich and diverse characters and environments – all met through a television screen.

24 year-old Carlsen began developing One Day Moko at Toi Whakaari the New Zealand National Drama school two years ago. During this time he worked In New York City with the acclaimed theatre company The Wooster Group, whose alumni and members include heavy hitters Steve Buscemi and Willem Defoe. Carlsen garnered not only support but also invaluable advice: “Performing parts of the show via Skype to the entire company was a highlight in the show’s development – from Wellington to New York City”. 

Research for the show included working as a volunteer at organizations such as Catacombs Drop-in and The Compassion Soup Kitchen (Wellington) and the Auckland City Mission. From homeless football games to participating in the Mission drama group, Carlsen was able to get an insight into the NZ homeless lifestyle and developed ties with a large range of homeless clients. “It was the simple things – cooking instant noodles, making cups of tea and watching T.V with a range of people that made me consider my own routine in life… and how this revealed universal habits that all human beings share.” 

Also on board is Award winning Director Sophie Roberts the co-Artistic Director of Almost a Bird Theatre Company, who in her short career has already garnished two Chapman Tripp Theatre awards. Tim will also star back to back for the rest of the year in Silo’s Theatre Companies I Love You Bro and their production of Tartuffe. Get used to seeing all the different faces of Auckland Theatre’s newest rising talent. 

With its unique incorporation of technology One Day Moko is a visceral experience that will instigate recognition, reflection and debate among those who see it. One Day Moko is a raw and inspirational story, not retreating from provocation, but demonstrating we all have a vagrant within.

One Day Moko plays:
28 June – 2 July 2011, 7.30pm
The Basement, Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD.
Tickets $25/20 from iTICKET EXPRESS. 

After a sell-out Auckland season, Tim Carlsen’s One Day Moko comes to Wellington this August taking audiences into the no-frills world of the homeless living in urban New Zealand. 

One Day Moko / 23 Aug – 1 Sep 2012, 6.30pm  

FULL $18, CONCESSION $14, (Bring a can of food to donate to the Wellington City Mission and receive a concession ticket!) 

Reality confronted

Review by Lynn Freeman 29th Aug 2012

One Day Moko lingers in the memory. So much so that you find yourself wondering what happened to the homeless Moko before we meet him, and what happens after he leaves us?

Tim Carlsen is captivating as Moko, the kind of guy most people would cross the street to avoid in ‘real life’. In a theatre, when confronted with some of the realities of homelessness, you can’t escape. Not that Carlsen preaches or judges.

Through interacting with a video and his own compelling performance, the writer/actor offers us one man’s story. We don’t know if the characters on the moving TV screen are real or in his imagination, but they are real to him and that’s what counts. 

Giving technology such a pivotal role in a play, especially a sparse solo production like this, can be dangerous. At times you can be a little too aware of the cleverness of the images over the hour long play. But these pass and you are quickly engrossed in Moko’s life once again. 

Carlsen is a genuinely remarkable actor. His eyes convey so much – Moko is in turns lost, present, happy, and very, very alone. He has though, an unquenchable spirit and a childlike belief that people will do the right thing by him. His needs are few. A can of heated cream corn and some burgers. A smile from a pretty girl and time on stage singing (wonderfully well) karaoke. Not much to ask. 


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Solo performance of heart and character a real treat

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 27th Aug 2012

Many shows have the theme of “a day in the life…” but few have a day as compelling as Moko, the main character in Tim Carlsen’s absorbing and enthralling one man show One Day Moko.  

Carlsen began developing One Day Moko at Toi Whakaari: New Zealand Drama School three years ago. He has had a sell-out season in Auckland and no doubt will have a sell-out season here in Wellington such is the calibre of the writing and the performance.  

Moko is one of the increasing numbers of homeless itinerants filling our streets, living under the by-pass by K Road, all his worldly possessions in a trolley. As he describes himself: “I’m an urban connoisseur, eh. Baked beans, karaoke and Spaghetti Westerns.”

He shuffles back and forth along the street, bent-over and hang-dogged, busking badly for a few coins, being hassled by the guy in MacDonald’s, trying to karaoke at night and sleeping.  He has plenty to do, he gets by but it’s a tough life. Not the sort of person you’d want to meet in a back alley. 

But in Carlen’s performance there is a humanity in Moko that makes him likable, even if scary at times.  And the empathy he develops for the character through his portrayal is amazing.  Roughly dressed, stooped, gnarled hands and an exceedingly expressive face, he is totally engaging. Charming but at times truculent, he is an independent spirit not to be pitied, and the way Carlsen presents Moko he is even to be admired.

As solo performances go with multiple characters, this production is unique in that Carlsen remains as Moko the whole time but interacts with a number of other characters he meets on the street all played by him, on a television screen that is part of his possessions.

The clever and innovative way this and a little tape deck, which becomes his dog, are used along with other props is quite remarkable and adds to the overall production, which under Sophie Roberts astute direction is both unique and original. 

