BATS Theatre, The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

28/05/2019 - 01/06/2019

Production Details

A love letter to small town Aotearoa”– Courtney Rose Brown, Playwright.

Running Late is moving, relevant and quintessentially Kiwi: this play speaks authentically to trying to get somewhere in the middle of nowhere.

A story of powerful encounters between strangers. It is a character-driven play, a nuanced exploration of small town mentalities and the positive influence of new perspectives. Aotearoa is working through some growing pains, from the rise of mental health awareness movements like I Am Hope, to the acknowledgment of our growing poverty and cultural disparities.

Playwright Courtney Rose Brown hopes that Running Late will be a tool of introspection and connection; where the audience will learn alongside our heroine with each scene offering them an eye opening experience to reflect on their own ideologies and opinions. Following the nationwide success of Brown’s award-winning play The First Time*, Running Late is a story that brings a diverse range of authentic perspectives and voices into the limelight.

“When I started university, my sense of identity grew into something which clashed with my working class, Pomare born, conservative roots. I learnt to proudly wear words, previously, I would have spat out. Identities like feminist and bisexual, once insults, became badges. This play is a celebration of those formative moments, and situations where we are able to discover a world outside the one in which we have been raised.” – Courtney Rose Brown.

Running Late has already gained success prior to its world premiere at BATS Theatre in May. The script received ‘Highly Commended’ in Playmarket’s “b425” 2018 and won Playmarket’s “Plays for the Young” (teenage category) in 2017.

Running Late runs for five nights only.

BATS Theatre: The Heyday Dome, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington
Tuesday the 28th of May to Saturday the 1st of June 2019
6.30 pm
Tickets are $15-$20
Bookings through

Running Late explores important topics such as sexuality, gender, identity, and mental health. For further information about the show you can email

Emma Katene, Shay Tanirau, Harriet Hughes, Kelsey Robson, Jackson Herman and Courtney Rose Brown. 

Production and stage managed by Beth Taylor
Assistant staged managed by Olivia Flanagan
Production design by Anne-Lisa Noordover
Original composition by Evangelina Telfar
Lighting designed by Isadora Lao

Theatre ,

Not yet more than the sum of its parts

Review by Claire O’Loughlin 29th May 2019

Having heard about Courtney Rose Brown’s new play Running Late for the past two years, after it received Highly Commended in Playmarket’s b425 competition in 2018 and won the teenage category in Plays for the Young 2017, I was excited to see it finally coming to life onstage at BATS Theatre last night under the direction of Te Auaha graduate Shauwn Keil.

Anna-Lisa Nordoover’s well-designed set establishes the world. We are in a forgotten, neglected corner of a New Zealand town. The covered bus shelter is tagged with graffiti, there are leaves and rubbish under the seat. An overflowing rubbish bin tells us that we must be on a municipal services route – a key feature for placing us in the suburbs rather than a completely rural setting. But I get the sense that we really are on the edge of the city/rural divide here, with sheep bleating nearby.

The house lights dim and the lead character Jamie, played by Emma Katene, is ejected violently onto the stage in an explosion of light and car noises from the stage right door, screaming at the driver who zooms away. It is a violent beginning and a bold premise. Her school uniform tells us that although she is a young woman, she is clearly still a child, and I immediately wonder if this is actually going to be a hard-hitting drama about child abandonment and neglect.  

But it’s not. Instead, it is more about a young person learning and growing. Jamie ends up waiting at the bus stop for 3 days, and over this time encounters a series of other young people who come by the bus stop, each dealing with their own issues, and each teaching her something.

Every actor fully embodies their character and I recognise each of them as people I’ve known – Jackson Herman playing the drunk good bloke, Kelsey Robson as the woke feminist, Harriet Hughes as the (really quite funny) closeted Christian, Courtney Rose Brown as the supportive but firm friend who knows what she wants.  

A stand out for me is Shay Tanirau as trans character Charlie, who has the most complex character – at once shy, angry, kind and mature. Shay, who is trans themselves, plays Charlie with real humanity – they are the only one who returns to see if Jamie is okay, and I sense they are the only one who really knows what it is like to not fit in and to have nowhere to go.

But the premise of ‘young wahine Māori who learns about life by watching other people’ is problematic to me, and makes me uncomfortable. As a rebellious teen, Jamie seems fundamentally subordinate, but I don’t know why it has to be that way. I would like to see more complex exchanges between Jamie and each person she meets – what could she teach them? 

As much as I enjoy each individual performance, the whole thing simply does not hold together in a satisfying way. For a script that is deliberately set in a stalled, stuck place, there is huge potential for an internal journey of learning and discovery, but we never really see that. Running Late never finds a way to go deep or be more than the sum of its parts. The performers earn laughs from the audience for delightful little things they do or say, but there is nothing bigger here to hold on to.

While Emma Kitane is a stand-out performer and a lovely, funny Jamie, we need to see her growing and changing to feel connected to her. Some logic issues get to me as well. I keep wondering – how can she survive without water for 3 days? How is she not getting cold at night?

The lack of development and build in the story and Jamie’s character means that disappointingly (spoiler alert…) the final moment when her – clearly abusive; that’s a whole other kettle of fish – boyfriend returns to pick her up, and she refuses the ride (…ends), doesn’t really land or feel as important as it should. 

This is director Shauwen Keil’s directorial debut, and while he has brought out strong character performances and interactions, what is missing is overall purpose, drive and build.  Toi Ngākau Productions are doing a really great thing providing opportunities for emerging theatre practitioners but I also wonder if what is needed is more opportunity for mentorship and feedback throughout the production process, to ensure that the production and script come together as a rewarding and gripping whole. 


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