Circa Two, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

16/03/2020 - 20/03/2020

Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

19/06/2020 - 19/06/2020

NZ Fringe Festival 2020

Production Details

Like all other relevant life events, it all started with a Facebook message. 

“Hi Cian, I’m really sorry for the random message. My name is Awhina. I’m searching (on behalf of my uncle) for a girl named Cian from Hamilton, he’s not sure of the last name. He told me that he has been looking for her.”

Turns out I was the girl she was looking for.

My father was struggling to find me… because he had forgotten my last name.

It’s not even a difficult one aye. Well, I guess if you’re gone for long enough, your daughter’s name could escape you. Funny that…

Sorry For Your Loss is a fresh new take on the everlasting journey of figuring out who you are… This one-woman show was written and is performed by exciting up-and-coming artist, Cian Gardner. It is her story of growing up, and explores the effects of having a sometimes-there-mostly-not Dad. A raw and real performance, Sorry For Your Loss sees Gardner opens up to audiences and expose something she never thought she needed to revisit.

Cian occupies the stage as multiple characters, her mother, her father, herself in the past and present. In this story about the strength of a woman; and the gift of strength from one woman to another.

Director Laura Haughey brings her unique physical approach to the storytelling in this original, devised piece of work.

Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki Street, Wellington waterfront
Monday 16 – Friday 20 March 2020
Price General Admission $25.00 Concession $20.00 Fringe Addict $18.00
Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki Street, Wellington waterfront
Book Now
Wheelchair access available

The Meteor, Hamilton
Friday 19 June, 2020
[Booked out]


Theatre , Solo ,

1 hr

A masterclass of show-don’t-tell

Review by D.A. Taylor 20th Jun 2020

There is a moment in this one-woman show where Cian Gardner, playing her nine-year-old self, waits to perform a waiata in front of her friends and family. It’s a school event. We’ve seen her nervously prepare with her friends, giggly, eagerly anticipating who’ll be in attendance. It’s going to be a moment of pride. She enters the ‘stage’ holding back an embarrassed grin that slowly, desperately, drops. She’s scanning the audience, realising the irreconcilable gap between expectation and reality. 

These gaps are what make Sorry For Your Loss so moving and exceptional, a showcase of the one-two punch that is Cian Gardner’s warm and expressive performance and Laura Haughey’s articulate direction. From the four ropes from ceiling to floor that soon become a clothesline, a growth chart, trees, stage curtains and photo frames, to those full thirty seconds of silence (a lifetime on stage) that Cian, tearful and expectant, holds the audience rapt, Sorry For Your Loss is a masterclass of show-don’t-tell that invites the audience to fill out the careful lines sketched on stage. 

The play opens simply enough: “My name’s Cian, and I’m going to tell you a story.” It begins with the brief meeting of her parents at a Kiwi garage party in 1996, Cian’s mother’s pregnancy, the early years of Cian’s life. During this time, we’re delighted with the impressions of Cian’s mother, her elderly neighbour Barbs (a great source of comedy) and Cian herself as a child attempting to fill in the outline of her father.

In this way, the show is equally about Māori identity, as she struggles to know the story of her whakapapa, and the accusation that her mihi – with her waka Endeavour – is ‘plastic’. The story raises the question of what it means to have the ‘right’ answers to questions of Māori identity (and which this reviewer will leave to better voices in this space). For her, though, talking with her peers, her absent father can be – and is – anything she wishes: he wears a suit and has a ‘mean greenstone’; his hands are calloused with carving and his arms are covered with tā moko; and/or he hosts tour guides on the River Nile, since he’s Egyptian – “which is why I don’t look like all of you”.

It’s not until Cian is around nine that she meets her father – and her brother – for the first time, and a brief connection is formed. What kind of father he is, we aren’t told, except as someone who’s “sometimes-there-mostly-not”. But of course, we fill in the gaps. 

The stage is alive in the hands of Gardner, whose deft physicality and expressive face easily slip us across time and personalities. Credit is also due here to the direction of dramaturg Laura Haughey, whose previous work has gained her high prestige – and rightly so – as not just a brilliant director but also an authority on psychophysical theatre (I’ve seen first-hand how she works with her actors and it’s nothing short of breath-taking). Add to this the gentle fullness of Andy Duggan’s accompaniment on a variety of instruments and the world appears before us, moving, tender and articulate.  

What they’ve arrived at is nothing short of one of the best pieces of Aotearoa theatre – devised, one-person or otherwise – that I’ve ever seen. Gardner is one to closely watch. 


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Moving, deftly told

Review by Annabella Gamboni 21st Mar 2020

A one-woman NZ Fringe play written and performed by Cian Gardner, Sorry For Your Loss, is a moving, deftly told story of one girl and her dad in modern Aotearoa.

The girl, in fact, is the performer we see in front of us. We follow Cian from her conception to her toddler years, to the end of high school and beyond.

Along the way, we meet her mum, her older neighbour Barbara, and her niece Awhina. [More


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A beautiful little pearler

Review by Grace Ahipene Hoet 17th Mar 2020

Sorry For Your Loss, is a beautiful little pearler of a show. This one-woman show, written and performed by Cian Gardner, is a lovely piece of storytelling. She is accompanied on stage with a musician who sets the scene and blends perfectly with Gardner so as to enhance her storytelling and not overpower her.

This story is about the strength of a woman and the gift of love, life and strength from a mother to her daughter.

Gardner’s physicality is confident and purposeful; the true beauty of her work is in her nuances and the delivery of the lines giving just the right depth and emotional tone  “A Maori man would walk past me in the street and I’d go ‘That Could Be Him!’ ” and her gorgeous rendition of meeting her father for the first time. “He was taking in every curve, made my face seem pretty interesting, it was like, like he was learning my face.”

Gardner has her own unique way of telling her childhood story and growing up like many children today with a solo Mum who is and always there-doing-her-best for her child; there is also the absent of sometimes-there mostly-not Dad.

The simplicity of the set, five ropes hanging and attached from ceiling to ground iss effective. It allows Gardner to join and weave her stories and characters together each representing age brackets or time phases. Her mercurial flow from character to character is skilfully done as she twists and turns and spins herself into another character or another age bracket.

Director Laura Haughey brings her distinctive physical style to the storytelling which marries well with the original, devised story. It makes for interesting and heartwarming Theatre.

The script is rich and full of truths with dialogue that many a single Mum would recognise “I’m sorry Mam but without the Father’s details your benefit will be cut.”
Gardner’s tribute to her Mum is her everything. It is genuinely heartfelt and authentic. Sorry for Your Loss is a touching heartfelt piece of theatre, a must see.

Sorry for Your Loss is also a quiet graceful tribute to her father Roy Hiringi; Gardner’s exploration of the effects of growing up without knowing her father, and eventually losing him, does touch the heart.

“I tell myself these stories because they are the only things I have left of him.”

A lovely little pearl of a production, worth seeing!


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