Short+Sweet Auckland 2010

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland

19/01/2010 - 31/01/2010

Short+Sweet Theatre 2010

Production Details


“Snappy plays proudly catering to audiences with the attention span of a goldfish.” The Australian

Short+Sweet, the largest ten minute theatre festival in the world – which currently runs in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Singapore and Malaysia – comes to Auckland in January 2010. 

Over two action packed weeks Short+Sweet Auckland 2010 presents the best 40 plays and theatre works from local and international writers presented by some of the best established and up-and-coming Auckland artists.

Short + Sweet’s season consists of forty ten minute plays – plenty to keep you interested for two whole weeks.  There are four separate seasons within one:
Top 20 Show 1 – 8pm from Tuesday 19th to Saturday 23rd will feature plays 1 -10.
Top 20 Show 2 – 8pm from Tuesday 26th to Saturday 30th will feature plays 11-20.
Wildcard Show 1 – Saturday 23rd’s matinee at 3pm which will feature plays 21 – 30.
Wildcard Show 2 – Saturday 30th’s matinee at 3pm which will feature plays 31 – 40.

Then in one show only on Sunday 31st the best plays from the whole season will be selected for the Gala Finale show where they will fight for the supreme awards!

See each of the four seasons and vote for your favourite play. Then go to the Gala Final to find out who the winners are and see if the judges agree with your opinion. After all it is a competition!!

Tuesday 19 – Sunday 31 January 2010

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre

Pricing Information
*Service fees will apply
Adult: $25.00*
Concession: $20.00*
Student: $20.00*
Group (8+): $20.00*
Gala (31st January): $35.00*
Concession* (Student, seniors, Silo card holders, Actors Equity, DANZ card holders)

Duration: 2 hours (including interval)   


Final results

Review by Theatreview Editor 01st Feb 2010


From the Short+Sweet Auckland website 

Auckland writer B.C. Thomson’s hilarious comedy about very modern malaise Diagnosis scooped the pool at the Gala Final of the highly successful inaugural Short+Sweet Auckland at the Herald Theatre at THE EDGE last night [31 Jan 2009].

Diagnosis won the best director award for Cameron Rhodes, best actress for Bronwyn Bradley, Best Comedy Script for Thomson himself as well as the Short+Sweet Award, the major award for the Best Overall Production of the Festival.

The other half of the award winning cast was Mia Blake, who was also nominated for the night’s Best Actress award.

It was a wonderful home coming for Thomson who lives in Sydney these days and has known Rhodes for over twenty years.

Another local product scooped two of the major awards with The Oryza Foundation for the Asian Performing Arts production of evocative The Mooncake and the Kumara winning Best Drama Script for Kiel McNaughton and Mei-Lin Hansen as well as the Best Actor Runner-Up for Gary Young as a Chinese immigrant farmer in Manawatu trapped between a fading past and an uncertain future.

The other big winner on the night was Australian writer Andrew O’Keefe’s touching comedy of unrequited love, Uncomfortable Silences that won the People’s Choice Award for the most popular play/theatrework as voted by audiences throughout the festival as well as the Best Actor award for Mark Scott for his beautiful and funny performance as the love-lorn Nick.

Talented young writer, director and actor Tama Jarman took out the Wildcards Winner award for La Vie Dans Une Marionnette (The Life in a Puppet), featuring the talents of dancer Justun Haiu as the mis-behaving marionette.

In other awards on the night Josephine Stewart-Tewhiu won Best Actress Runner Up for her funny and moving performance in Tipping Point and recent Unitec Garduate Chloe Lewer won Best New Talent for her stunningly versatile performances in two Gala Finalists 10,000 cigarettes and Wild Things.

Best Independent Theatre Company went to The Oryza Foundation for the Asian Performing Arts for their production of The Mooncake and the Kumara.

Award winners won first class wines from one of the festival primary sponsors, Destiny Bay Vineyards while the People’s Choice Winner also won a tour from Waitakere Tours.


The Short+Sweet Award – for the best overall production
ITC: Twin Otter
Writer: B.C. Thomson (Auckland)
Director: Cameron Rhodes
Cast: Mia Blake (Sue), Bronwyn Bradley (Lynne)

The People’s Choice Award – for the most popular play/theatrework as voted by audiences throughout the festival.
Uncomfortable Silences 
Writer. Andrew O’Keefe (Australia)
Director. Vicky Yiannoutsos
Characters: Mark Scott (Nick), Lisa Brickell (Angela)

Wildcards Winner
La Vie Dans Une Marionnette (The Life in a Puppet)
Writer: Tama Jarman (New Zealand)
Director: Tama Jarman & Justin Haiu
ITC: Masquerade Ball
Cast: Tama Jarman (Pianist), Justin Haiu (Puppet)

Best Comedy Script

Diagnosis, written by B.C. Thomson

Best Drama Script
The Mooncake and the Kumara, written by Keil McNaughton and Mei-Lin Hansen

Best Director
Cameron Rhodesfor Diagnosis

Best Actor:
Mark Scott for Uncomfortable Silences

Best Actor Runner Up:
Gary Young for The Mooncake and the Kumara

Best Actress
Bronwyn Bradley for Diagnosis

Best Actress Runner Up:
Josephine Stewart-Tewhiu for Tipping Point

Best New Talent
Chloe Lewer for acting in 10,000 cigarettes and Wild Things

Best Independent Theatre Company
The Oryza Foundation for the Asian Performing Arts for The Mooncake and the Kumara


Make a comment

Wildcard Show 2

Review by Lillian Richards 31st Jan 2010

This being the last review for the Short + Sweet 2010 festival of plays, I would like to take the opportunity to say that, as a festival, as an idea, as a thing to do on an evening or afternoon, as an example of talent and of unearthing gems, as a place to be in the dark surrounded by potential, the Short + Sweet Festival is a perfect example. Its apotheosis is reached at the Gala Finale tonight (Sun 31 Jan) and I would urge you to be there, where all the best of the best (and when it was good it was brilliant) will compete for the title of ‘winner’.

