Little Theatre, Library Bldg, 2 Queens Drive, Lower Hutt

06/05/2015 - 14/05/2015

Production Details


Geraldine Brophy and partners are proud to launch Wellington’s newest professional venture, Nextstage Theatre Company at The Little Theatre Lower Hutt with the support of the Lower Hutt City Council on the 6 May 2015.

The evening will premiere a new NZ comedy, Sleeping Around, with Carmel McGlone and Geraldine Brophy in the cast and be directed by Catherine Downes.

It’s a beautiful balmy evening in Honolulu when Relationship Therapist, Barbie, opens the door to her husband of 27 years, Bishop. Clutching a bunch of flowers and a bag of Snickers bars, he announces he will be going away for the weekend with Honore, a French Pilates instructor he met at an Orthopedic conference and that they will be having sexual relations. Barbie and Bishop have an open marriage but in all their 27 years together Bishop has never exercised his right to explore his fantasies. Barbie however has exercised this right many times. She meets the stick thin Honore, “You know the sort, a raisin for breakfast and Anorexia for lunch and dinner” and dubs her The French Fry. 

Barbie is conflicted and with her bag of Snickers Bars and six suitcases embarks on a world tour. Her first stop is a Homestay in New Zealand run by the acerbic Jen, a nurse, whose partner has recently left her. To cope with the ensuing grief and financial insecurity, Jen opens her home and sets up a campsite in her basement. She markets it as “The Outdoor Experience, Indoors” for the Woman Seeking Adventure. Her basement offers a tent to sleep in on fake grass and even bush ambience in the form of Roger, a rude cockatiel. 

Jen’s basement is not Barbie’s idea of a safe haven and Barbie’s freely dispensed therapy and bendy life rules create a challenge for the practical and no nonsense Jen. Barbie and Jen are the ultimate odd couple, who have nothing in common except a desire to find a way forward through the curve ball life has thrown at them. 

However Jen’s Homebrew and Barbie’s ever increasing domestic drama with Bishop and The French Fry promote a friendship of sorts. 

During the four days they spend together the two women are pushed to their limits with grief and the question of how to find Happiness. Ultimately, with the aid of each other and vast quantities of macaroni cheese, some of life’s small problems are solved and a couple of useful strategies for coping with its bigger ones present themselves. 

WHEN: 6, 7, 8, 9, 11, 12, 13, 14 May 2015
WHERE: The Little Theatre,  2 Queens Drive, Lower Hutt
TIME: 7.30 pm
Duration: 90 minutes with 15 minute interval.
Tickets Eventfinder and through iSite.

The Little Theatre is the jewel in the crown of Hutt City’s Arts Precinct featuring a 1500 seat Events Centre, Town Hall, Dowse Art Museum and outdoor performance areas. The Arts Precinct is unique to NZ as a cluster of spaces that serve a variety of Arts practices in a people friendly environment with patron facilities set to grow.

Nextstage Theatre Company aims to provide an exciting destination for the Wellington region, serving a local Hutt Valley audience as well as established Wellington theatre goers and local and international Artists alike.

Nextstage will bring a season of professional theatre to the Hutt Valley, for children and adults.

The season will be a combination of its own work and existing work from other companies both local and National.

Nexstage is committed to enlarging the existing cultural footprint of the Wellington region and providing a much needed alternative venue for professional theatre practitioners seeking a smaller purpose built playhouse.

The Little Theatre was built in 1954 as a proscenium arch theatre, complete with orchestra pit and dressing room facilities for large performance companies.

Her generous stage is equipped to fly set pieces and the auditorium houses comfortable, modern seating for 306 patrons.

The Beating Heart of Art is set to start at The Little Theatre on the 6 May, forging a cultural pathway from The Hutt to Wellington and beyond. 

BARBIE Geraldine Brophy 
JEN Carmel McGlone 

SET DESIGN Ross Joblin
COSTUMES  Jenny Bain Totally Frocked

Theatre ,

1hr 30mins, including interval

An ideal premise for comedy

Review by John Smythe 07th May 2015

“The Beating Heart of Art is set to start at The Little Theatre on the 6 May, forging a cultural pathway from The Hutt to Wellington and beyond,” trumpets the media release. And now this new initiative of the indefatigable Geraldine Brophy and friends has been launched, with the premiere of her new play, Sleeping Around

The branding for Nextstage Theatre Company recalls the original Downstage logo* but indicates a new direction, albeit in a retro venue. The Lower Hutt Little Theatre, was built in 1954 as a small proscenium-arch alternative to large auditoria (like the Opera House and St James), and the orchestra pit has since been covered over to create a large apron stage. There is an irony now in calling it ‘little’ as its 306 seat capacity exceeds such venues as Circa, Bats and the Hannah Playhouse.

