Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

13/02/2014 - 15/02/2014

Beyond Chaffer's Car Park, behind Te Papa, Wellington

06/02/2014 - 11/02/2014

NZ Fringe Festival 2014

Production Details

Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys is just your average gay-straight bromantic comedy with a dark twist. It’s a new play by award winning playwright Sam Brooks, coming to a carpark near you!

“I love you. In a gay way.
As a friend. But also in a gay way.
I love you both ways.”

Kyle is an everyday young gay guy: Over-neurotic, over-enthusiastic and over falling in love with straight guys. Or so he thinks, until the object of his affections turns out to be not as straight as Kyle thought he was.

Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys is just your average gay-straight bromantic comedy with a twist; it’s in a car in a carpark near you! Written by award-winning playwright Sam Brooks (Mab’s Room, Queen, Another Dead Fag) and starring Dan Veint (Romeo and Juliet: A Love Song) and Calum Gittins (Hamlet), the audience is invited into the action as we see Kyle and his relationships play out in real-time in and around the cars of his youth. It’s an hour of hilarity, heartbreak and homosexuality, coming to Wellington Fringe and Auckland Pride!

Behind Te Papa, Chaffer’s Car Park
7pm, 6-11 Feb (55min)
NZ Fringe 2014 

13-15 Feb 2014
6pm | 7.30pm
From Basement Theatre
Lower Greys Ave
Auckland CBD
To book email: smokelabours@gmail.com 
Pride Festival 2014

CALUM GITTINS: (Mostly Straight) Boys 

AMBER MOLLOY: Production Manager
SAM MENCE: Technical Manager
MARSHALL BULL: Rehearsal Stage Manager
DANIEL CRESSWELL: Poster and Programme Design
RICHARD SYMONS: Publicity and Poster Photography

Theatre , Outdoor ,


A journey of self-discovery

Review by Heidi North 14th Feb 2014

Site-specific theatre is always a risk. It’s a wonderful thing to experiment with, but unfortunately in a parked car, right outside the Basement theatre where the audience crowds around the steps to the venue, the stream of people making their way in to see another show (and chatting loudly at the bar) is a very difficult distractor.

Coupled with the fact that it’s difficult to see into the car as the sun reflects off the windows, and the audio was at times difficult to hear above loud traffic, this play becomes harder to engage with than it should have been.

But engaging, despite all that, it is.

Starting with a bang – “I love you” Kyle bursts to straight, best friend Jay, “In a gay way” – Sam Brooks, a prolific and talented playwright has crafted another play that feels heartfelt, as 16-year-old Kyle takes us on a ‘ride’ through his various crushes on straight boys.

You see, Kyle doesn’t drive: a handy excuse to score rides with his various straight guy friends. The car becomes scene of many awkward incidents as Kyle attempts, blunderingly, to tell them how he feels, or, worse, touch them.

Calum Gittins plays the range of straight guys with nicely differentiated nuances, while Dan Vient’s Kyle is honest and awkward. The relationships feel true, and we feel for Kyle as he gets himself into various messes.

The problem with a stage play being set in a car is, while we can for the most part hear the dialogue well, the physicality of the car stands between the audience and the actors, making it difficult to truly engage or empathise. The style is realism, but it is a relief when Kyle bursts out of the car to directly address the audience (and give Gittins time to change into his next costume).

While these audience addresses are funny, sometimes they are overdone. Stripping back some of these revelations and trusting us to get the story through the action would strengthen this piece.   

Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys is a journey of self-discovery that for the most part is well structured and works. It’s funny and unexpected. However, overall the emotional intensity is left defused by the car. If pushed harder and staged differently, this piece could be lifted out of the distractedly comedic, into the genuinely funny and touching.


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Empathy assured

Review by John Smythe 07th Feb 2014

What a clever idea, to solve the problem – and expense, I presume – of finding a venue in a fully-subscribed Fringe by staging your play in a car park. Not that inner city car parks are inexpensive, but then the area behind Te Papa, just round the corner from the Chaffer’s car park, is not an official parking area. And it does boast a handy grassy bank for the audience to sit upon – out of the evening sun and in the teeth of a biting southerly on this opening night, however, so be warned and do dress for the conditions.

While They Saw a Thylacine confines its two female actors to a cage, Riding in Cars with (Mostly Straight) Boys confines its two male actors to a car, for the most part, using interior lighting and microphones to illuminate and amplify their true-to-life interactions. While …Thylacine is poetic and visually stylised, Riding… is highly naturalistic, except for the direct-address narrative links.

Co-winner of the 2013 Playmarket PLAYWRIGHTS b4 25 competition, Sam Brooks is a talented and prolific young playwright. The perils, pains and less often the pleasures of being gay permeate his always humorous and insightful works: Goddess and Mab’s Room (2012); And I Was Like (2013); Queen (2013; soon to be reproduced as part of Queer@TAPAC); Another Dead Fag (2013).

Judging by what he revealed in Corner Diary last year, Riding in Cars… has its roots in Brooks’ own experience as a 14 year-old. Kyle, exquisitely manifested by Dan Veint, has a compulsive habit of falling in love with straight guys. We see it happen, he tells us that’s what he does, his friends tell him that’s what he has to stop doing …

Established right at the start, this aspect seems to be repeated too often – Brooks could trust us to get it, remember it and read subsequent subtext without being spoon-fed – but the dramatic wallop comes with the revelation of why he does it. The initial narrative chats between the in-car scenes segue into an episodic recollection of a school pool experience that begins in rapture and ends … elsewhere (not to be revealed here). It goes to the heart of what can impede all quests for love.

Kyle’s never learning to drive establishes why he gets rides with his friends and becomes a playfully developed metaphor for the real journey he’s on. Water polo – water dripping off naked torsos – is also a recurring motif.

Sharing his journey, mostly unwittingly, and variously tolerating, reacting to and sometimes provoking Kyle as they ‘drive’ the generic Japanese import, are four very different ‘boys’, all beautifully nuanced by Calum Gittins.

The monosyllabic Jay copes staunchly when Kyle confesses his crush. Scottish Shane banters drolly with Kyle over their tastes in films and music before moving away to university. Old school friend Mike makes a brief appearance to show not everyone’s cool with gays. Jay’s friendship is tested. Shane, back on holiday, reports on student life. Jay issues Kyle the challenge he needs. Trent is the answer – or is he? Shane returns and throws Kyle into turmoil. Trent issues an ultimatum. Kyle moves on from adolescent crushes on the unattainable and confronts the reality of where the capacity to love others begins.

Astutely structured, the play seduces us with sparks that dance between deep feelings and light banter then ignites a flare of insight before leaving us to contemplate the road ahead for Kyle. Between them Veint and Gittins experience a full range of feelings and Brooks’ unobtrusive direction of his readily absorbed play ensures our empathy for all five characters.

A bonus in the Wellington setting in the backdrop of Chaffers Marina and a hillside of houses in the setting sun, and the intriguing intrigued of bemused responses of the many passers by, unwittingly cast as ‘the real world’ within which Kyle must find his fate.


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