[Note: There were only 9 entries in Wildcard Show 1]

10. Native Speaker
This Pinkerton Syndrome play is about a non-Caucasian who applies for a job as a native speaker. However, the interviewer claims that the position is filled. The applicant believes that he isn’t being hired for some other reason until the world gets turned upside down.
ITC : The Oryza Foundation for Asian Performing Arts
Writer: Dean Lundquist (Singapore)
Director: Jenni Heka
Cast: Leand Macadaan (Applicant); James Wenley (Office Worker)

Whilst racism no doubt lurks beneath failed job applications left right and centre, Native Speaker fails to lampoon the tragic comedy of persons stupid enough to judge aptitude by origin. The attempt is worthwhile but the script is circular and doesn’t reach the real pith of this subject.

That circularity could have been intentional, however, as Native Speaker does a good job of portraying the underlying stupidity and irrational nature of the racist philosophy (is that an oxymoron?) by showing how simple the volley of words would have to be in such an argument. Where reason isn’t employed it really is all about ‘no I didn’t’ and ‘yes you did’.

11. Introducing Anna
s/w/f looking for work/love. Bubbly. Empathetic. A good listener. No weirdos plse.
ITC : Impi Theatre Company
Writer: Robyn Paterson (Auckland)
Director: Patricia Phelan
Character: Robyn Paterson (Anna)

Single White Female meets Australian meter maid and becomes a prostitute: Anna is all this and more. Touching on the established goldmine of comedic and emotional content that comes with looking deeply into the thoughts and feelings of someone who sells their body for sex, Introducing Anna, whilst not doing anything new, still manages to be a story about the loneliness that looking for love in all the wrong places can conjure.

Written & acted by Robyn Paterson, this is a very strong one-woman play that fits the format perfectly.

12. Sit Down Please
When this thing called life welcomes so called friends into our world of wonderful we realise that our wonderful isn’t quite as wonderful as we wished.
ITC : Brick Wall Theatre
Writer: Daryl Wrightson (Auckland)
Director: Chris Neels
Cast: Daryl Wrightson (man); Ashleigh Ogden (women)

This plays explanation of itself is just as confusing as the play. As I walked into the theatre I noticed a sign (because it was next to my favourite sign: ‘The Crying Room’ how utterly beautiful is that?) which said “In today’s performance there will be the sound of a gun shot” and I wandered off into a fantastic tangent about some unsuspecting visiting Vietnam VET experiencing flashbacks or a refugee cowering under the Herald’s flap up, flap down seats – but the gunshot came as part of the confusion in Sit Down Please and there were no casualties aside from coherency.

Sit Down Please is somewhere between the horror film The Wicker Man and Spike Milligan’s Bad Jelly the Witch. With all the distraction and insanity it’s hard to see clearly. There is no plot, except in the way your dreams have a plot in that they happen and then they stop happening. The downright oddity of it all has integrity, though the discombobulation would be more effective if it had a point.

Crazy only really works when paralleled with at least a touch of lucidity so we have a spectrum to use when deciding how mad we really are.

13. Breathe
There is a place where you can always be alone, where you have the time to contemplate the mysteries of life and reflect on just how you are handling your little corner of the world. And sometimes it’s the only place you can retreat to when you are different. At least there, there is no one to contradict you. All the objects one clings to for fear of really connecting with another are stripped away, leaving only a son and his father, and the stupid, irrevocable distance between them, that should never have been there in the first place.
ITC : The Oryza Foundation for Asian Performing Arts
Director: Simon Zhou
Writer: Sui-Jim Ho (Malaysia)
Cast: Peter Huang (Son)

Breath is a wake; it’s a speech never made at a funeral never attended. It is about frustration and misunderstandings and the fraught relationship between father and son. However the piece is not believable; it does not inspire us to suspend disbelief; it is not raw enough to do so and there is a failed mixture of comedy and sadness that limits its potential. One minute the son is flippant, the next ready to die, which is a little untenable.

As an idea it has merits and it works well within the format of Short + Sweet however it would have benefited from a more shambled performance with more emotional vulnerability in both the acting and the scripting.

14. The Robbery
A first-time robber attempts to hold up a butcher shop with a sawn-off shotgun, but the butcher, his assistant, and the customer happen to be experts when it comes to robbery, felon psychology, and firearms.
Writers: Kay Wall & Denise Keay (Wellington)
Director: Tim George
Cast: Matthew Norton (The Butcher); Jennifer Clamp (His Assistant); Tim Hammersley (The Robber); Ruth Wynne (The Customer)

The staff of a butchery apprehend an unwitting robber, not with a gun but with pure, raw, condescension. Great.

The script for this, written by Kay Wall and Denise Keay, is fantastic. It is concise and clever and draws on ordinary people who might just, out of sheer obstinacy, be able to talk a robber out of robbing them.

Unfortunately the acting in this leaves almost everything up to the script (and words alone aren’t enough when it comes to theatre), with the notable exceptions of Ruth Wynne who plays a canny customer who knows a hell of a lot about guns, and the bungling robber, played by Tim Hammersley, who carries off ‘harried’ pretty well.

The rest of the cast is either too quiet or not nearly quirky, natural nor offbeat enough to carry off the subtle, whimsical, (moments of The League of Gentleman) script.

15. The Limited Perspective
Waiting in a cafe you are shocked to discover that it is providing shelter for gossiping bankers, old couples, feuding siblings and forbidden lovers… but who are you to judge?
ITC : King Street Playhouse
Writer/Director: Cindy de Wet (Auckland)
Cast: (in alphabetical order) Alvin Maharaj (Cafe Owner); Andrew Morrison (Peter); Ash Jones (Matt); Chris Carlsen (Barista); Dan Veint (Caleb); Hanna Hegan (Monique); Keri Ireton (Lesley); Lucy Smith (Fiona); Monica Stewart (Maggie); Sheryl Stewart (Jasmine); Zoe Cramond (Moana).

The Limited Perspective attempts to engage our seemingly inherent desire to eavesdrop on fellow café goers but this fly-on-the-wall theatre is lack lustre at best. One only listens intently to an overheard conversation if the conversation is interesting.

While an older woman with an under-aged boy, a feuding family and office gossip might have some potential appeal, the script fails to realise this and leaves the audience listening to dialogues that in themselves are not worth listening to.

