Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

27/03/2012 - 07/04/2012

Production Details

Exciting young talent tackle cracking new British play.   

An exciting cast of the young and the talented is hitting The Basement at the end of March for the NZ Premiere of British playwright Simon Stephens “cracking new play” (The Times, UK), ‘Punk Rock’. Seen by over 26000 people in its 2009 premiere season at the Manchester Royal Exchange, ‘Punk Rock’ explores the underlying tensions and potential violence in a group of affluent and articulate seventeen year old students. The award-winning team at The Outfit Theatre Company have assembled a crack young cast of exciting youngsters who, working with experienced Outfit ensemble members and under the direction of Benjamin Henson, are bringing this, “powerful and compelling new play” (The Independent, UK) to life, for the first time in NZ.

Punk Rock follows the story of seven Manchester private-school sixth-formers as they face up to the pressures of teenage life, while preparing for their mock A-levels and trying to get into Oxbridge. They are a group of educated, intelligent and aspirational young people but step-by-step, the dislocation, disjunction and latent violence simmering under the surface of success is revealed. Based on his experience as a teacher, Stephens describes his play as ‘The History Boys on crack’. Contemporary and unnerving, others have described it as The History Boys meets Catcher in the Rye

Punk Rock was nominated for Best New Play at the 2010 UK Theatre Awards.

Over the last 3 years the critically-acclaimed Outfit Theatre Company have gained a reputation for fast, fresh and explosive ensemble theatre. Shows like The Sex Show, A Criminal Christmas, and Boys’ Life have exploded ontoAuckland stages and left audiences gasping for breath!

Kicking 2012 off with ‘Punk Rock’ just made sense according to Outfit Theatre’s Co-Artistic Director, and one of the stars of ‘Punk Rock’, Sarah Graham, “it fitted our ethos really well, it’s explosive, immediate and contemporary, it’s got a streak of vicious black comedy, and it will definitely surprise you. It just couldn’t be a more Outfit style show!

Sarah stars in the show as the new girl at school, Lily Cahill, along with fellow Outfit Theatre founding member Devlin Bishop (Dr. Richard Harvey), and the pair will act as mentors to a young but excepionally talented cast.

Fresh off The Maidment stage and the Auckland Theatre Company’s production of The Motor Camp, talented newcomer Nathan Mudge will play the troubled lead, William Carlisle

Hackman Award Winner Morgan Albrecht (Disorder – YOUNG and HUNGRY) plays Cissy Franks.

Elizabeth McMenamin (August:OsageCounty – Auckland Theatre Company) plays Tanya Gleason.

Jordan Mooney (Tigerplay – YOUNG AND HUNGRY) plays Bennet Francis.

George Mason (Shortland Street’s Regan Ames) plays Nicholas Chatman.

Ryan Dulieu (The Taming of the Shrew ) plays Chadwick Meade.

Director Benjamin Henson, himself a native of Leicester, presented shows at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe for 9 years before relocating to NZ a year ago. He has been making a name for himself in Auckland since his arrival, adapting the classic ghost story The Turn of the Screw at the Auckland Fringe last March to sell-out audiences and rave reviews. Over the last year he has also directed or assistant directed;  ‘Death by Cheerleader’, ‘Tigerplay’ (YOUNG and HUNGRY) and recent NZ Fringe Festival play, ‘Confessions’. He’s been described as “a director to watch” (James Wenley – Theatrescenes) and has recently been assisting for the Auckland Theatre Company and teaching for the Performing Arts School of New Zealand.

Set design by John Parker (A Criminal Christmas, Boys’ Life)
Lighting design by Brad Gledhill (The Motor Camp, Red, Tartuffe, A Criminal Christmas, The Sex Show) 


Warning: R15  Contains strong language and violence.
Tickets:  Adult $30 / Concession $20 / Preview 27th March $15 / Equity $15 available on:  www.iticket.co.nz
Show dates / times:  27th March – 7th March.
All shows at 8pm except Sunday 6pm. No show Monday. 


