Someone Like You

BATS Theatre, Wellington

02/08/2012 - 11/08/2012

Production Details

Award-winning Director presents a crushing new comedy  

Chaz Harris, director of award-winning 101 Dates and The Shoe Box, will present his first play at BATS Theatre this season.  Titled Someone Like You, the play explores some of Harris’ personal experiences with romance and heartache.   

Have you ever thought about giving up on love? Will Butler has. After a recent crush gone bad, he takes a self-proclaimed vow of celibacy. However, his hopelessly romantic flatmate Frankie and brutally honest co-worker Renee have other plans.

“Most people have experienced infatuation and heartache with a lot of interference from others” said Harris.  “But sometimes, we need to look back and laugh about it if we’re ever going to move on”.

It’s a play about expectation and a play about love.
It’s a play about fantasy and lies that aren’t true.
It’s a play about being gay and all of the above.
It’s a play about heartbreak and someone like you. 

Someone Like You is presented by Seriously Entertainment and will have its world premiere at BATS Theatre 2-11 August, 2012 with 8 performances. The cast is made up of 5 talented local performers including: Joshua Hopton Stewart, Imogen Thirlwall, Alana Zivanovic, Thom Adams and Josh McDonald.

About Chaz Harris
Chaz Harris worked on feature films and within the development team at Miramax Films in London before moving to New Zealand in 2006. He has since made short film The Shoe Box and the award-winning* web comedy 101 Dates (*LA Web Series Festival 2011). In 2010, he won’s Blog Idol 2 competition and wrote their popular Over the Rainbow blog. Someone Like You is his first time writing and directing for the stage and his next short film Broken Glass, a fantasy/drama about bullying and domestic violence, is currently in post-production.

Someone Like You
at BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington:
6.30pm, Thursday 2 – Saturday 11 August 2012.
Online bookings:
or phone: (04) 802 4175.  

Promotional video:  WILL:

Will Butler – Joshua Hopton Stewart
Renee Robinson – Imogen Thirlwall
Frankie – Alana Zivanovic
Tom Walsh – Thom Adams
Dean Cooper – Josh McDonald  

Writer/Director – Chaz Harris
Stage Manager – Charlotte Wells
Lighting – Brady Kuech
Sound – John-Paul McCarthy
Set Design – Theo Wijnsma
Make Up Artist – Rin Vejsawarn
Casting Director – Rebecca Parker
Publicity – Tory Whanau
Front of House – Luciana Marcoch, Bonnie Riley 

Delightful honesty

Review by Lynn Freeman 10th Aug 2012

Chaz Harris introduces us to the unlucky in love Will, who is trying to write a book about relationships even though he’s never had one. Young, gay and prone to falling for the wrong men, he feels doomed to a life of celibacy. But his gal pals refuse to let him give up and Renee makes it her mission to find him Mr Right.

The story has been told many times before in similar guises but Joshua Hopton Stewart is winningly engaging as Will and you really really want him to make it work with the lovely Dean (Josh McDonald).

Imogen Tirlwall is wonderfully assertive as Renee while Alana Zivanovic is handed an irritating part as the musical loving Frankie and isn’t able to do anything to make it work.  

Harris both wrote and directs Someone Like You, he’s done good work on both counts. He calls it a ‘cocktail of truths and experiences’ and its honestly is a delight.


Julie Roberts August 12th, 2012

I saw the play yesterday. I thought it was brilliant. I liked the fact that it didn't try to teach, preach or educate me. It was accessible to all the audience who could identify with the story regardless of their sexual orientation.   I enjoyed the way the characters interacted with each other. If they had spent hours droning on to each other about how they felt.... I would have switched off....or vomitted. ( possibly because I have reached the age of cynicism..romantic love bah humbug).It would have ceased to be funny...or a comedy.  The theatre was packed and all the audience were clearly enjoying the play which in todays tough economic times is in itself an achievement. Sometimes play wrights can lose their audience by trying to be  too clever.  That aside, previous reviews which infer the play was a bit one dimensional ..seem to have missed the real sense of poigniancy which runs alongside the comic quibs. The comedy lightens the darknes, without which it may have been too painful to watch. The comedy allows us to view a tough subject matter and reflect. so in short a really enjoyable piece of theatre....excellently executed, written, directed and performed.