16. Tipping Point
Three years after their relationship ends, Laura decides she wants Rob back. He won’t call her under any circumstances so she makes the call. Does he love her enough?
Writer: Mark Andrew (Australia)
Director: Melissa Fergusson
Cast: Tama Jarman (Rob); Josephine Stewart Tewhiu (Laura)

Just let me get this off my chest: whoever suggested the grown up persons cheetah suit is a genius. Now that that’s done let me also say that this play is easily the highlight: it is a swift, powerful, genuinely funny two-hander that feels effortless and real. Josephine Stewart, as Laura, does an exceptional job of being still in love yet disappointed and as her counter part, Rob, Tama Jarman, doesn’t let her down.

This is both off-the-wall and easy to relate to, reminiscent of dialogue snippets from Miranda July’s ‘You, Me and Everyone We Know’, except with a sturdy charm all of its own.

17. Mrs Maniben R Patel
The ageing Mrs Maniben R Patel has been in the Rest Home and the Doctor has called all her 3 Children over for an important announcement. What is the news that the Doctor wants to tell them? Will the money that Mrs Maniben has stashed away be distributed? What has fate in store for the 3 children of Mr Maniben R Patel? An hilarious social drama depicting a typical Indian family in New Zealand.
ITC : MigHT-I theatre
Writer/Director: Prashant Belwalkar
Cast: Sushma Thakur (Mrs Maniben R Patel); Kaustubh Pethe (Dr Shah); Bipin Chavan (Jignesh Patel); Andrada Neagu (Mandy Patel); Mrinal Niphadkar (Hansa Patel-Lee); Devdutt Paranjape (Chang Lee); Prashant Belwalkar (Karsan Patel); Jayshree Sonar (Kokila Patel)

A good glance into the expatriate existence of Indians living in NZ, this is a play in the same vein as ‘Meet the Kumar’s’. It has the same energy, the same exploration of stereotypes within Indian culture and the same general noisy confusion.

18. Baby
When you change, what do you leave behind?
Writer: Daniel Zollinger (Auckland)
Director: Reynald Castaneda
Cast: Anton Tennet (Tom); Virginia Frankovich (Lee); Steven Ciprian (Dad); Robyn Donnelley (Mum)

Oh he’s going to get a sex change! No, hold on, hold on; he’s going to have ‘The Change’ in a 2030 kind of sense, as in, he’s going to become part of the internet. Obviously.

The way Baby leads us to believe that our protagonist might be intending to become a womanis clever. It also very lightly touches upon the metaphysical quandary of ‘what is reality?’ Were these two elements further explored perhaps this would be a more interesting piece.

As it stands it is more an unbelievable send off to a guy who has been criticized for ‘running away from his problems’ but who fails to truly explain the deeply interesting thing he is intending to do and its ramifications.

19. Rupert and the Seven Russian Email Brides
When Petra meets Rupert one day at work, he seems quite nice. Maybe they could go out sometime. But first she has to fight off the competition – Darya, Tatyana, Vera, Alena, Sabryn B, Natalia and Olga. A comedy about being very, very lucky in love
Directors: Amanda Prasow and Jo Clark
Writer: Alex Broun (Australia)
Cast: Charlie Unwin (Rupert); Jo Clark (Petra); Lisette de Jong (Vera); Gina Timberlake (Natalia); Amanda Prasow (Tatyana); Amy Waller (Sabryn B); Meleane Bourke (Alena); Renae Maihi (Darya) and Alisha Paul (Olga).

Permit me to mention, my sister got sent an email a while ago with the photo of a young Russian girl, her statistics and a plea for marriage, signed with this message: “I will be waiting for your letter with sweet impatience. Remember that all depends on you. I send you my friendly kiss in your cheek.”

So honestly the opportunity for comedy here is rampant, the idea of basing a play around such desperate human nature is brilliant, though it feels a little rushed as though the writer (an Australian contender, Alex Brown) has conceived it and then patched the rest of the play on top.

Perhaps part of this is due to the overwhelming leap of faith required of the audience to believe that a co-worker would look at a man with a Russian mail order bride harem stuck to his wall and go ‘yeah, yeah, he looks like a good guy.’

If the play was simpler and stuck more closely to the seed idea that exists within those extraordinary emails, works of art and pidgin English, this could have more impact.


Make a comment

Top 20 Show 2

Review by Venus Stephens 28th Jan 2010

11. Mount Head
ITC: The Oryza Foundation for Asian Performing Arts
Writer/Performer: Hiroshi Nakatsuji (Auckland)
Director: Tony Forster

“In Rakugo style, with only a handkerchief and a fan, and seated in a traditional Japanese fashion, Hiroshi Nakatsuji tells the surrealistic story of an avaricious cherry eater and the cherry tree that sprouts from his head due to his gluttonous ways.”

Stencilled mountains backlight the stage. Perched regally in its foreground kimono draped-Hiroshi Nakatsuji opens the night with a mihi (formal Maori greeting), then extends the formality in his native Japanese, then English. I find it endearing to be afforded respect in three different tongues.

When one is ‘welcomed’ into another culture, it allows for an ease of receptivity, as I am finding as I sit subject to the ‘fantastic’ tale, of Mount Head. Simplicity is the master in this piece; a fan and handkerchief give elegant expression to this surreally humorous tale, the inclusion of kiwi inflections like “eh” also help bridge the culture gap.

Pared down from the fuller form it had as part of The Oryza Foundations production of Native Alienz-Asian Tales in 2009, Mount Head has lost none of its wit or appeal. To his credit, Nakatsuji is not only entertaining but also educating. I had no idea the Japanese culture fostered comedy with a history spanning back 300 years or so. Polished and interesting, Mount Head is another jewel in the Short + Sweet treasure chest.

Writer: Tom Taylor (Australia)
Director: Tainui Tukiwaho
Cast: Matt Halliday (Chris) Te Kaea Beri (Sam)

“Two people. A train station. An unattended briefcase. Prejudice versus Preservation. In the war on terror, will suspicion and fear be the big winners?”

