The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

26/09/2020 - 03/10/2020

Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

19/01/2019 - 16/02/2019

Production Details

Following a sell-out 2018 preview season! 

The Babysitters Club are offering a discount on babysitter services – see below 

Two “Babes in Arms” performances – see below 

From one tired mama to another

“Parenting is hard. And awesome. And the best thing ever. And it’s so hard. And amazing. And it’s a mess of contradictions and we can’t get through it alone. Let’s get through it together.” 

Wellington blogger Emily Writes’ best-selling book Rants in the Dark is making the leap from the page to the stage. Emily’s heartfelt and hilarious writing explores her parenting experience, offering comfort and connection to other exhausted parents all over the world. Honest, authentic and laugh out loud funny, the play is full of the things that every parent thinks at 4am, but would rarely be brave enough to say out loud. 

Emily shot to fame after a rant on her blog received 1 million hits overnight. Celebrate the truth and hilarity of parenthood (and grandparenthood!) and track the impact of what happened when Emily’s blog went viral overnight.

Following a five night sell-out preview season in the 2018 Women’s Theatre Festival, Circa is proud to be hosting the premiere season of this phenomenal new production.

   “It was affirming and beautiful and I loved it so, so much.”

   “It was so deeply moving. It was hugely hilarious. Real stories for real people. My heart was bursting.”

   “You are telling it like it is, the realities of parenthood, pregnancy and birth… and god knows the world needs more realism around parenting.”

   “Hilarious and wrenching. All fathers should see it.”

   “My husband and I absolutely loved the show! Such a perfect performance to represent the book.”


19 January – 16 February 2019
Preview 18 January
Tues & Wed 6.30pm, Thurs, Fri, Sat 8pm, Sun 4pm
$25 – $52
Babes in Arms performances:
Wednesday 23 Jan 10.30am & Wednesday 30 Jan 10.30am
New Zealand Sign Language Interpreted Performance
Sunday 3 Feb 4pm
$25, companions come for free!
For more information click HERE
BOOK: https://www.circa.co.nz/package/rants-in-the-dark-2019/


There will be two “Babes in Arms” performances so that parents with very young babies can enjoy the production and have their babies close.

Please note: the play is not suitable for toddlers or older children. The play contains strong language and adult themes.

The Babysitters Club are also offering a discount to their services for the duration of the season for people needing a babysitter at home. See details below.

Are you looking for a babysitter so you can enjoy a night out at the theatre?

The Babysitters Club is a babysitting service that fosters a nurturing, inspiring, and safe community, providing parents with certainty and freedom. Their sitters are all police-checked, reference-checked and interviewed.

The Babysitters Club is proud to be supporting Rants in the Dark – the play at Circa Theatre and wish to support parents who want to enjoy a night out.

For the duration of the season (19 January to 16 February) any Sitters booked by parents attending the play will get $15 off the total booking charge. Mention that you’re attending “Rants in the Dark” when you book a Sitter on the website: www.thebabysittersclub.nz

You can choose to have a babysitter come to your home to babysit your family, or team up with friends and family to pool children at one house and get one (or more) sitters to look after a group of children. Ratio of 1 sitter to 5 children.

The Court Theatre CHRISTCHURCH, 2020 

With special group prices, Rants in the Dark is the perfect production to bring your friends and family to, with dinner options and Giesen wine available before the show. 

Talking about the appeal of the show, The Court’s Artistic Director Dan Pengelly says, “Rants in the Dark shines a light on the often unspoken but universal experiences of parenting and takes audiences on that emotional journey.”

For young parents, The Court will be running a Babes in Arms matinee where audiences will have the chance to bring their young babies (12 months and under) to sit on their lap during a 2pm performance.

For Writes, she believes this production has something to offer everyone – not just mums. “I’ve had dads tell me it made them feel more connected to their partner and that they’ve felt seen. I’ve also had people who aren’t parents say it helped them to understand the parenting experience.”

She has a special place in her heart for mums, though, saying that if she could, she’d love to “give them a hug – and listen.”

