The Scruffy Bunny at Courtenay Creative, 49 Courtenay Place, Wellington

11/03/2019 - 12/03/2019

The Scruffy Bunny at Courtenay Creative, 49 Courtenay Place, Wellington

28/02/2019 - 03/03/2019

Production Details

Music. Mayhem. Young Masculinity.  

At the age of self-discovery, how do boys navigate their masculinity and sexuality in an environment where it’s never been a question before? And what happens when they must go through this together?

*NB* Performance details differ from those in the printed programme

The Scruffy Bunny at Courtenay Creative, 49 Courtenay Place
Thursday 28 February – Sunday 3 March 2019
Monday 11 & Tuesday 12 March 2019
Price General Admission $8.00Concession $8.00 Fringe Addict $6.00

Theatre ,

50 mins

Witty, passionate and fairly uninhibited

Review by Tim Stevenson 01st Mar 2019

Bold and brash, sensitive and self-confident, Some Sort of Boy is dedicated to putting across its story of teen life in small town New Zealand by whatever means it can lay its hands on. With this goal in mind, the production offers plenty of variety in its 1 hour span.  

We get live and recorded music, texts and telephone conversations, a dream diary, sex with a saxophone and plenty of dialogue, angsting and reflections on life. All of this and more is delivered with plenty of raw energy and commitment and some inspired use of its kit of dramatic tools. 

So here we are, in familiar territory: small town New Zealand, that place so many people want to escape as soon as possible. David and Daniel have been friends forever, now they’re in year 13; aspiring musicians stuck somewhere in the teen social structure between the chess playing nerds and the rugby guys. Daniel’s going to Auckland to do Commerce next year; David likewise wants to get out of town, he’s not sure how but music seems like his best chance right now.

Meanwhile, it’s the school holidays and the two Ds are putting on a gig soon but they need a new song. Can they write it in time? Can their friendship handle the pressure? What’s in a friendship anyway? The play offers, or suggests, answers to these and other germane questions.

Mark Wittet’s script is witty, passionate and fairly uninhibited (R13); it’s particularly strong on those late-night, darker passages of teenage life when deep doubts and tangles seem to multiply faster than you can clear them away (you get them when you’re older too, but this is not the concern of the play).

Some of the passages in which the two characters reflect on life and their relationship seem a bit stiff and formal; they sound as if they’re being read off the page rather than emerging live out of hearts and minds. The ending is somewhat abrupt and inconclusive, which might be Wittet’s point but may not satisfy audience members who like a play to end with a more shaped resolution. 

Where the script unfailingly comes to life is in the text messaging, projected on a screen behind the actors. It’s fast, often funny, sometimes moving and always effective. The exchanges between David and Daniel are important for carrying the story forward, and they are well up to the task. The choreographed moves that accompany some of the messaging are an added bonus. 

Wittet as David and East Abernethy as Daniel both give outstanding performances. I particularly enjoy the contrast between David – loose, charming, a bit of a slacker – and dogged, earnest Daniel. They both show commendable range, as their characters hang out, argue, laugh and cry, and tentatively explore aspects of their relationship they haven’t tried to uncover before (think masculinity and sexuality, as in the Fringe website). Wittet’s performance is strong on charisma, Abernethy does well in shifting between his character’s more wooden moments and his descent(s) into doubt and sadness. The interaction between the two is seamless and convincing.

As already mentioned, the projection is a feature of the production. Wittet and Abernethy have come up with a screen show of high quality. It looks like teenage device life all there up on the screen: text messages, various kinds of feeds from various apps, videos – full of humour and feeling, admirably complementing the live on-stage performances. AV operator Ethan Morse delivers the goods on the night. There is a slight problem with sight-lines – from where I’m sitting, I can’t see all of the screen, and I really want to.

There are several live musical performances built into the show. They all work well (take a bow, musical director Sean Millward). There’s a funny and highly popular guest performance by Millward and Jacinta Compton, and one of the original songs – can’t say which, to avoid a spoiler – is satisfactory in its own right and also does a fine job of gathering together the play’s themes. 

Congratulations to the entire production team for developing and staging this show. Someone tells me after the show that the shift in venue from the old Scruffy Bunny spot in the readings complex to 49 Courtenay Place [next to the waffle shop] was a bit last-minute, which makes this production all the more of an achievement. 


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