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Light touch on timely love story

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 07th Aug 2012

A programme note from Chaz Harris, the writer of Someone Like You, says of the play “it’s about love and about being gay”.  

But this is no rite of passage or “coming out” play; that the central character Will (Joshua Hopton Stewart) is gay is a given – no questions are asked from either his flatmate Frankie (Imogen Thirlwall) or work mate Renee (Alana Zivanovic).  And in Will’s situation the trials and tribulations of him trying to form a relationship with someone is seen as the same as if he were straight.

Given that currently there is a bill before Parliament for same sex marriage the play seems somewhat timely.

And while the actual writing of why Will decides to declare himself celibate after meeting Dean (Josh McDonald) but then has seconds thoughts after meeting Tom (Thom Adams) is somewhat simplistic and slightly Mills and Boon, there is a warm feeling of empathy for Will’s situation that develops amongst the characters through the writing. 

He is a telemarketer by day but his passion is writing. He is currently working on a novel, which one of the characters says is not a bad first draft, especially his extensive use of metaphor.  The play itself is much like this, full of metaphors associated with love and relationships.  Many are genuinely funny and help to hold together the rather naïve story line.

Also directed by Harris, the play moves fluidly from scene to scene although at times there needs to be more dramatic tension and the naturalistic style of playing is almost too laid back because often the dialogue becomes too quiet and inaudible.

However all the actors do well in their roles. As Will, Hopton Stewart has a very endearing quality to his performance and, although played almost too naturalistically at times, comes across as real and genuine.  His fluffy and forever romantic flatmate Frankie is well played by Imogen Thirlwall, while in contrast Alana Zivanovic plays the brazen and forthright workmate Renee with the right amount of bite.

The two roles of Will’s love interest are also well played by Josh McDonald and Thom Adams to make this an enjoyable production of a light, undemanding play.


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Potential founders in shallows

Review by Helen Sims 04th Aug 2012

Reflecting on Someone Like You, I came to the realisation that the problem with it is identified by its main character in the opening monologue. Will is writing a book about relationships. The fact he’s never actually had one won’t get in his way.  Someone Like You is a play about relationships – or at least the ridiculous, anxiety-riddled torture we go through on the way to ‘being’ in a relationship. However, the play never gets beyond the first date.

Will is a young, trendy Wellington guy.  He works in a call centre for a communications company, but his real love is writing. His speech is peppered with pop culture references. He views relationships like a game of rugby – requiring strategy and the courage to run the field in order to score.  He’s gay and although prone to developing intense crushes, is defensive when it comes to love. As he says, he’s hovering on his own try line.

The current object of Will’s affection is Dean, a cute guy in finance who he spotted at work drinks. Will summons up the courage to ask Dean out, and is crushed to find out Dean is seeing someone. But wait! His gossipy cubicle mate Renee tells him Dean has broken up with his boyfriend.

An awkward coffee date ensues, and Will is once again devastated to learn that he and Dean have nothing in common. In fact, Dean doesn’t like reading or books. A period of despair and vow of celibacy follows the disastrous date – apparently Will can’t endure the slings and arrows of dating as well as the rest of us.

The meddling Renee is not giving up though. Using her privileged position as top salesperson she manipulates Will into training Tom, the cute new gay guy at work. Tom is a dream (he loves books) and genuinely interested in Will – but due to Will’s recent heartbreak he’s not receptive to Tom’s attentions. Tom makes a brave pass – but will Will pick it up and run with it?

Writer and director Chaz Harris says in his programme note the play is “truths and experiences cranked up to 11 for dramatic effect”. The play could have benefited from a little less cranking up and a little more emotional truth.

A rare moment of depth occurs when Will and Tom get some lunch and open up about what’s holding them back – but it quickly descends back into the quips and excessively drawn out sports metaphor that marks the tone of the rest of the play.

Although Harris clearly has a flair for comic writing, he has yet to grasp that light and shade are essential for a well-rounded comedic play. If the play was to be re-worked, it could be interesting to explore the fact that Will seemingly has no problem intruding into the lives of complete strangers with a sales pitch, but has severe intimacy and communication issues in his own life.