Audio of loudspeaker train schedules herald the setting for this piece. Bespectacled Chris (Matt Halliday) stands patiently (stage left) waiting for the train. On a bench behind him, stimulated by boredom, Sam (Te Kaea Beri) is exercising her comic antics whilst peeking over the Art Pages of the NZ Herald. (The prop is a clever nod to the host theatre, and the genre of which it is part).

More audio signals a delay, which prompts the two commuters to interact. A conspiracy theorist vibe is convincingly threaded into the piece as Sam’s vocal ramblings unnerve Matt Halliday’s Chris, progressively escalating his fear, and prompting race based paranoia.

The Example highlights the effects global events thousands of miles away (viz. the War on Terror) can affect our everyday behaviours when mixed with hyperbole and ignorance. It is a telling portrayal of “Prejudice versus Preservation”.

Writer: David Sharpe (Australia)
Director: Louise Tu’u
Cast: Ben Legg (Isaac) Stephanie Liebert (Mother/Mrs Lucas/Paula)

“Fast cars, lucid women and…peanut butter. Mandragora lays bare a young man’s memories of a fateful night”.

I enjoy being shown a story through the vision of a collective. Mandragora has cleverly used the smarts of such a collective (in this case) cast members Ben Legg, Stephanie Liebert and Director Louise Tu’u. The theatre adage ‘show don’t tell’ runs a dominant vein through this story.

Ben Legg’s Isaac convincingly beats along with a steady pulse of dialogue, stressing about the confusion he is experiencing since being involved in a car crash. Stephanie Liebert represents three female characters in the script; she transfers from each individual with ease.

An ‘M’ shaped ladder, marbles, and two primary coloured buckets contribute a clever effect: Isaac literally measures out his blurred recollections, allocating the weight of each memory to the buckets, labelled MINE and HIS. Stephanie Liebert’s three characters contribute to ‘Isaacs’ disjointed memories. Like its predecessors in the festival, Mandragora has highlighted why it has pride of place in the Top 20.

ITC: Meddlers Three Productions
Writer/Director: Garrick Burn (Auckland)
Cast: Mark Harrison (Boyfriend) Stacey Musham (Girlfriend)

“Whilst a couple bicker and fight, not only is the future of their fragile relationship on the line, but so too is the ultimate fate of their unborn child.”

This portrayal of one-sided, unrequited love burns in its realism. As the pregnant Girlfriend Stacey Musham stands out with her nonchalant lack of concern for her partner’s sincere attachment to their yet-to-be-born child. Mark Harrison as the Boyfriend is equally convincing. Their heated exchange of verbal abuse, centred on the Girlfriend’s reluctance to continue her pregnancy, is one of the nastiest I have seen in the festival. When she voices her departure from the relationship under a volley of curses, the violence that ensues is awful in its damaging and distressing truthfulness.

As ugly as it is, the cast have shone through with their disturbing intention. I commend writer Garrick Burn for his skill and direction in bringing to the fore a subject on which most of us share a plethora of views. I myself am a strong supporter of the philosophy ‘Prevention is better than cure’.

Writer: Andrew O’Keefe (Australia)
Director: Vicky Yiannoutsos
Characters: Mark Scott (Nick) Lisa Brickell (Angela)

“Nick and Angela have been platonic friends for years. But that’s coming to an end tonight. Uncomfortable Silences is a touching two-hander about the courage it takes to face love.”

The ‘sweetheart’ of the night, Uncomfortable Silences soothes the air of tension left by its predecessor. Enter Nick (Mark Scott) as the ‘colour matched /pattern challenged hero’ of this story. Dressing for a date, he waxes lyrical (in monologue) on the virtues of Angela (Lisa Brickell) his flame haired object of desire. Strains of The Bee Gees highlight the calibre of his social prowess, as he reveals his many attempts to profess his undying love.

From start to finish Scott has the audience’s attention, playing awkwardness with a natural comedic ease. Lisa Brickell complements this with her character’s bubbly inelegance. Angela’s lack of sophistication is endearing, in part is like a remixed version of Bridget Jones.

For all their cosmetic mishaps, the two characters shine a light on the value of wholesomeness. Like watching a chick flick, I silently will a happy ending for the textile challenged pair. Refreshing in its fumbling sweetness, Uncomfortable Silences registers itself as a realistic portrayal of the rocky road to true love.

ITC: Headshot Productions
Writers: David Van Horn, Simon London (Auckland)
Director: Colin Moy
Cast: Fasitua Amosa (Den), Phil Brooks (Adam), Simon London (Chris), David Van Horn (Barnsy), Damien Avery (Ethan)

“When the chips are down will you call the bluff, raise the stakes or have the nuts to go all in? Friendships will be tested. Where do your loyalties lie?”

Corona beer and Backgammon. A guys’ night in, laced up with beers, joints, Jager and the poly version of a stereo: the ukulele. Conversation is minimal as the scene unfolds to the gulps of beer and card shuffling, while a tune (that escapes me) is plucked from the ‘stereo’ with backing vocal added by the card-playing quintet. Den (Fasitua Amosa) is alpha male of the pack; his confidence is stamped on the scene as he displays an offhand interest in the card game.

Barnsy (David Van Horn) seems like the innocent of the group, giving the impression the world’s ills can be fixed with a ‘J’ and a beer. Adam (Phil Brooks) and Chris (Simon London) attend to the beer (drinking it) and play the ‘stereo’. In true male style (I’m biased), the five friends slowly reveal their collective unease for their soon-to-be-married friend. Swearing inflects the scene with protests of loyalty. It becomes apparent the party is in honour of the doomed groom to be.

Drama testosterone style, Four of a Kind is a bloke’s eye view on the conscience-testing pitfalls of loyalty and friendship.

ITC: After Eden Theatre Co
Writer: Angie Farrow (Palmerston North)
Director: Lynda Williamson
Cast: Lana Sklenars (Megan), Brendon Kinch (Elliott)

“Two random lives intersect and embark on a lifetime of living.”

A thought-provoking glimpse into the collision of “two random lives”, Lifetime dares to plunge into a 10 minute adventure of life trials and ‘what if we did this?’ moments.

