BATS Theatre, Wellington

01/11/2019 - 16/11/2019


Production Details

Fall head-first into a new Aotearoa republic as the country closes in on its first election scandal. The runaway candidate in this 2024 election, an ultraconservative woman, has been kidnapped. But who is behind it? And what do they want?

Prepare to be whisked into an alternate reality filled with uncannily familiar media frenzy, public scandal, and fake news politics.

Ransom has transformed BATS Theatre into a playground of scenarios from our potential future. It’s a brand-new narrative experience unlike any other.

BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
1 – 16 November 2019
Groups from 6.30pm, 6.50pm, 7.10pm, 7.30pm 
Concession Price $20

Featuring Moana Ete, Isadora Lao, Sepelini Mua'au, Jean Sergent, Ashleigh Williams, Hannah Kelly, Jake Brown, Stella Reid + Neenah Dekkers-Reihana

Production Design by Rose Kirkup.
Sound Design by Thomas Lambert.
Lighting Design by Elekis Poblete Teirney.
Costume Design by Sophie Sargent.

Production Management by Phil Loizou.
Stage Management by Sam Tippet.
Produced by Eleanor Strathern.
Design Assist by Isadora Lao.
Made possible by Wellington creatives including Beth Taylor, Olivia Flanagan, Maxie Haufe, Marshall Rankin + Melanie van Bysterveldt.

Theatre ,

55 mins

Values Held Hostage

Review by James Wenley 06th Nov 2019

Was it the moral righteousness? The insistence their way was the right and only way? The absurdity of the camembert argument: that they knew how to pronounce the French properly because they were educated?

Over the past week an artefact of New Zealand coloniality went viral: audio from Marcus Lush’s talkback show of two callers proudly defending their right to pronounce Māori place names the way they had been brought up to: “I will never pronounce them the way you think they should be pronounced.” For some it was shocking to hear this perspective voiced so openly and so wilfully. For some this was just the example of the week of everyday racism and supremacy encountered, well, everyday. [More]


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Enrols us in a timely enquiry into the nature of contemporary politics

Review by John Smythe 02nd Nov 2019

It’s quite an experience to find ourselves caught up in a major incident in the run-up to the 2024 election and feel what’s happening is unnervingly familiar. It’s based on a ‘what if’ scenario we’d like to think is unlikely – except: President Trump and the whole Trump empire, family and sycophants decimating democracy in ‘the land of the free’; PM Boris Johnson and the whole Brexit fiasco … What’s not to believe is possible?

The creators of this year’s BATS/STAB show, Stella Reid, Neenah Dekkers-Reihana, Robbie Nicol and Finnius Teppett, are asking us to consider what it would take to flip New Zealand from the compassion, empathy and inclusiveness that’s driving today’s political agenda to something led by (my interpretation) the bastard child of Nigel Farage and Pauline Hanson? Conceived at the turn of the millennium, her name is Katie Wakefield: star of YouTube with a million subscribers.

Two pamphlets await our perusal in the ‘departure lounge’, whence we’ll leave in groups of three to experience Ransom – so-called because (as revealed in the publicity) Katie Wakefield has been kidnapped. One is a voters’ guide to the 2024 Election. It reveals a 2020 referendum turned NZ into a republic, “in part in reaction to the small tithe requested from all Commonwealth countries, enacted by King Charles III to help Britain cope with an unstable post-Brexit economy.”

The other is a pitch from Wakefield’s One New Zealand Party: “We are young, fresh-faced, and idealistic. We believe in a future that is tough on terrorists and tough on crime. We believe in a future that protects our borders from climate refugees, because keeping our children safe should be everyone’s top priority.” And because the republic has cut ties with ‘The Crown’, their key policies reject the Treaty and all that has flowed from it. Their aim to “take back ownership of our country” clearly speaks for the dominant culture. The ONZ Party is “proud to say what you’re thinking and the other politicians are too afraid to say.” (Hobson’s Pledge, anyone?)

Being issued sleeping masks while we wait is a witty counterpoint to anyone who thinks they are ‘woke’. It’s up to us to keep our wits about us as we are lead into various spaces. Production Designer Rose Kirkup makes full use of all that BATS has to offer, working with Elekis Poblete Teirney (Lighting Design), Thomas Lambert (Sound Design) and Sophie Sargent (Costume Design) to create a very different vibe in each space.

At this point, if you wish to experience Ransom with no further hints as to what you are in for, be assured this show is well worth going to and stop reading here.

Following a safety briefing that assures us we can opt out at any time, we get to see Robbie Nicol, as the credible if somewhat compromised anchor man, front Wakefield Media’s breaking news coverage of the kidnap of Katie Wakefield (Stella Reid) just before she was due to step up for the leader’s debate. Next Isadora Lao’s highly excited activist, Rai, leads us up to the virtual reality of Wakefield University where Moana Ete’s calm, composed and focused Neve engages us in … (spoiler averted).

With Sepelini Mua’au’s nervously questing Kupe, we become journalist interns tasked with fact-checking and suggesting headlines – in contrast to the gently genial welcome we get from Jean Sergent’s more mystical Ffion. Shrouded in essential oils, she mingles our theories as to how this event may play out with the aid of randomly cut cards.

Finding ourselves drawn in as a focus group for the imminent launch of a new perfume, hosted by glamorously sophisticated Zozo (Ashleigh Williams) and Emm (Hannah Kelly), brings another change of pace and tone. Being confronted with its unfortunate name, given the timing, may or may not provoke conspiracy theories about the kidnapping.

Exotic decadence (courtesy of Te Auaha performing arts students) permeates our descent into the Crystal Club. We find there is more to consider regarding Katie Wakefield’s modus operandi as we spend time in the dressing room of Jake Brown’s emotional bank clerk-turned drag artiste, Shady Katie Hatefilled (sic). The plots thicken …

Brought to ‘the scene of the crime’, Katie Wakefield’s bathroom, replete with evidence of a violent struggle, returns us to the reality of the situation – or does it? A spectral visitation from Katie herself takes us into another realm. Indeed as we follow her, we transition into a ‘post mortem’ zone where Neenah Dekkers-Reihana’s independent journalist, Sam Kupe, reveals what she believes to be the truth.

Astutely crafted, with Stella Reid and Neenah Dekkers-Reihana as its co-directors, Ransom uses the structure of a whodunit – what happened, who did it and why? – to enrol us in a timely enquiry into the nature of contemporary politics. It ingeniously manifests the domains in which our perceptions of reality lie.

Although it is participatory, it is unthreatening and respectful of our rights to engage or simply observe. And it is an experience you can only have live, in this theatre. Don’t miss the opportunity. 


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