Nathan Mudge
Sarah Graham
Jordan Mooney
George Mason
Elizabeth McMenamin
Morgan Albrecht
Ryan Dulieu
Devlin Bishop
Rosie Hayden
Caitlin Roscherr
Jaimee McCann

Assistant Director: Pete Coates
Producer: Ema Barton
Set Design: John Parker
Lighting Design: Brad Gledhill
Stage Manager: Brad Johnson
Outfit Production Team: Pete Coates, Joel Herbert, Jacqui Nauman, Sarah Graham and Andrew Ford.   

Drama lays bare the brutality of bullying

Review by Paul Simei-Barton 30th Mar 2012

Outfit Theatre’s latest production drops us into the pressure-cooker environment of a posh English secondary school where a group of articulate high-achieving teenagers are preparing for their final A-Level exams.

The set-up is remarkably similar to Alan Bennett’s The History Boys but the drama rapidly veers off into much darker territory as it explores a seething self-contained world filled with adolescent angst. [More]


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Teen angst on overdrive

Review by James Wenley 29th Mar 2012

Pity the British teenager. There’s something about the British school system that has seen it spawn more than its fair share of films, television and plays eviscerating the subject. Alan Bennett’s thoughtful The History Boys, which Punk Rock has been compared to, took a fairly noble approach to student’s studying their final exam. Punk Rock by Simon Stephens is something else entirely.  While presenting as a familiar story of a group of grammar school sixth formers studying for their A levels, it explodes into a punishing indictment on the horrors of high school and the teenage wasteland.

School uniforms don’t stop Punk Rock’s characters from expressing their identities – it’s all how you wear your blazer. Opening loud to a suitably raucous punk song, a recognisable assortment of archetypes parade around the stage. There’s the tightly buttoned nerd, the suggestive hottie, the sloppily dressed bully, and the guy so cool he gets away with wearing a non-regulation jacket. Within seconds, the nerd’s pants have been pulled down and carted offstage. Ah, so that’s how it’s going to be. [More


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Seriously impressive rendition of rich and explosive script

Review by Joanna Page 29th Mar 2012

When I learned the Outfit Theatre Company resorted to using a guest ensemble cast for Punk Rock I was worried. Sure the teenage characters needed to look like Upper Sixth Formers, not like the 20-somethings who played teenagers in 90210, but how good would they be?

As it turns out, they’re bloody brilliant.

Within a minute of watching from the perimeter of the common room where Simon Stephens’ play unfolds, I was sitting up as straight as a pupil next to the school’s Principal. And that’s how I stayed for the next two hours.

The play tells the story of the complex relationships of seven pupils about to sit their A levels and venture out into the world. Their grapple with life, love, sex, study and power is brought to a head when Lilly Cahill, a new pupil, arrives only a month before the big exams.

With John Parker’s pared-back set of just two tables, several chairs, huge window frames and a few books and bags, there’s nowhere else you could be but in a common room. Combined with Brad Gledhill’s lighting and Joel Herbert’s ear-drum-blitzing music and often subtle soundscape (trains and school bells), the audience focuses entirely on the actors. And under such intense scrutiny, they can’t afford to make a mistake.

Other than a few hit-and-miss accents, the cast nails it.

Under Benjamin Henson’s direction they manage to avoid the stereotypical characters, which would have been very easy to fall back on, by showing more vulnerability. That, coupled with a remarkable ability to stay in character and remain completely present throughout the entire performance, means they interact naturally. Weave that with a seamless and rich script and you get some very powerful work.

I have to take my hat off to the whole cast – I was seriously impressed and can’t wait to see what they do next. That said, the three standouts are Nathan Mudge’s troubled-bordering-on-paranoid William, Ryan Dulieu’s remarkably strong Chadwick, and Sarah Graham’s brazen, manipulative and gently understanding Lilly.

Punk Rock isn’t a light-hearted comedy. It’s as angst-ridden as any teenager’s “why me?” journal, but it’s explosive and well worth checking out. 


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