A prolific playwright, Geraldine Brophy brings her trademark tragi-comic blend to her new two-hander, Sleeping Around, performed with Carmel McGlone in costumes by Jenny Bain, on a set by Ross Joblin lit by Lisa Maule, with sound by Colin Edson and directed by Catherine Downes: a strong creative team to ensure the success of this exciting and welcome initiative.

Brophy plays Barbie, an American Relationship Therapist from Honolulu, who declares, “Everyone has a right to happiness!” before regaling us with the tale of how her 27 year-old open marriage to Bishop (a surgeon) has been put to the test by his suddenly forming a sexual liaison with “stick thin Honore”, his French Pilates instructor. Hitherto it was Barbie who took lovers and Bishop who never complained. Karma is mentioned more than once as the play progresses.

By way of coping, Barbie has embarked on a world trip, starting with a getaway homestay in New Zealand, billed on the internet as ‘Camp Big Girls: The Great Outdoors Indoors’. Jen (McGlone), a nurse-on-leave whose partner has recently left her, has set up a tent and some other trappings of camping on fake grass in her basement. And Roger the rude cockatiel, though mostly covered and silent, is on hand to add to the ambience of nature.

This is not what Barbie had expected. Nor did Jen expect her first customer to arrive with six suitcases (“2 for day, 2 for night, 1 for shoes and 1 to fill”) and a horror of sitting on the ground, sleeping on a stretcher and drinking home brew, which is all Jen has to offer. While Barbie is compulsively upbeat, articulate and ever ready with positive affirmations, Jen claims to have no sense of humour and to actually hate people. As for happiness, she’s happy to be a misanthrope. They are the classic odd couple with lots to offer each other, if only they knew, which of course adds up to an ideal premise for comedy.

Strangely, on opening night, the scripted differences in character are not as clearly delineated in performance – in the ‘being’ of their characters – as they could be. Instead of drawing us into the intimate intricacies of their changing relationship, they present the play writ large. My guess is they’re over-compensating for what they feel is a large space to fill, whereas the acoustics in the Little Theatre are excellent, especially for spoken word from the forestage where most of the action takes place.

The clear delight and energy McGlone brings to playing her role bleeds into Jen’s character and is at odds with it. While I get that people suppressing their grief can hide behind a façade of brightness, especially when dealing with strangers, I cannot help but wonder how much richer the comedy would be with a more miserable, acidic and grumpy Jen counterpointing and undercutting the compulsively buoyant Barbie.

Nevertheless a wealth of witty one-liners and droll insights do help to deliver a comically complex perception of humanity that interrogates our value systems, exposes our fallibilities and shares our vulnerabilities. There is also an amusing through-line of physical comedy involving things to sit upon.

When this production settles sufficiently to draw us into its reality, allowing us to empathise with Barbie and Jen, wrestle with their dilemmas and engage more subjectively with the pathos while thoroughly enjoying the humour, Sleeping Around will have reached its undoubted potential.
– – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – – –
This from Downstage Upfront by John Smythe (Victoria University Press, November 2004, pp 26-7):
One good thing did come from the poster for Exit the King. Designed by American David Graves, who was tutoring at the Wellington Polytechnic Design School, it silhouetted a playing card king. The symbol in the top left and bottom right corners was a thin-lined logarithmic spiral with an arrow head pointing left or right. It was some time later that Martyn [Sanderson] discovered its significance, in an Evergreen Review essay on Ionesco and the Theatre of the Absurd, and Alfred Jarry and his play Ubu Roi. ‘Ubu had this bloody symbol [without the arrow head] on his jacket and they had a name for it [gidouille]: this was the symbol of the Absurd. And David Graves had come up with it from nowhere!’ In 1965 Martyn’s artist wife, Liz, refined it – with a broader line, half the number of turns and the arrow pointing downwards – to create the Downstage logo. Years later, on further researching Jarry and the pataphysicians, Martyn realised the gidouille symbol was ‘wildly, wildly inappropriate to Downstage, being a symbol of bloatedness, originally emblazoned on King Ubu’s paunch. But as a true pataphysician one could argue that its utter inappropriateness is what makes it so appropriate.’[i]

[i]      Sanderson, DTOHP, OHC 111-21 and -22; Martyn Sanderson, note to JS, October 2003.


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Unusual and stimulating comedy

Review by Laurie Atkinson 07th May 2015

Odd couples create comedy. Neil Simon’s Felix and Oscar are proof of that, and so are Geraldine Brophy’s Jen and Barbie. 

Sleeping Around is an eccentric odd couple comedy with which Geraldine Brophy launched her Nextstage Theatre Company at a gala opening on Wednesday night. This professional company’s home is The Little Theatre in the heart of Lower Hutt.

It is not, as the title might suggest, a sex farce but a comedy tinged with pathos about two women: Barbie, a therapist from Hawaii, and Jen, an oddball gay Kiwi. [More]


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