Pink Lighter

BATS Theatre, Wellington

01/03/2010 - 05/03/2010

NZ Fringe Festival 2010

Production Details

I’m gonna get killed in some ‘serial masturbator’s’ basement by his crazy sex deprived… widow.”

Theatrewhack presents the BATS Premiere season of Jonathan Riley’s Pink Lighter during the 2010 New Zealand Fringe festival. 

Have you blacked out recently? 
What would you do if you if you woke up in your neighbours’ laundry tied to a chair? 

Pink Lighter is a new work by New Zealand playwright Jonathon Riley. Never before has it been performed. 

Jack and Fran live next to Steve Nina and Lance. They seem like two normal households… until they meet. Jacks terrible dark secret is found out by his stoner next door neighbours and their lives are changed forever… and all because Fran wouldn’t let Jack use her Pink Lighter. Pink Lighter is the story of two dysfunctional households and the lighter that came between them. 


This is Jonathon Riley’s first full length play to be performed. He previously collaborated with Patrick Graham on his script Happy Accident at Auckland’s’ Musgrove Studio Theatre. 

Then wow, just when you’ve swallowed that one, it gets even better. Happy Accident by Jonathan Riley has the distinct advantage of having a good director (Patrick Graham) and talented actors.” – Candice Lewis August 12 2009

Patrick Graham returns to direct Pink Lighter for Riley at BATS during the 2010 New Zealand Fringe Festival. This is Graham’s third show to be performed during the BATS fringe season.

The cast of Pink Lighter are Bray Croft (Happy Accident), Charlotte Blacklock (Happy Accident), Chanel Turner (Studio 2), Jonathan Riley (Dinner Party Money) and Patrick Graham (White Trash Omnibus)

Where: BATS theatre
When: 1st – 5th of March 2010
What Time: 9:30pm
How much: $16 (Adults)/ $12 (Concession)/ $10 (Fringe addicts)
Bookings: or call (04) 802 4175     

A dud

Review by John Smythe 03rd Mar 2010

I’m tempted to offer this production the amount of respect it gives its audience and say – as its characters keep saying to each other – “it’s a fucking retard” and leave it at that. But then I’d also get abused for not doing my job. So …

When in doubt, consider the title. There’s a character called Steve (Bray Croft), who collects cigarette lighters (his box is labelled LITAS), most of which don’t work. One is pink. It’s called Millicent. Fran (Chanel Turner), the girl next door, has it. I’m not sure but I think it might be the quest to retrieve the lighter that tries to drive the plot through a plethora of irrelevancies.

Fran lives with Jack (Phillip White) who is a fantasist, role playing as a gun-toting ‘Super Jack’.  He is also a compulsive wanker, whose most intimate and fulfilling relationship is with his right hand, which he adorns with plastic eyes and calls Shazza. Jack and Shazza both shout a lot. And Jack keeps baring his bum at the audience. Should we feel insulted?

Steve lives with couch potato Lance (Patrick Graham, who also directs), whose play station takes him, and those willing to kowtow to him, to “the forbidden mutant lab”. Nina (Charlotte Blacklock), is also a flatmate. She spends most of the time telling both men what retards they are when they aren’t mindlessly insulting each other. Later she is grossed out when she discovers Lance uses “nina” as his password to some secret site.

Meanwhile this trio decides, amid a jumble of meaningless dialogue, to sneak up on the neighbours – Fran and Jack – who have taken a sudden break from being totally dysfunctional and are getting it on in the kitchen. This leads to their coming out to investigate the intruders, Nina clocking Fran unconscious (with a clock) and Steve running away while Jack ties Nina and Lance up in Fran’s laundry.

Apparently he has been having another ‘episode’ while doing this. An anatomically correct (if enormous) dildo has made an appearance early on and ‘out in the street’ but it goes nowhere. Jack, however, jerks off in Lance’s ear then tries to wipe it off with a pair of soiled underpants.

Jack tries to perve on supine Fran’s bits to prove to himself he’s not gay. When she wakes up, she comes on to him like a nymphomaniac. Something to do with the pink lighter? Maybe that’s why he throws up when they get to the laundry, to complete the trifecta of bodily emissions.

They girls trade “skanky bitch” insults then suddenly are molesting each other, which also leads nowhere. The punchline is – should I put a spoiler warning here? – that “The lighter has gone; it has no spark.” The same cannot be said for the play, or this production of it: it was a dud from the start.

The actors show great commitment. The women make their warped roles as credible as possible and Blacklock is clearly a gifted comedienne. The small second night audience was largely silent throughout and managed to offer polite applause at the end.

If anyone can make greater sense of Pink Lighter (by Jonathan Riley), or rationalise it as a credible absurdist play, please do.

(Note: nonsensical ≠ absurdist. Absurdist plays take a logical premise to an absurd conclusion or an absurd premise to a logical conclusion. They are clearly linked to the real world.)
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. 


James Franklin March 13th, 2010

I hated this play. But I hate this review even more. This Smyth guy writes so poorly its a wonder anyone takes him seriously.

Simon Taylor March 3rd, 2010

Is the spoiler of the spoilt spoiler spoilt? Steve?

[Oh bugger, Simon - sorry - ED]

Simon Taylor March 3rd, 2010

Is the spoiler line spoilt? Is it "has has"?

[Thanks Steve - fixed - ED]

steve dean March 3rd, 2010

I can't defend it theatrically or philosophically but I did think it was very funny and never boring.

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