The actors put in energetic performances, if also lacking in depth. The bulk of the play is carried by Will, played by Joshua Hopton Stewart. He delivers his monologues with good comic timing. 

Imogen Thirlwall as Renee has perfected the art of the knowing look. However, both she and the other female character, Will’s flatmate Frankie (Alana Zivanovic), are essentially ciphers for Will. There is little to no development of either of their characters, although they are allowed a slightly pointless musical number together. Frankie in particular is so one dimensional as a character that I wondered for a while if she was Will’s imaginary friend.

Dean (Josh McDonald) barely features in the play apart from the coffee date scene. Thom Adams brings refreshing truthfulness to the character of Tom and is the only member of the cast not to indulge in over-acting. He’s far more likeable and watchable as a result.

I liked Theo Wijnsma’s set, which colourfully spans the stage of Bats and allows for easy transitions into multiple settings.  However, an unfortunate over use of blackouts impedes the possibility for quick and fluid transitions between scenes.

The lighting design also makes use of a spotlight for Will’s frequent monologues, including in the middle of scenes. This would have worked well if Hopton Stewart had been able to successfully find his light, but unfortunately he missed it a number of times, leaving his face partly in blackness. I’d suggest cutting the technical gimmicks if they can’t be pulled off flawlessly.

As a director Harris is a tad one-note. Actors have a tendency to face the audience and deliver lines, rather than one another while they talk. This means a play that has intimacy as one of its themes suffered from a near total lack of intimacy between the characters.

The exception is again the lunch scene between Will and Tom, which is played with refreshing simplicity.  For the first time in the play I felt that the actors were really talking and listening to each other. I wish more of the play had been in this style – it may have been a more engaging watch.  Instead at points I felt like I was watching a clichéd American sitcom.

As we walked away my partner (who I had a huge crush on before we got together) muttered something about first-world hipster-kid problems. I couldn’t help but agree. Chaz Harris’s exercise in laughing at himself turns into something a little too self indulgent and self-obsessed for my liking. This is a shame, as he has hit on a subject that has instant recognition for most people and huge comic potential. It has some very witty lines, but the overall premise and execution is too shallow for my liking. 


John Smythe August 10th, 2012

I saw Someone Like You last night and it has clearly relaxed into itself well, flowing nicely with fluid transitions and good comic timing. And the bright spot for internal monologues works well now, constantly getting laughs from a full and entertained audience.

Nevertheless I feel most of the script problems identified by Helen remain. The play is hugely over-written, explaining and repeating itself to the nth degree, leaving nothing for the audience to discover. Yes, what’s being said is true enough in the way that clichés are true, but Harris has yet to discover the value of subtext and the truism that less is more.

Also, isolating the quest-for-love story and giving it no context whatever in a wider world – where other activities, relationships and issues could be used to create barriers, avoidance opportunities and/or put things into perspective – both reduces the story’s ‘real world’ credibility and increases the sense of ‘first world’ self-indulgence. Certainly Will has a job and relationship with Renee and Frankie but their total focus on his love life makes them – as Helen says – ciphers. 

I cannot deny others in the audience seemed to enjoy it but I left feeling patronised and underwhelemed. 

Sophie August 6th, 2012

I disagree with some of the negative comments in this review. I saw the play on Friday.

Regarding the comment on lighting and pulling of the lighting and scene changing perfectly. There is limited space at BATS - the lighting was a perfect use of limited space and light hearted self reflection well.

One dimensional? it's a one hour production and the balance of characeters was perfect for the story Harris is telling.

Modern day kid problems? The story is about a gay guy. Regardles off that fact, everybody i have spoken to says there is at least one element of the story that they can relate to. This is a feat, to be able to tell a story where your audience gets not only laughs but can relate to the human truths and idiosyncracies of life.

Sp the play never gets past the first date...Do you not think that if it had of done - a huge amount of detail would have been lost. It's not about the getting into a relationship that the play is about. It's about a little slither of time leading up to it- and they nailed it quite frankly.

Everyone is entitled to their opinion but if I left BATS with a huge smile and an evening well spent, I would think that's a pretty grand achievement for the actors and myself.

I liked it. And so has everybody I have spoken to.

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