Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

06/04/2018 - 07/04/2018

Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

25/10/2017 - 27/10/2017

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

09/10/2018 - 13/10/2018

Hamilton Fringe 2017

Production Details

Antony is Samoan.
Benny is Cook Island Maori.
But no-one can tell the difference.

Spot the Difference is an exploration of identity from the unique perspective of two Hamilton-based theatre practitioners (who also both happen to be Polynesian).

From the guys behind 2016’s Remains, Spot the Difference is confronting and provocative … but also sort-of a musical-comedy.
#songs #acting #drama #laughs #brown

The Meteor Theatre, Hamilton
Wednesday 25th – Friday 27th October 2017
$15 full – $10 concession
For tickets and bookings visit:

“…Marama and Aiono are challenging audiences to not deny or dismiss racism as something that works on a larger scale and on more levels than many of us see.” – Ross MacLeod, Theatreview

The Meteor Theatre (1 Victoria Street, Hamilton)
6th and 7th of April
Tickets available from

BATS Theatre, Random Stage
October 9-13

Baycourt X Space
October 27

Devisers/Performers – Antony-Paul Aiono and Benny Marama
Lighting Design – Jonathan Wilce, with Guy Coker
Lighting Operator – Ethan Lambert
Sound Design – Wairehu Grant 

2018 tour

DEVISERS/PERFORMERS – Antony-Paul Aiono & Benny Marama
DIRECTOR – Cian Gardner

PRODUCTION ASSISTANT (Wellington): David Bowers-Mason
PRODUCTION ASSISTANT (Tauranga): Hamish Balderston 

Theatre , Musical , Comedy ,

Intelligently observed, generously played

Review by Margaret Austin 10th Oct 2018

The title of this show, which opened at BATS Random stage last night, is a good natured dig at the performers’ home-town Hamiltonians who refer to them as “two brown guys who do theatre”.

Devised and performed by Antony-Paul Aiono and Benny Marama, Spot the Difference takes on serious stuff and plays with it. The serious stuff is the hot topic of racism; the playing consists of the show’s content: creating a musical comedy to celebrate racism. “Is it still a thing?” asks one.

The show has played to sell-out audiences in Hamilton. Residents of that place may have wondered what hit them. Except that the hits are gentle and good-natured for the most part.

Our two performers Antony and Benny are good friends – in real life as on stage. This factor is an enhancement. We sense the camaraderie and at times the disagreements and tensions about scripting and performing a musical on the subject of racism have their roots in authenticity.

So we are able to enjoy the digs at white society. A ‘poverty game’ consists of getting two players – a Pākehā from the audience and a Samoan – to aim polystyrene chips at a box labelled Success Silo. Guess who misses?

“It’s not enough to do nothing at all,” declares Benny during one of the more serious moments. And the suspicion of dishonesty hanging over Samoans is captured in the world weary comment, “We have a lifetime of awareness”.

Highlights of this show are the singing and guitar playing where the performers excel – as in their impersonations of Sean Connery and Morgan Freeman. And the two are beautifully lit.

The “two brown guys who do theatre” are very different. But their point of similarity is natural talent and happy self-confidence.

I’d say two extremely intelligent men with powers of observation and generosity, plus a load of stagecraft. 


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Brilliantly delivered subject matter challenges you to think

Review by Ross MacLeod 07th Apr 2018

(Note – I saw this show in its debut season last October but will try and keep comparisons between the two seasons to a minimum. I’ve also not reread my old review so I apologize for any similarities to the original.)

If you’re going to be working with material that is both personal and uncomfortable, it helps to be comfortable in your own abilities. Watching various scenes unfold on stage there is little doubt that Antony Aiono and Benny Marama are both naturally talented performers but have also honed that craft, especially in working together. 

They move seamlessly between character scenes, mock improv scenes and genuine made up on the spot moments that I genuinely couldn’t tell at times which were which. This natural charisma and stage presence feeds through the whole show. When they laugh we laugh and when they cry we cry.

At its core this is a story of racism, not the bold image of white supremacy marching but the more insidious subtle form that weaves its way through all of us. And when I say all of us I do mean all. While there are some harsh recollections of the actors confronting incidents in their past, the truly insightful and powerful moments revolve around how that racism has been internalized by the two Pacific Island men.

The narrative thread of the performance (a behind the scenes retelling of how the show came to be) serves both as a framework for the mix of scenes and a thematic plot thread about self-doubt and self-censoring. While the core of this is solid, the structure occasionally means that the show undercuts itself. Some scenes fit better than others and some highly emotional parts steal the impact of those that come later. The performances themselves are strong but the order of scenes makes the flow more uneven than it should be.

It’s engaging subject matter that challenges you to think, brilliantly delivered by two clever creators. It does feel that some of the revisions in this version have added a few more emotionally intense moments and I can’t help but feel this hasn’t gelled as well into the whole. But this remains an excellent piece of theatre well worth watching for everyone.

As a final note, slightly meta-textual, it says something about the prevalence of casual racism in our country that in the five months since it was first staged, life has given these men additional material to work with. 


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Fun, honest, brimming with personality

Review by Ross MacLeod 26th Oct 2017

It’s nice to see a play in which ‘deeply personal’ not only equates to moving introspection but also light humour. Both elements are part of the performers’ personalities and both get solid stage time. 

In their exploration of, and conversation about, racism in New Zealand, Benny Marama and Antony Aiono have created a work that is many things: a collection of personal stories, a musical and a meta-textual retelling of their experiences creating the very work you’re seeing. At times it feels like there are a few too many fragments, like the highlights of two separate works coexisting in the same space, but there’s a casual naturalism to the piece that both performers use to hold the audience throughout the ups and downs.  

Marama and Aiono switch characters back and forth fluidly, playing with the running gag that people keep mistaking them for each other (which sadly is true despite their having little appearance in common save skin tone).  Both skilled improvisers, they both move seamlessly from scripted sections to scripted banter and to genuine off-the-cuff banter. Where sometimes this might feel disconnecting to the audience, here it is a strength, making the heavier moments all the more ‘real’ when they come.

The two points where Spot The Difference hits it’s mark strongest is when it addresses the casual, largely oblivious nature of racism that people have, and explores the contrast between how the two actors have experienced and processed it. Some moments are heavier than others but it’s almost the small ones that hit home hardest.

‘Racism is an insidious thing which can even influence something as innocuous as knowing the number of lines in Mad Max 2. There’s frustration in their experiences but this is not a hostile piece, rather an encouragement to check how we see things.  Even Marama’s own culture isn’t spared an element of blame with delving into the philosophical lessons of his upbringing. 

These pieces are intercepted by several musical numbers which have the two playing to their strengths and unashamedly confessing their failings. There’s variety in the musical numbers and a couple of them certainly have the lyrical and melodic potential to could easily be imagined as breakaway hits.

As a devised work it’s still in progress. A game show sketch, while funny and poignant, feeling the most out of place, and the opening scenes are a little messy. But there are some important messages to see here and an openhearted, clever delivery that makes them engaging and accessible. In a similar manner to the #metoo movement regarding women and sexual harassment, Marama and Aiono are challenging audiences to not deny or dismiss racism as something that works on a larger scale and on more levels than many of us see.

The play is fun, honest, brimming with personality and well worth seeing.  I look forward to watching how it will develop over time. 


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