Due to the extension of Level 2, Rants in the Dark has been rescheduled to run at
The Court Theatre
26 September – 3 October 2020
Monday & Thursday: 6:30pm
Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat:  7:30pm
Babes in Arms Matinee:* 2pm, Saturday 3 October 
Adult:  $40
Senior (65+):  $38
Group (6+):  $36
Supporter or Subscriber:  $36

Bookings: visit courttheatre.org.nz
or call 0800 333 100 (Monday to Friday, 11am – 1pm)

*Babes in Arms Matinee
On Saturday 3 October at 2pm, there will be a Babes in Arms matinee! Perfect for new parents, you’ll have the chance to bring your young baby (12 months and under) to sit on your lap during the performance.
Please note: children over this age are not permitted. Babies must be seated on ticket-holders laps during the performance. Rants in the Dark is not suitable for toddlers or older children, as it contains strong language & adult themes.

Renee Lyons 
Bronwyn Turei 
Amelia Reid-Meredith

Director:  Lyndee-Jane Rutherford
Set & Costume Designers:  Wai Mihinui & Ebony Tiopira-Waaka
Lighting Designer:  Jennifer Lal
Sound Designer:  Benny Jennings
Composer:  Liam Reid
AV Designer:  Mata Freshwater

Producer:  Bevin Linkhorn
Stage Manager:  Brynne Tasker-Poland
Technical Operator:  Tony Black 
Graphic Designer:  Ben Emerson
Carpenter:  Neil Bensman, Mason Rose, Ashley Mardon
Lighting Crew:  Dani Sciascia, Josh Tucker, Bridget Carpenter
Photography:  Roc Torio, Matt Grace
Videography:  Jack O’Donnell 
Publicity team:  Bevin Linkhorn, Gemma Dempsey Hoskins, Susie Dunn
Box Office Manager:  Eleanor Strathern 
FOH Manager:  Harish Purohit   

Theatre ,

1hr 50mins incl. interval

Energetic, relatable and mostly well-paced

Review by Fiona S Giles 27th Sep 2020

Who wants to go see a play full of women ranting about sleepless nights, poo-explosions and crying in public? Everyone here tonight, that’s who.  

An almost-packed house, so soon after Covid restrictions were lifted, speaks to both the determination of Christchurch theatregoers and the evergreen content of Rants in the Dark. Because the complaints of parents often are rants in the dark – there are few opportunities to commiserate, to lament, as a parent without being told off. 

Rants in the Dark is the stage adaptation of the best-selling book of the same name, itself taken from the blog Emily Writes. Emily has said in the past her blog is a place for parents to feel community without judgement and I am delighted to learn that the play is in the same vein. Packed full of humour, pain, satire and f-bombs, watching it feels like being wrapped in a blanket made of cuddles, sav blanc and Jason Momoa – a place of safety from overbearing, well-meaning advice and strangers who tut and judge. A place where, for two hours, you don’t feel like the only one not getting the hang of this parenting thing.

Renee Lyons, Bronwyn Turei, and Amelia Reid-Meredith – three talented New Zealand actors, each with multiple acting credits in TV theatre and film – make up the cast. While each has multiple roles, Renee Lyons takes on the role of Emily, a woman navigating new motherhood and sudden internet fame. Bronwyn Turei plays, amongst others, Emily’s husband, a typical Kiwi bloke and bewildered new dad. Amelia Reid-Meredith tackles everyone else, from sanctimonious playground mother, to birth photographer, to pack of salt.

Turei and Reid-Meredith’s animated, often outlandish, portrayals bring the characters Emily meets to vivid life. A technical issue with the microphones threatens to unseat things tonight, but the trio sails through it smoothly.

Rants in the Dark is a well-staged, cleverly-lit, dynamic reimagining of the book, packed as it is with visual humour, imaginative props and resourceful use of digital backdrops. Mel Dodge, writer, Bevin Linkhorn, writer and producer and Lindee-Jane Rutherford, writer and director, clearly worked hard to lift the words from the page to a visual medium. Their efforts add up to a play that is energetic, relatable and mostly well-paced.

