Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

04/09/2019 - 08/09/2019

Production Details

High school is over and Kyle is going nowhere fast so he gets rides with (mostly) straight boys. He spends his time chasing all the things he knows he can never have, because it’s safer than chasing the things you can. If he ever wants to find someone who loves him the way he loves straight boys he’s going to have to change.
And maybe learn to drive.

Carving in Ice Theatre is proud be bringing a few ‘firsts’ to Hamilton with their upcoming season of Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys by Sam Brooks, at The Meteor Theatre, September 4-8th.

The first Sam Brooks play to be staged in Hamilton, Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys is also the first play to be staged in Hamilton by a winner of both The Bruce Mason Award and The Playmarket b4 25 New Zealand Young Playwright award (Sam Brooks). The most notable ‘first’ of all however, is that this is the first play in Hamilton to be staged in a convertible, a red SAAB 900 Turbo to be precise! 

A play set in a car and previously only staged in carparks, the Hamilton season of Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys is bringing the play inside and onstage, by literally driving a convertible into The Meteor Theatre. 

A coming of age story: Kyle has crushes on straight boys. That’s his thing. However, when one of the straight boys he has a crush on suddenly comes out to him, he’s forced to confront the lifestyle he’s created for himself and where to go from there.

Extract from a review of a 2014 production:
“Astutely structured, the play seduces us with sparks that dance between deep feelings and light banter then ignites a flare of insight” – John Smythe, Theatreview.

Meteor Theatre, Hamilton
Season: 4th – 8th September 2019
Wednesday 4th @ 7.30pm
Thursday 5th @ 7.30pm
Friday 6th @ 5.30pm
Friday 6th @ 8pm, followed by Q&A with Sam Brooks
Sunday 8th @ 4pm.
$12 student | $18 Conc/Senior | $22 Full

Featuring a cast of five young actors, Riding in Cars With (Mostly Straight) Boys has been a truly engaging and thought-provoking experience. Here are some of their responses:

The cast of 5 young actors have all engaged strongly during rehearsals for Riding in Cars With (Mostly Straight) Boys. Here are some of their responses:

Leeim Rowe, plays Kyle: “While the mainstream media only really presents Americanised, filtered and refined queer characters and stories to Kiwi audiences, Sam Brooks gives you raw and freshly cut Kiwi homosexuality in all its glory.”

David Simes, plays Jay: “Sam’s characters are deep enough that we really care for them. I love rehearsing this piece because it is a play that really relates to everyone, even if it is framed with the life of a gay character.”

Tycho Smith, plays Shane: “It’s refreshing to have a story about being gay that doesn’t end in absolute tragedy.”

Liam Hinton, plays Mike: “The play is about the transitional phase between adolescence and adulthood. You are no longer a child nor are you an adult. You are expected to travel towards maturity but have been a passenger your whole life.”

Zach Pickett, plays Trent: “Sam’s play explores the diverse ideal of what It means to be a gay man. It is uplifting to have a story that doesn’t showcase ‘being gay’ as a personality, but rather an attraction of the same sex.”

Leeim Rowe as Kyle
David Simes as Jay
Tycho Smith as Shane
Liam Hinton as Mike 
Zach Pickett as Trent 

Director: Gaye Poole
Production management: Gaye Poole & David Simes
Stage management: Kelly Petersen
Lighting design: Logan Cook
Lighting operation: James Smith
Graphic design: Joel Hinton
Stills photography: Megan Goldsman
Marketing: Hannah Mooney, Gaye Poole, David Simes. 

Theatre ,

Sensitive portrayals

Review by Jan-Maree Franicevic 05th Sep 2019

The Meteor is filing nicely as, wine in hand, myself and my date for the night enjoy the art exhibition in the Nancy Caiger Gallery prior to the ‘curtain going up’. It is the opening night for Carving in Ice Theatre Company’s latest production Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys, directed by Gaye Poole.

The stage is bare but for a shiny red Saab 9000 CD Cabriolet. I recognise the vehicle immediately – in the nineties my father sold Saab vehicles and I always thought these were the coolest of that era. Though the car is fetching, and certainly well cast (a convertible, meaning that the actors can be seen, and heard from all angles) it is upstaged by the arrival of our players.

We meet Kyle (Leeim Rowe), a passenger in the great vehicle of life – he’s riding with Jay (David Simes) and he is in unrequited love! Unrequited, for Jay is not in love with Kyle, neither is Shane (Tycho Smith) nor Mike (Liam Hinton). Sad for him, as straight boys tick all of Kyle’s boxes – but then, don’t we all want for things we cannot have, at one time or another in our lives? 

Kyle and Jay’s initial exchange offers delicious energy which crackles in the air, and so fittingly sets the tone for the rest of the piece, as it flows quite seamlessly from ride-to-ride. Kyle’s never managed to get his full driver licence, so relies on his pals, and in his own lovable way cannot seem to help himself developing crushes on them all. There are plenty of laughs to be had in these early exchanges, and my heart goes soft for Kyle as he explains his crushes, like banging against a wall hoping it will become a door.  

The real challenges arrive with Trent (Zach Pickett) who loves Kyle very much, and when Shane informs Kyle quite bluntly of a change in his lifestyle we see a turning point as Kyle struggles to adapt accordingly.

All the actors give solid performances. Hats off to David Simes who plays Jay beautifully – a real soul connection is visible in his portrayal which I enjoy immensely. As always Liam Hinton is stunning, in his short appearance as Mike. Tycho Smith plays Shane coldly which works, but could work better. Carving in Ice newcomer Zach Pickett is charming and adorable as lovestruck Trent, carefully avoiding overplaying his exchanges with Kyle.  

Leeim Rowe is also a new face in the stable of Carving in Ice Theatre actors, and I can see that this is a challenging role for him; as the focal character he must slide in and out of playing and narrating. While certainly talented, his energy flags around the halfway point and never quite recovers – so there are subtleties which fall a little flat and lose some of their importance. It will be interesting to see if he can increase his fitness in the role over the season.

Playwright Sam Brooks has undoubtedly written a great play: there is an economy of words which sensitively portrays the heterosexual males in cute contrast to our lead Kyle, who is an undeniably ‘out’ homosexual male. Gaye Poole has done well to guide her cast towards empowering that word economy with plenty of expression and physicality which is enjoyable, and lends the necessary richness to telling the story of these male relationships. Logan Cook’s lighting design is striking in its simplicity – working well to depict the moods and spaces within the story.

In the programme, Gaye Poole’s note mentions the premiere of Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys – at Chaffers Car Park, Wellington in 2014. Tonight’s production is different in that instead of two actors fulfilling the five roles (one playing Kyle, while the other plays Jay, Shane, Mike and Trent), Gaye has been granted permission to cast five actors; assigning them one role each. In Carving in Ice Theatre’s kaupapa around working with young practitioners, I can see the rationale for doing so in this instance; it’s a wonderful learning experience for these actors.

Though Poole has cast well, I suggest that, in populating the cast, it has to the detriment of story’s power. I cannot help but think that, in watching the names change while the face stays the same, the focus remains solely on Kyle’s intimate journey towards self-realisation.

My date and I thoroughly enjoyed ourselves, and I leave The Meteor considering returning on Friday evening 6 September, when playwright Sam Brooks will be in attendance, giving an audience Q&A following the performance.


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