Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, Auckland

09/05/2017 - 13/05/2017

BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

16/05/2017 - 20/05/2017

NZ International Comedy Festival 2017

Production Details


Comedy duo The Bitches’ Box has had rural New Zealand buzzing for the last five years. But now they’re leaving the comfort of the woolsheds behind to take on the big city, appearing for the first time ever at this year’s NZ International Comedy Festival.

The Bitches’ Box will perform their latest show SONS OF A BITCH as part of the renowned festival, which runs from April 27 until May 21.

A fast-paced, multi-character comedy show, SONS OF A BITCH has toured to the remotest corners of the country, whilst successfully avoiding all town centres. But now country bumpkin Amelia Dunbar and city slicker Emma Newborn will take to stages in Auckland and Wellington in an attempt to bridge the urban/rural divide in the only way they know how, by pretending to be dogs.

SONS OF A BITCH, which is a sequel to the comedy duo’s self-titled 5-star gem THE BITCHES’ BOX, follows two country boys as they are forced to visit the local town vet where they meet a revolving door of equally delightful, deranged and disturbing dogs.

Together, physical comics Newborn and Dunbar conjure up a hilariously imaginative world that throws the spotlight on our four legged friends. They bounce from one character to another at breakneck speed, revealing the glorious inner workings of a dogs mind.

A hit with audiences from Edendale to Edinburgh, from woolsheds to glittering arts festivals worldwide, the sidesplitting SONS OF A BITCH will have you peeing in the aisles and begging for more.

“…this is comedy genius…full-speed, never-let-up comedy gold throughout… Do NOT miss it!”Theatreview, NZ

“The Bitches’ Box is fall-off-the-chair funny, so brilliantly written and executed that only admiration makes you stop snorting.” *****  – The Times, UK

Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, 50 Mayoral Drive
Tuesday May 9 – Saturday May 13,
Tickets: $20 – $25
09 970 9700

The Propeller Stage at BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace
Tuesday May 16 – Saturday May 20,
Tickets: $14- $20
04 802 4175 

As part of the 2017 NZ International Comedy Festival powered by Flick Electric Co.
from April 27 – May 21 

For the full line-up of shows in the Festival head to


The Bitches’ Box is the theatrical partnership between Emma Newborn and Amelia Dunbar. The pair had a serendipitous meeting in Auckland in 2012 where they quickly bonded over a shared frustration in the lack of comedic roles for women.

Their mutual love of comedy, enthusiasm for canines and willingness to give writing and starring in their own show a go, lead to their first creative offering – The Bitches’ Box. 

It worked! After nearly 200 performances worldwide in a mixture of woolsheds, theatres and big top tents, five star reviews and smiling farmers, the pair have garnered a near cult following with their rowdy, risky and rollicking show about dogs.

And now they’ve done another, Sons Of A Bitch. The pair aim to delight their audiences and tell the story less told. It’s an opportunity for them to give voice to the groups that may struggle to have their voice (barks?) heard. 

Amelia Dunbar:
Amelia is a Canterbury based actress and fine artist (Amelia Guild). She has a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre and Art History from the University of Otago and a graduate of Mike Saccente’s Meisner course. In 2016 she was awarded the Sensational Selwyn Arts and Culture Award and has her art hanging in the Lincoln University Art Collection. She is a mother to a daughter, dog and deer.

Emma Newborn:
A fourth generation actor, Emma has performing flowing in her veins. She has pursued her passion from Melbourne to the UK and back (after winning a competition in which she made 3 short films about a Hobbit stuck in London…).

Awarded best actress in the 2012 Short & Sweet festival, Emma has notched up several theatre and screen credits since returning home five years ago.

Emma is also the custodian of Old Government House in Auckland and ‘owner’ of the famous cat, Governor Grey. 

Theatre , Physical , Comedy ,

1 hr

Canine commedia exemplified

Review by John Smythe 17th May 2017

They make out they’re lap dogs to begin with, until they realise they are implicit in the show we’re all waiting to see.

What is infectious about Emma Newborn and Amelia Dunbar’s Jack and Russell – the titular Sons of a Bitch – is their quivering excitement. We should be throwing sticks for them. Or balls. Speaking of which …

The story they tell, or rather show, us is about the day they went to Wellington from their farm in the Wairarapa. The employment of two leaf-blowers to evoke the wind-blown thrill of the journey is simply brilliant. A couple of wool bale-shrouded pens allow for quick changes and surprising entrances for the multiple canines they embody with ebullient skill.

Outside a flash-looking place called VET, the boys’ gobs are smacked by two sophisticated city bitches, Shiht and Zu, whose view of life is very different. Their attempts to ‘speak country’, as Honeychild and JessJess, are very funny.

Inside, sensing it is a scary place without quite knowing why, Jack and Russell surmise they’ve been brought here to meet ‘girls’.

Russell’s encounter with Emma’s wondrously wobbly dog called Coral (a Labrador-Corgi cross, I think) introduces him to something quite new for a working dog: Treats. But he’s more interested in mating and the way their on/off relationship is enacted is a non-verbal poem of well-observed canine behaviour.

Being a well-trained dog, Jack is ‘easy meat’ for Amelia’s dominatrix Poodle in her ‘necklace of nihilism’.

It’s the extraordinary phenomenon of ‘doggie bags’ that provokes a rousing rendition of ‘Thank God We’re Country Boys’ – and their playful teeth-to-teeth interactions are wondrous to behold.

Jack attempts to cure a non-gender-specific purse pooch called Peepee of an apparent allergy to grass. Russell has to cope with a big-balled Bulldog whose dog park exercise regime is a puzzle to a real working dog.

As for the real reason Jack and Russell have been brought to a city vet … Suffice to say lampshade collars are not the fashion item they’d thought go home with.

Sons of a Bitch is canine commedia exemplified. Get in behind it, Wellington! 


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Tight duo’s slick sparring earns standing ovation

Review by Heidi North 10th May 2017

The Bitches Box actresses, Emma Newborn and Amelia Dunbar, the duo who delight in playing dogs, are back. Their last show had a stellar session in the 2013 Auckland International Comedy Festival, which also toured rural New Zealand and travelled to the Edinburgh Fringe.

Sons of a Bitch is the duo’s second show. In Sons of a Bitch Newborn and Dunbar are Jack and Russell, minor characters from their first show The Bitches Box. Jack and Russell are two rural farm dogs on the prowl for some good times in the city… or so they think.  

When they get to Auckland they are met with a slew of characters: snooty bitches (female dogs), a treat-devouring labourer, an S&M flirt, a bulldog complete with gold testicles, and a handbag dog who needs liberation. After roaming the streets of Auckland, Jack and Russell find out the real reason their farmer has bought them to the big smoke. And it ain’t pretty.

Newborn and Dunbar are a tight duo. They’ve been travelling this show around New Zealand* before bringing it to Auckland and their confidence and control of the material shows. Their physical comedy is slick and they spar off each other beautifully.

The use of a leaf blower is hilarious and the motely cast of doggy characters are well suited to each actress’s skills. The show garners lots of laughs and a standing ovation from an appreciative opening night audience.

This show fulfils its aim: to provide lots of light-hearted laughs. The only thing it would benefit from is a more confident beginning.

Overall a fun hour’s entertainment.  

*The 2016 tour was billed SONS OF a BITCH & Mel Parsons


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