Public Service Announcements

BATS Theatre, Wellington

18/05/2011 - 21/05/2011

NZ International Comedy Festival 2011

Production Details

It’s Election Year!  

Time to celebrate the utter ridiculousness of New Zealand politics.

In the 2011 New Zealand International Comedy Festival, at 9:30pm in the final week, BATS Theatre will host a uniquely Wellingtonian Event three years in the making: Public Service Announcements.

For four nights only, Wellington‘s top artists are coming together at BATS Theatre for a dazzling and enlightening night of political satire. Using a simple hypothesis, The No Fefe Collective aims to prove that things only get crazy in politics, because we allow them to:

§      Election night 2011.

§      As the world faces riots and political unrest, it’s nice to know that here in New Zealand, we truly have the most boring politicians on the planet.

§      Voters have had enough.

§      As results begin to come in, a disturbing trend begins to emerge. One man appears to be on top. One man developing a surprisingly familiar conscience.

§      Winston.

The No Fefe Collective are a new group of established Wellington artists with experience in Theatre, Film, Television and Comedy – a mixture of backgrounds with a mixture of stories all focussed on one theme – the 2011 Election. Taking the No Fefe (Samoan for Fear) approach, and the kind of inside knowledge that comes from sharing a city full of bars with public servants, audiences are guaranteed hilarious new insights into the realities of the Kiwi political mindset. 

Written by Chapman Tripp nominee James Nokise and with an all star cast, The No Fefe Collective promises an hour of laughs aimed squarely at our bumbling political system, and it’s befuddled members. A definite for anyone working in the public sector.

Dates:  18 May – 21 May, 9.30pm
Venue:  BATS Theatre, 1 Kent St, CBD
Tickets:  BATS Theatre 04 802 4175 or
Bookings:  04 801 5007 or    

DAVID LANGE—Phil Grieve 
JOHN KEY—David Lawrence 
PHIL GOFF—Chris Parker 
DON BRASH—David Lawrence 
TARIANA TURIA—Bryony Skillington 
RODNEY HIDE—Bryony Skillington
PITA SHARPLES—Salesi Le’ota 
JACINDA ARDERN—Anya Tate-Manning
VOTER 1—Anya Tate-Manning
VOTER 2—Ahi Karunaharan

With special guest appearance by Nathaniel Lees

Producer—Mary Laine
Operator—Rachel More Henry
Technical Supervisor—Todd Houston 

50 mins, no interval

Either over-written, under-rehearsed or both

Review by John Smythe 19th May 2011

Set on Election Day 2011, Public Service Announcements is something of a warning. The scene is set with a John Campbell voice-over announcing early indications are that Winston Peters is making a comeback (the poster suggests this too).

Two average Kiwi Voters – Anya Tate-Manning and Ahi Karunaharan – quiz a Polling Booth Lady (Alex Greig in an orange wig) in their apathetic attempts to work out who their candidates are, let alone who to vote for. The message for us all is to be better informed than them. Even so if you don’t fancy either major party, so give your party vote to a minor one …

Central to the ensuing proceedings is a scotch-slugging Winston Peters (Allan Henry) who gets a spooky visitation from David Lange (Phil Grieve). They talk, a lot, revisiting the past few decades of NZ politics with rigorous rhetoric. Writer James Nokise includes some astute observations here. Henry postures well as Peters and Grieve captures Lange’s cadences nicely.

Little attempt is made to capture the physical or vocal likenesses of John Key (David Lawrence), except for his being PM of “New Ziln”, Bill English (Alex Greig) or Phil Goff (Chris Parker), although Bryony Skillington gives us a highly caricatured, bald and balletic Rodney Hide.

Skillington also plays Tariana Turia, whose foul-mouthed dialogue and aggressive demeanour seems to be channelling Titewhai Harawira (and the lack of a Harawira presence does date the script somewhat). Despite his physical difference, slender Salesi Le’ota takes a good stab at Pita Sharples and on a purely theatrical level their double act is most entertaining. Le’ota also makes an unaccredited appearance as a stroppy Samoan woman call Aunty by English.  

Lawrence also has another cameo as a black caped and hooded Don Brash, but to be frank I heard no mention of his being frank which is negligent, quite frankly.

Even those who don’t know who Jacinda Ardern is (she’s Labour’s youngest list member, standing for Auckland Central this year) will get a vivid impression from Anya Tate-Manning’s bright, smiley and ruthless characterisation.

Ahi Karunaharan, in full battle fatigues, makes a strong impact as Commodore Bainimarama (referred to as Bananarama by his many detractors). He is sought out by Goff in his quest for a tougher leadership style. Only one man has more to offer in the unbridled power stakes and he (played by Nathaniel Lees) Skypes in his contribution.

At its extremities the political satire is broad, outrageous and a hoot. In the verbal detail, however … it’s hard to tell. Some actors have learned their lines well and so modulate their performances to good effect. Others bring an air of panic and manic energy to their delivery, suggesting their main focus is on remembering lines, which works against our tuning in to what they are saying and why. On one viewing it’s is hard to judge whether the show is over-written, under-rehearsed or both.  

As predicted, the election result reflects a catastrophic disdain for the two major parties and serves as a cautionary tale for us all. But the new leader’s first action on taking office lets us too easily off the hook. In November we won’t get a second chance. 
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.  


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council