This is the second standout solo performance currently playing in town, and like the other at Circa Two is not to be missed.


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Dramatised with skill and subtle precision

Review by John Smythe 24th Aug 2012

Tim Carlsen is an actor who so completely inhabits his roles, you have to see him in more than one to realise how very talented he is. I had seen ‘Moko’ born in his Toi Whakaari 20-minute Go Solo 2009 piece, entitled One Man And His Dog, and last year saw his skill confirmed, as Firpo especially, in the ATC ensemble production of The End of the Golden Weather.

This expanded version of his solo, now called One Day Moko and also directed by Sophie Roberts, is an opportunity to fully appreciate the precision Carlsen brings to his characterisation of a homeless man. Moko, the self-styled “urban cowboy”, lives one day at a time while following a fairly set, somewhat ritualised routine. 

There is theatrical ingenuity in the production, too. Moko’s trolley features an old black & white TV screen, assorted transistor radios – one of which is used as a cooker, the sizzling of oil emanating from a deftly manipulated cassette – tinned food and a sleeping bag. The other people he encounters, all played by Carlsen, are pre-recorded and appear via the TV screen. As does a dog. 

Surreal moments include his imitating car horns, or are they sirens, in a way that seems to channel the theme from The Magnificent Seven. He embodies horses, too. And ae dog. But the gritty reality of his daily fight for survival is ever-present.

His busking is painfully incoherent yet later – via a brilliantly realised fantasy of being interviewed by Mary Lambie on the Good Morning show – we are treated to a beautifully melodic insight as to how he perceives himself in this mode.

Also on the music front, reluctantly talked into joining a mate on the karaoke podium, he/they deliver a stunningly poignant rendition of the B B King-styled ‘Stand By Me’. This is as close as the show get to stating its message.

The video technology (A/V Edit by Daniel McEwan and Joe Newman) is ingeniously employed and I don’t want to know exactly how because it’s there to serve the story, and does so with alacrity. As well as the other people it gives us the streets he passes through, the bottle of beer he picks up which miraculously appears in his had in living colour, sunset and sunrise … And a dog.

His daily encounters with the mean-spirited server at “Maccy Dees” and a bouncer – at the drop-in centre? – are soul-destroying. So when a stray dog turns up, manifested in sound only at first, it’s unsurprising Moko is antipathetic. But then …

Suffice to say Moko’s brief encounter with the dog and the changes it brings to his routines throw everything into stark relief, enriching our perception of all that has gone before.

Jennifer Lal’s lighting design and operation completes the experience of a rough life that belies the skill and subtle precision with which it is dramatised. Don’t miss it. 


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Character-driven satire meets avant-garde ingenuity

Review by Nik Smythe 01st Jul 2011

The sparse grey scuffed concrete stage floor bears nothing but a television set and a crumpled sleeping bag by a trolley containing various other props. The audience crosses the stage to their seats, which one could infer as symbolically claiming area before its occupation by the vagrant protagonist with nowhere to call his own. 

Creator/performer Tim Carlsen is Moko, a likeable young streetkid who spends most of his life alone. Waking up in the morning, he explains the details of his cream-corn frying technique to us as he cooks his breakfast before setting out on his day. It occurs to me that nowadays this breaking of the fourth-wall technique somewhat resembles a reality television diary. 

Moko’s turf is K Road and he wears the uniform of the homeless – too-short torn up hoodie, grubby trainers and breakdancer-style track pants. With director Sophie Roberts, Carlsen has devised a strangely transporting multi-recycled-media snapshot into the life of this wayward youth, whose lack of pretty much anything has gone beyond desperation into a kind of resigned acceptance.

It took me a while to realise all the ‘real life’ characters he interacts with via the TV set – the bouncer, the gay clubber, the other vagrants, the uptight McDonald’s worker et al, are all played by Carlsen with impressive facility. However, his clever and appealing portrayal of Moko stops short of being quite believable; a kind of contrived layer that prevents me getting fully emotionally involved. On a philosophical level though, the deft performance and intriguing production is clear. 

Presumably Maori, it seems significant that Moko never speaks of his family or childhood. To the contrary, he lives entirely in the moment except when he’s indulging delusional fantasies of a successful rock-n-roll future where he’s even interviewed by Mary Lambie! 

This is the second play in a row I’ve seen using ghetto blasters (among other devices) to represent objects and characters. Although Moko rises further to the heights of a functioning and versatile television set, it nonetheless remains a poor urban inverse counterpart to the other play, the deeply rural Awhi Tapu. Both shows are about identity, but while one tracks a journey the other exposes a stagnant loop. 

All in all One Day Moko is a consistently entertaining work where character-driven satire meets avant-garde ingenuity, ultimately ratified this night by an appreciative standing ovation. I wonder if many genuine members of the homeless community have got to see this, and how they might respond to it? 
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