Lana Sklenars’ Megan darts into the scene in a spray of colour The magenta and yellow pattern colliding on her dress heralds the fanciful nature of its wearer and compels constant attention. Brendon Kinch plays Elliot, Megan’s temporary other half. He too fills each space he chooses to occupy Fresh faced, with fetching accents on his attire, he makes a pleasant match.

As the pair flit around the space imagining a shared life, full and loud, I am struck by the choreography of their movements. The ingenuity director Lynda Williamson has employed to share this light-hearted view of domesticity and love-commitment is original and fresh.

Writer: Neil Troost (Northland)
Director: Jonny Hair
Cast: Stefan James (Roger), Phil Vaughn (Bob) Virginia Frankovich (Karen)

“Roger’s imaginary friend Bob is causing chaos in his relationship with Karen.”

In my opinion, the opportunity to have an imaginary friend in adulthood would be amazing, a little trippy but nonetheless very cool. The Imaginary Friend is a light-hearted jaunt around Roger’s imagination.

Phil Vaughn is Bob, the jaunty and dislikeable Imaginary Friend of Roger (Stefan James). Bob is lewd and loud, with no regard for social graces or niceties. In true bad influence style, Bob lives by his own arrogant and crusty rules.

Roger, on the other hand, is sweet natured, almost to the point of being a doormat. His ‘pick on me’ demeanour makes him a safe bet for the office bombshell Karen (Virginia Frankovich). She works the bossy girlfriend attitude, snapping orders, all in the name of the Roger’s less than tolerant boss.

Initially I was of the impression this skittish portrayal of childhood-lost was a quirky nod to bravado and childhood curiosities. Now, I conclude that ‘Bob’ is a metaphor for Roger’s mental illness. Either way I am not completely sure; I am lost as to what the writer’s intentions are. Nonetheless, regardless of my lack of capacity to comprehend, Imaginary Friend definitely has the panache to hold one’s attention, no matter the span of their imagination.

ITC: Twin Otter
Writer: B C Thompson (Auckland)
Director: Cameron Rhodes
Cast: Mia Blake (Sue), Bronwyn Bradley (Lynne)

“A humorous exploration of the modern tendency to over medicate.”

Diagnosis seems to be having a laugh at the expense of the middleclass homemaker’s penchant to sport spandex as their tribal uniform. Oh what the hell. Who wouldn’t? Well for starters, they wouldn’t…

These times of adversity have led to a plague of nervous conditions: afflictions not raised by the unspeakable act of doing hard work or skipping the hand sanitizer; no, the horrors spoken of in coffee groups dotted around our fair country speak of dangers much worse…

Mia Blake’s Sue and Bronwyn Bradley’s Lynne offer up a hilarious account of society’s new tendency to amplify age old ailments – certainly curable and not life threatening – into full-blown communicable diseases with names as profound and wordy as the letters following the name on a medical degree.

Punchy and quick paced from start to conclusion, Diagnosis has scored favour as a tongue in cheek look into the PC madness that has become so prolific in modern society.


Writer: Jonathan Gavin (Australia)
Director: Adam Fresco
Cast: Michael Morris (Simon), Cindy De Wet (Rita), Patricia Hollran (Diana) Tahl Kennedy (Paul) with LIVE music by Henry ‘Midge’ Perez

“Two strangers meet and form an instant dislike… So begins a comic odyssey of love, lust and loss spanning years and continents – all in just 10 hectic, hilarious, heart warming minutes.

A quirky look at love and its associated mishaps: impassioned loneliness, marriage disintegration, rekindled passion and “miniscule hello’s”… Rita and Simon’s haphazard love / hate affair is portrayed under the dim glow of cell phone light and tacky two-stepped salsa tunes. Sleepless Night is a clever dissection of the much lamented but equally lauded mysteries of the heart.

Believable as a couple, Michael Morris (Simon) and Cindy De Wet (Rita) make a handsome pair as the two misguided lovers. Equally comfortable in their relationship guise, Patricia Halloran (Diana) and Tahl Kennedy (Paul) portray the ‘settled couple’ well.


Make a comment

Wildcard Show 1

Review by Lillian Richards 24th Jan 2010

Reviewer (noun) A person who formally assess or examines something.

Venus Stephens did a wonderful job of setting the tone for the reviewing of New Zealand’s inaugural Short and Sweet performances for Theatreview and so I shall diligently follow in her footsteps.

The works I’m reviewing are the Wildcards, the mavericks or perhaps the underdogs – significantly less polished works than those presented on the opening night. As such the Wildcards are aptly named.

It is an undeniably beautiful thing to watch people make dramatic art: the energy, the time, the use of space and movement, the words and thoughts all playing off each other … There is so much to adore about the integrity of a production such as Short and Sweet. To be given a chance to make such art and a stage to perform it on is something to be praised, but that does not mean that an idea alone is enough.

Watching a play is an experience on so many levels: intellectual, visceral, personal, ideological, and whimsical. It is a tough thing to engage an audience on so many levels and well worth trying because such a success is a great antidote to misanthropy. This is why theatre is important but great theatre is rare.

Tolstoy describes art as a human activity were by “one man consciously, by means of certain external signs, hands on to others feelings he has lived through, and that other people are affected by these feelings and also experience them.”

Here then is an honest appraisal of the effectiveness of dramatic art by the wonderful Wildcard entrants who attempted to affect our feelings through theatre.

1. Citizen 3:
ITC: The Oryza Foundation for the Performing Arts
Director: Yee Yang ‘Square’ Lee
Writer: Davina Goh (Malaysia)

This play looks at how our upbringing can leave us stranded and how race can be as ill defining as hair colour. There is a line in the play – “I have no idea where I come from, BUT, I’d like to keep it that way” – which rather captures the idea of this play and its failings. There is a legitimate willingness to delve into how race doesn’t necessarily inform identity but the play itself feels like it doesn’t know where it has come from or where it is going.

2. Hunterville:
Director: Ben Moore
Writer: Donna Banicevich Gera (Wellington)

An examination of an affair between a teacher and a pupil from many perspectives is a clever idea. There are moments of raunchy lasciviousness that are brave if not slightly unnerving and the exploration of how multi-sided any one story can be is interesting. Yet it lacks a coherency and at times the piece is too confusing for its own good. The cast is strong but the concept is a bit tired and sheds nothing new on the topic of dominating male teacher and petulant over sexualised youth.