Though not a strict narrative, the play guides us through Emily Write’s experiences of pregnancy, birth, going from one to two children, returning to work and dealing with the many difficulties of parenthood (including how awful Thomas the Tank Engine truly is and being up at 3 am Googling “Am I a bad mother?”). Emily also goes on an emotionally searing journey, dealt with mostly in the second half. Lyons navigates her performance gracefully through the emotional rollercoaster ride.

But after the fast-paced first act, the number of slower scenes and the emotional weight of the second makes for an unusual mix – the play feels off-balance to me. Though I cry laughing for much of the play, being brought to tears of sadness comes as a surprise – not an unwelcome one but nonetheless, I wished for a few more lighthearted scenes to bring me back to an even keel.

The most heart-wrenching of these emotional moments for me comes when worried parents in hospital sing a karakia, inviting Emily, a stranger to them, to join in. They link arms – united in both fear for their children and support for each other – and sing beautifully. And that, to me, encapsulates the heart of the play. That parents everywhere are all struggling to do their best in uncharted and often terrifying situations and that the best thing we can do is support each other.

Watch this play if for nothing more than to remind yourself you’re doing ok. You’ll get through this parenting thing just fine.

And if you don’t have kids yourself, watch it then call your mum or dad and thank them for sticking with you even while you kept them up at 3 am.

Rants in the Dark is on in Christchurch for one week, including a Babes-in-arms show on Saturday.


Make a comment

A hero’s journey indeed

Review by John Smythe 20th Jan 2019

Anyone who has ever been a baby needs to see this play. Regardless of your gender or personal parental status, it behoves us all to take a moment – well a couple of hours or so – to tune into what it takes to gestate, birth and bring up a brand new baby. Mothers – and fathers who have been close to the action – will empathise hugely and those who have been relatively unaware and what it took to bring them into the world may gain a new appreciation of what their mothers (and fathers) sacrificed and gained by creating and nurturing them.

Yes, parenting has been around since Eve and Adam, Papa and Rangi, Vai’i and Sa, Kele and Biki et al. But when it comes to having babies everything old is new again, including for parents if and when they have another child. Every generation has its perspective.

Back in 1985 Sarah Delahunty’s Stretchmarks was a huge hit for Circa Theatre. She continued her commentary on parenting with a series of radio talks called Pounding the Pillow (which I think was recently replayed on RNZ in the early hours). Early this century the Canadian-devised monologue show Mum’s The Word played to packed houses in Wellington then nationwide. And just last year a co-op of Wellington women brought Femme Natale – billed as “a night of skits, comedy and revelry inspired by the extraordinary experiences of motherhood” and also described as “surviving and thriving in the hardest job you’ll ever do” – to BATS then the Globe in Palmerston North.

Now Wellington’s Good Times Company has teamed with Circa Theatre to present Rants in the Dark, adapted for the stage by Mel Dodge, Lyndee-Jane Rutherford and Bevin Linkhorn from Emily Writes’ viral blog-turned book, Rants in the Dark: From One Tired Mama to Another. Unusually for Circa it had a brief development season last year, which is to be applauded. Indeed it could be seen to be as fundamentally necessary as the gestation process itself and/or as valuable as prenatal care from a midwife.*

The opening image (not to be revealed here) is surprising and totally appropriate. I am also surprised, at first, that the actresses – Renee Lyons, Bronwyn Turei and Amelia Reid-Meredith – use hand-held mics until it becomes apparent that the base-line genre is stand-up comedy. It therefore feels like a welcome bonus when dramatised action and theatrical production values are added to the mix.

With a relaxed alacrity that belies the hard work they’ve done to make it happen, all three traverse an ever-undulating range of emotions and states of being as they recall, relive and comment on the multi-facetted experience of becoming a mother. Lyons channels the central voice of the first-time-mother while Turei and Reid-Meredith variously play well-meaning friends, relatives and strangers, her conscience (head v heart) and a series of judgemental strangers. Turei is the staunchly loyal husband and Reid-Meredith becomes the first son, Eddie, intriguingly clad in a silver korowai-cum-cape that conflates the paramount chief commanding the parents with the super-hero of his own imagination.