3. Homeless:
Writer: Steve Deluxe (Wellington, New Zealand)
Director: Sean Spratt
Cast: Jennifer Clamp (Rachel), Matt Halliday (Gavin), Carl Smith (Charles), Philip Vaughan (Bob)

“Mistaken identities, fathers and sons, ex-lovers, homelessness and the quest for a shopping bag!”

This was the audience winner and with good reason; it is sweet, well acted, with oddball comedic timing and a naivety between the two main characters that speaks of both social awkwardness and the comfort we can find in strangers. It feels like a good short story and a good short story can be a great thing.

4. Squeaky Clean Hotel:
Writer: Andre Surridge (Hamilton, New Zealand)
Director: Katharine Phyn
Cast: Tim White (Hank), Sia Trokenheim (Joan), Andrew Hedley (David), Patricia Hollran (Rosanna)

“This short play is based on an actual incident between a London hotel and one of its guests. A clean little comic exchange about a businessman, his bathroom, and the intractable machinery of hotel customer service.”

This is a genius piece of simplicity (I think); with its sparse focus on plot it doesn’t lose itself in its own turns and intentions (as a lot of the others tend to). An aggrieved hotel guest makes his distaste for hotel soap clear and we go back and forth between well-meaning hotel staff and the irate and misunderstood guest. The script is tight, clever, clean and effective. The cast is all good but the efficacy of the entire piece seems to land squarely on the shoulders of Tim White who played the hotel guest, Hank. His Southern accent is so impressive I rather squirm in my seat.

5. Well Hung:
Writer: Laurence Dolan (Auckland)
Director: Bruce Brown
Cast: Dan Veint (Man 1), Matt Hudson (Man 2)

“When the car breaks down they resort to a night in a motel, but why were they together in the first place?”

Two men end up in a hotel room together under unexplained circumstances and of course we all jump to the familiar scenario: expatriate picks up rent boy. Not so.

Well Hung is a good piece of writing. Again it doesn’t force too much into a small space and as such relies on the quality of conversation to hold our interest. What is most exceptional is the acting of Dan Vaint who plays personable, interesting, quirky and natural as though he isn’t acting at all (which, although it may seem counter intuitive, is a compliment of the highest order).

6. Flatmate:
Writer/Director: Amanda Prasow (Auckland)
Cast: Jordan Blaikie and Belinda Di Vito

“Two flatmates come home to share an evening like any other. A tribute to those unique relationships closest to our hearts: more than friends, less than lovers and almost family…”

Two minute noodles, that ‘I need a pen’ look, bickering and latent sexual tension: just an average night in a flat.

The script for Flatmate seems to rest on the use of props – no realism is spared, from an actual jug to a computer and chairs. This is most likely due to the lack of content in the play where a pretty lack-lustre couple of average 20-somethings have a night in that ends with a repressed pash. What is lacking is friction and craft. The idea seems to be to examine the ordinary, which is a worthy concept, but requires a huge level of wordsmanship (sic) in order to not come across as, well, ordinary.

7. Violets Are Blue:
Directed (and revised) by Jack Woon
Writer: Venus Stephens (Auckland)

The title of this play is such a sweet pun (the main character is a depressed woman named Violet) and it gently sets the tone for what follows: a loving and believable look into how often people go unnoticed and uncared for and the detrimental consequences this abnegation of humanity can cause. I can imagine the bus stop where these two ladies meet and I feel like I know them; I can agree – that is what they would say. However sweet, it could benefit from being even sweeter, a little tighter; from cutting even closer to the bone.

8. Great Sexpectations:
Director: Jo Clark
Writer: Adam Walters (Australia)

Another puntastic title tipping its hat to the apparent ticking time bomb that women over thirty become in their hunt for security, sperm and a place to lay their weary nagging head. The acting in this piece is strong, which it has to be as a dinner party scene has to be perfect to hold your attention and get you to believe in the ‘organic-ness’ of the banter. However the twist is a little clichéd and the overall theme a tad contrived.

9. La Vie Dans Une Marionette:
Writer: Tama Jarman (New Zealand)
Director: Tama Jarman & Justin Haiu
ITC: Masquerade Ball
Cast: Tama Jarman (Pianist), Justin Haiu (Puppet)

“A mime loves to be the centre of attention, but hates having to share the limelight. See what happens when two mimes appear on stage at the same time…” 

This is unanimously the judge’s favourite, and so it should be. I’m not usually a fan of mimes or musicals so I am the perfect litmus test for this outstanding 10 minute broken-down puppet routine. A waspish French mime is irate at the presence of another mime on stage and the conflict is couched in music and dance, which is easily one of the most beautiful things I’ve witnessed on stage (or perhaps off). My only critique would be to say that the piano music would be more efficacious if the keys that were struck had a direct effect on the marionette’s jerky movements. Beyond that this play is irreproachable.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

Quick-fire theatre tests story-telling

Review by Janet McAllister 22nd Jan 2010

Bright young things have produced numerous short films in this country, but short plays? Not quite so many. Happily, this may all be changing: enter stage west, from Australia, the world’s largest festival of 10-minute theatre pieces.

Reminiscent of the 48-hour film festival (but without the two-day production time limit), Short+Sweet is an annual competition which, this year, features 40 plays over two weeks, in four seasons of 10 plays each. The 10 plays voted the best overall will make up the gala finale on January 31.

This is a good, groundfloor way for theatre-types to get experience and get noticed without the heavier financial headaches of producing full-length plays. The staging is necessarily simple; it’s all about the performers and their words, rather than whiz-bang effects. [More]
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Make a comment

Top 20 Show 1: beginning “to change the world 10 minutes at a time”

Review by Venus Stephens 21st Jan 2010

Critic (synonym) detractor, opponent, enemy?!  
Critic (antonym) fan, supporter, admirer 
Admirer (noun) enthusiast, supporter, fanatic, groupie 
The last word, in the noun list, that’s me. I admit it doesn’t have the nicest connotation, but in this case I choose it. I cannot match one word in the synonym listto apply to SHORT+SWEET AUCKLAND’s initial line up of ten of the Festival’s Top 20 Plays, not one.

None of tonight’s plays suck. My stomach is aching and I feel high strung and nervous. I’m vibing on the energy in this space This is what ten minute theatre times ten does to you. Just call me fan-girl.

I’m looking for flaws, and botched lines. I want to see wardrobe malfunctions … any excuse to critique in a biting way. There’s no dirt, the performances I’m observing are incredible … (or as the Aussies would say “Rooly, rooly cool”). The scripts represented are simple and funny, there’s irony, love, a Rottweiler and appliance possession (in the ‘I see dead people’ kinda way). I’m seeing plastic sheeting, improvised sex scenes, phone orgasms, and even fruit bombs. Not altogether. Potty brain.

It’s like a play fruit-salad, full of textured allsorts to feed the attention glands. Yum. Here are the ’fruits’ in performance order and credits also; a snapshot summary of how much I think they rocked.  

1. TONE…

ITC: The Outfit Theatre Company
Writer: The Outfit Theatre Company (Auckland)
Director: Peter Coates
Cast: Andrew Ford, Joel Herbert, Gypsy Kauta, Nicole Jorgensen, Holly Bradfield, Devlin Bishop, Toni Rowe, Sarah Graham, Jacqui Nauman, Ema Barton.

“Hi, you’ve reached Tone… an exploration of theatrical phone convention. We’re not in right now, but if you leave your number after the tone we’ll call you back …Beeeeeep”

This clever ‘dance’ of conversations is centred around phones. Awesome to watch, the sizeable cast performs this piece with polished fluidity; every character stands out. The accompanying audio catches my attention as does the collective … climax.

Writer: Marolyn Krasner (Wellington)
Director: Charlie Unwin
Cast: Simon Clark (Man) Amanda Prasow (Woman)

“A husband and wife recollect their individual brushes with beauty and life in the Greek Isles, inspired by the Rufus Wainwright hit Greek Song.

Dappled light washes the cast and I am allured by the couple’s wistful recollections. I find this artful portrayal of remembrance and yearning, healing, in its truthful telling. Sensual and honest, the performance has captured the resonance of the song for which it is named. Simon Clark and Amanda Prasow give a voice to those ‘what if’ moments and share the haze of excitement new attractions feed.  

3. 10,000 CIGARETTES
Writer: Alex Broun (Australia)
Director: Amanda Rees
Cast: Chelsea Mc Ewen-Millar (Gloria 1), Kate Lumb (Gloria 2), Natasha Davis (Gloria 3), Chloe Lewer (Gloria 4)

“The raison d’être for smoking is pitched by four vibrant young women in this clever comedy with a twist.”

Clever! Yes indeed, the sight of beautiful young women brandishing smokes and vehemently advocating smoking as glamorous has me hooked. They dance around exalting the grand virtues of fag brands till Gloria 1 starts coughing. This isn’t a case of learning from the past mistakes of ‘millions of others’ – the ‘Glorias’ are prisoners to addiction. Terse and ironic, the cast of ‘Glorias’ snap along at breakneck pace exhaling their dialogue in a ‘tongue in chic’ way while counting down to the next cigarette.  

Writer: Christopher Johnson (Australia)
Director: Yuri Kinugawa
Cast: Simon Clark (Borys)

“Sometimes emotion grabs you by the scruff of the neck and shakes you like a dog. How much can you take before you lose your head?”

The humour in this piece is buoyed along by Borys’s sage’like reasoning. Although he’s a dog, he has some interesting, black and white points of view. Writer Christopher Johnson gives Borys human sensibilities, and actor Simon Clark controls them with a believable ‘canine’ delivery, sans obvious panting and barking.

I especially like the way the stage is dressed with a dinner table and meal for one. It elevates the poignancy of the ending. 

ITC: Fingerprints & Teeth Productions
Writer: Renee Liang (Auckland)
Director: Gerald Urqhart
Cast: Julia Croft, Leisha Ward-Knox, Roberto Nascimento, Callum Stembridge

“The lead actress is having a bad hair day, the director’s just having a bad day … Life imitates art as a play is turned literally inside-out.”

If this what you Actors and Directors get up to behind the scenes there’s no wonder you sometimes all seem so … impassioned! Exit Stage is eye candy, some semi-dressed in period clothes. Roberto Nascimento as the Director is like a sexual harassment suit on legs. Callum Stembridge seems to have a lack of co-ordination in his, sporting an impish grin while fumbling about in a daze of undress and holding his carrot.

Femme fatales Leisha Ward-Knox and Julia Croft crunch acerbic banter while gussied up in hoop skirts. With ego driven demands and severe personality clash, they delve to out-diva each other with the unwitting aid of the dozy males. The suggestion of salacious behaviour onstage, steams up the ending and adds to the slapstick appeal of the performance.


ITC: The Oryza Foundation for the Performing Arts
Director: Kiel Mc Naughton
Writers: Mei Lin Hansen & Kiel Mc Naughton (Auckland)
Cast: Gary Young, Kura Forrester, Ally Xue

“1927: In a market garden in Manawatu just before the mid-autumn Moon Festival, a relationship grows between Chao, a Chinese man, and Alice, a Maori girl. But in the shadow is Chao’s wife back in China …”

Food and culture sit at the heart of this story, where cultural divides are bridged and love flourishes out of longing. Chao, played by Gary Young, is the husband character, estranged from his homeland, striving to create a home base in rural NZ. Ally Xue plays the part of Chao’s homeland wife; her emotional fragility is beautifully backlit by an onstage silver glow.

Kura Forrester, as Alice, becomes a source of respite and friendship for the homesick Chao, who softens in the glow of the warmth and kindness she emanates. This wonderful poignant piece resonates, much like a sad love poem. Beautifully worked, it is the highlight of my night.


Writer: Barry Lakeman (Wellington)
Director: Rachel Forman
Cast: Donogh Rees, Josephine Stewart-Tewhiu, Olivia Tennet

“Waiting for Jim is an exploration of three pivotal events in one woman’s life. It is a story that reminds us it is never too late to start again and that a lot can be learnt from the past.”