Designers Wai Mihinui and Ebony Tiopira-Waaka otherwise keep the costumes simple and functional; likewise their set, with a central structure that variously represents a bedstead, cot, house, an ‘onward and upward’ sign and, suddenly, when lit up with tukutuku, a wharenui. Three tall gauze panels frame silhouetted images and are screens for Mata Freshwater’s AV design. Jennifer Lal’s exacting lighting design, Benny Jennings’ sound design and Liam Reid’s compositions blend in seamlessly to enhance the ‘feels’ and keep the focus on the women and the experiences they are evoking. Some beautifully sung waiata also enrich the soundscape (and I’m not sure who to credit for them).

Director Lyndee-Jane Rutherford has clearly aligned the production team beautifully and masterminded a flow of action that takes us on a wondrously compelling experiential journey. And it’s very funny: laughter is the predominant audience response as we empathise with it all.

The first half takes us from ‘wise before the event’ idealism to the nitty gritty of reality, revealing this mum and dad have been together for ten years and two children, before treating us to her recollections – mercifully recaptured in the present tense: the endless advice; the fear-based anger during birth; the deep-felt shocks and surprises; the hormonal changes; the lack of sleep, money and social life; the fantasising; the swaddle dilemma; the screen-time dilemma … This mama’s feminist critique of Thomas the Tank Engine is both salutary and a heartfelt cry from a woman trying to reclaim her adult brain.

Early on a brilliant device festoons the stage with an evocation of the constant presence of bright-coloured toys all over the floor. A flirtation with Pinterest pits our mum against those who “have their shit together”, further contrasting reality with impossible ideals. Childcare and the return to work are traversed – then boom: the second pregnancy and second birth, complete with birth photographer.

The breastfeeding question brings out the judgemental witches, quite probably within herself … It is in this context, in the sleepless ‘wee small hours’, that she writes her first blog and tweets the link – only to wake to nearly a million ‘hits’ and 15,000 emails in her inbox.  The interval is well-placed here: we all need to take a breath.

“In my day …” is the skit that opens Act Two, where the trio wickedly relish sending up two women and a man in an old-people’s home passing doddery judgement on their children and grandchildren. Given their comments, steeped in 1940s and 50s values, I take them to be the great-grandparents of today’s toddlers.

As we move through the swings and roundabouts of self/child and work/life balance, and discover what ‘whisper fighting’ is and what joy “he slept through the night!” can bring, the focus shifts to the experience of being a blogger. Despite the wealth of positive gratitude that the abiding truths of motherhood are being recognised and discussed, the extraordinarily toxic backlash is tough to deal with.

It’s here we discover more about the particular medical issues Emily and her husband have had to confront and endure with Eddie, which have been flagged much earlier on with a mention of Intensive Care. We either relate it to something we’ve experienced or witnessed ourselves, or we have a ‘there but for the grace of God’ response. Structurally this is a classic turning point that brings our ‘hero’s journey’ to rock bottom before the wherewithal is found to rise above it all and triumph.

Had this not been included, the climactic paean to, and affirmation of, motherhood might have seemed a bit over-the-top. But in this context it plays as a robust and joyous conquering of great adversity that strengthens us all. And the surge of sustained applause that greets this ending attests to its efficacy – and to our appreciation of the skills of all three performers and the whole production team.

As I suggested at the start, Rants in the Dark will either generate or revitalise respect for, and appreciation of, our parents – mothers especially. None of us would exist without them. Little wonder, then that the process of bringing this play into the world has inspired the cast and crew to dedicate this production to their mothers.

A hero’s journey indeed.
 – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
*Although Circa’s 2020 Programming Process page still includes their long-standing policy statement “we do not believe in ‘development’ for the sake of it, and are actively searching for playwrights and plays that we can actually produce”, it now also states: “Circa tends to programme projects that have a production model in place (most applications have a director attached), although we will consider new scripts from playwrights with a view to developing these towards production.” 


Editor January 30th, 2019

Here is the link to Sherilee Kahui’s chat about RANTS IN THE DARK with Jesse Mulligan on RNZ National.

Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council