The actors form a point onstage; a flesh and blood time-line of one woman’s life thus far, like a human triangle. The theme of this ‘union’ is the perpetual habit Donogh Rees has dutifully maintained of ‘waiting for Jim’. Her character is 52 years old, yet still she perpetuates habits of old, continuing to bind herself to a relationship that allows no reciprocal respect.

Josephine Stewart-Tewhiu plays the character at the age of 32, when she’s successful and fully aware of her independent capabilities, yet age hasn’t afforded her good relationship sense. She too chooses to ‘wait for Jim’.

Olivia Tennet plays the character at 16. ‘Waiting for Jim’ Morrison, she’s committed to tendering her heart solely to him. Raving with nubile enthusiasm about the proper care only she can give ‘Jim’, she dots her sentences with hints of intelligence fore-shadowing emerging business smarts. 

In this back and forth triplicate account, one woman’s life plays out before us, and her lessons become lessons for all.


Writer: Michelle Wallace (Australia)
Director: Russell Pickering
Cast: Hera Dunleavy (Mother), Johanna Smith (Aunt) Chloe Lewer (Becca), Sarah Somerville (Judy)

“Becca doesn’t speak. Her aunt calls her a wild thing and her mother is at her wits end, until her cousin Judy looks after her. Sometimes, love is more than words.”

Wild Things plays out snapshot glimpses of the relationship cousins Becca and Judy foster from childhood to adulthood. It is a powerful portrayal of the effect of the healing grace, patience and care on the misunderstood and emotionally neglected character, Becca, played by Chloe Lewer.

The cousins’ relationship hiccups along through the teen years, with Becca experiencing massive lows. All the while Judy, played by Sarah Somerville, is unfaltering in her unequivocal love and care, as she caters to her young family’s needs and her cousin Becca’s needs in equal measure. In adulthood the carer role is reversed, as Becca comes to terms with the onset of a debilitating disease that sees Judy incapacitated.

Hera Dunleavy (Becca’s mother) and Johanna Smith (aunt) punctuate the story with motherly chatter. Mother seems disaffected and sick of her child, Auntie has understanding and empathy for her niece. The cast of four complement each other well.

ITC: Fingerprints & Teeth Productions
Writer: Thomas Sainsbury
Director: Thomas Sainsbury
Cast: Ash Jones (Marcel), Roberto Nascimento (Dario), Nic Sampson (Kurt)

“No-one has been to the thirteenth floor of the Martyn & Wood Building since something horrific, strange and unclear happened on it over a decade ago. That is, till tonight. Come witness Dario, an immigrant Italio-Brazillian cleaner, as he reports for cleaning duty on THE THIRTEENTH FLOOR!!!!” 

What a cool way to (almost) end the night, with a Thomas Sainsbury play. The Thirteenth Floor treats us to mean one liners, awful jokes about Brazillians and pussy….cats. Yes it’s all there, hanging out in green overalls on the 12th floor, bunking work and making poor Dario’s (Roberto Nascimento) first day on the job a difficult one.

His adversaries are vacuum ‘connoisseurs’ and resident bad boys of the cleaning world Marcel (Ash Jones) and Kurt (Nic Sampson), whose bravado is diminished when Dario naively proclaims he’s cleaning the offices on the dreaded thirteenth floor.

Equipped with dumb luck, Dario completes his task and returns physically unscathed but mentally shaken. Unbeknownst to the lads, Dario has ‘passengers onboard’. The scene closes with what I’ll dub a ‘vacuum floor boogie’ with Marcel and Kurt as its dance partners.

These guys pull comedy off like a wax strip. I meant that in the most complimentary way possible.

Writer: Earl T Roske (USA)
Director: Jonathan Hodge
Cast: Amelia Guild, (Smol), Milo Cawthorne (Yamin)

“The littlest things start the biggest conflicts, as the old adage says – He who lives in a glass house shouldn’t throw fruit.”

The scene opens with Smol (Amelia Guild) perched on a seat, reading a magazine. Along comes Yamin (Milo Cawthorne) seemingly attention-starved he’s ready for conflict. Equipped with a sense of indignity over Smol’s “failure to validate his existence” or in normal terms ‘acknowledge his presence’, Yamin proceeds to start a fight…with blueberries.

All audience members within the first few rows of the stage drape themselves in massive sheets of plastic. (Interactive theatre is the bomb…excuse the pun). What ensues is a ‘war’ punctuated with clever and witty dialogue, and fruit ‘missiles’ that get bigger as the dictionary of exchange between the characters becomes more heated. Unfortunately, I am too busy oohing and aahing to take written note of the characters’ colourful exchanges and dialogue. 

A truce is declared once Smol pulls a watermelon ready for action, part of me is curious to see the type of mess a flying melon could produce. I suppose that is one human flaw the story takes its cue from. I find ‘The Fruits of War’ fitting as the closing piece to this first night of Short+Sweet Auckland 2010. It literally closes with a bang.

– – – – – – – –
I do have one complaint: I am only allowed one tick on the voting sheet. That is physically painful for me, sincerely. We ‘theatre groupies’ have a high threshold for voting yes! when we love something.

Not bad a NZ debut for this expanding ‘festival’ (which also runs in Sydney, Melbourne, Brisbane, Canberra, Singapore and Malaysia). Attracting the cream of our writing, directing acting and production talent, its success is assured. Commendations to the production tream (click on the show title to see the production page).  

I wish this Short+Sweet Festival all the best in its continued effort to “change the world, ten minutes at a time.”
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


Michael Wray January 21st, 2010

I too found being allowed only a single tick a painful decision and would have preferred giving a ranked top three. In the end, I voted for my second favourite - a tactical vote because I thought my favourite was likely to get through anyway!

Grae Burton January 21st, 2010

 This festival gives the opportunity for development of a whole independent genre of theatre.  A short play akin to a short film, where open endings have the audience write onwards beyond the conclusion, or simply moving on to the next morsel of entertainment.

A great night - Wonderful, talented actors, original, touching, intense and hilarious theatre, a whirlwind of a night, DON'T MISS IT!  Stand out performances - Chloe Lewer, Liesha Ward Knox, Nic Sampson and the entire team from Tone... can't wait for next weeks installment!


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo