Square Eye Pair

Fringe Bar, Cnr Cuba & Vivian, Wellington

16/02/2011 - 19/02/2011

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

03/03/2011 - 10/03/2011

Fortune Theatre Studio, Dunedin

18/06/2012 - 23/06/2012

The Basement -return season, Auckland

26/06/2012 - 30/06/2012

NZ Fringe Festival 2011

Auckland Fringe 2011

Production Details

Are you addicted to your television? 

Chicken Legs Theatre is proud to present their debut production, an original and bitingly funny satire on today’s media and entertainment orientated society.

Witness the falling out of two TV obsessed best friends in the anti-bromantic comedy of the year. You’ll be talking about it, during the ad breaks, for weeks to come.

Event dates

16 Feb 8:00pm (Wed)
17 Feb 8:00pm (Thu)
18 Feb 8:00pm (Fri)
19 Feb 8:00pm (Sat)

Full $15.00
Concession $12.00
Fringe Addict Card Holder $10.00

Duration: 1 hour

The Fringe Bar
191 Cuba St
Wheelchair access

From: 191 Cuba St
Ph: 04 801 5007

Square Eye Pair will be performed at 

The Basement as part of the Auckland Fringe Festival
3rd of March at 5:30pm,
5th of March and 10th of March at 8:30pm.


Winner Best Comedy, 2011 Auckland Fringe Festival.

Square Eye Pair is the story of a ‘bromance’ between two TV-obsessed best friends. Friends since school, Richard and Max now live together, spending most of their time glued to the screen. This is the story of what happens when you start looking for something more. 

“genuinely funny and unpretentious” – Rhys Darby

Square Eye Pair is a new comedy written by Eli Matthewson and Hamish Parkinson. It debuted at the 2011 New Zealand and Auckland Fringe Festivals. This year, backed by Rhys Darby’s Awesomeness Comedy, they are performing it in the Edinburgh Fringe Festival at the renowned Gilded Balloon. Max and Richard played by Eli and Hamish, are joined on stage by actress Elise Whitson who plays three characters.

“The play is an exploration of friendship,” says Matthewson. “Both of us have observed how friendships that form in high school change in unexpected ways. Our characters call themselves ‘best friends’ but over the course of the play it becomes more apparent it is just a label.”

Parkinson adds, “We also want to explore the role of television and how it becomes an important part of their lives. During the play there are segments that emulate popular television genres, but these only emphasize the shallowness of their friendship.” 

18 – 23 June 2012
Fortune Theatre, Studio
Tickets: $15
Time: 8pm 
Book at: www.fortunetheatre.co.nz 

26 – 30 June 2012
Basement Theatre
Tickets: $15
Book at: http://www.iticket.co.nz/events/2012/jun/square-eye-pair  

Featuring: Eli Matthewson, Hamish Parkinson and Brynley Stent 

Cast (2012):
Eli Matthewson (Max)
Hamish Parkinson (Richard)
Elise Whitson (Dorothy, Grace and Tracy Trist)

The unabridged, annotated, multi-volume series of guidebooks on how to be pathetic

Review by Nik Smythe 28th Jun 2012

Two unkempt young slacker-nerds sit centre stage on a cosy looking, well potato-farmed sofa, agog with joy as Sailor Moon comes on, so right off it’s obvious they’re not gay.  Not that there’s anything wrong with that of course, as either of them will tell you, it’s just that they have spent the entirety of their friendship since they met in third form defending against such accusations.  As if to prove the point they launch eagerly into a heated debate over which female cartoons they’d bone.  

Hamish Parkinson is Richard, a scrawny lisping dork with a high IQ and a fondness for sugar.  Eli Matthewson plays Max, a diet-and-fitness conscious geek of the highest order in trackies, cross-trainers and an MJ muscle tee.  Between them they write the unabridged, annotated, multi-volume series of guidebooks on how to be pathetic. 

It’s true, many ‘normal’ people have partaken of and enjoyed many of the movies, tv shows, games and comics that Richard and Max revel in, but their case is extreme.  Since discovering each other they have never needed to confront their social phobias so have been in this cartoon-and-videogame infused bubble ever since they left school and got office jobs. 

Elise Whitson plays three supporting characters, each a femme fatale in her own way.  The first – angry, butch, schoolyard gay-bashing ‘future lesbian’ Dorothy – is considerably more fatale than femme, whereas the girl from the dairy, Grace, is the diametric opposite: polite, kind, shy, perfectly awkward and for some reason sweet on Richard.  Her third distinctive persona is that of Tracey Tryst, the aggressive, power-dressing, confrontational talk-show host in Richard’s mind. 

The script was written probably on a steady diet of Richard’s alarming extreme-sugar cocktail by Matthewson and Parkinson.  Nerd-culture citations both detailed and passing include, in no particular order, Sim City, Buffy, Dr. Quinn, Xena, Babylon 5, Voltron, Back to the Future, The Flintstones, Deal or No Deal, Avatar, Shortland Street, Smurfs, TMNT, The Biggest Loser, WWF, Marvel vs. DC, Playstation, Infomercials, reality-show diary cams and, inevitably, Star Wars, to name a few.  It’s a bonus but not essential if you are familiar with most of them; you get the point that their entire lives are bound to this escapist universe.

Chris Neels’ direction takes a grotty set and essentially character-fuelled action and a fresh young cast fair bursting with comic talent and, with deft application of such classic theatrical techniques as mimed elevator entrances and exits behind the couch, produces dividends in mirth.  The expressive soundtrack choices by Joseph Moore and Edward Dever assist in creating an ironic sense of sophistication that really isn’t there. 

The premise has numerous parallels to the 2009 Fringe’s feel-good geekfest Gestalt: myriad pop culture references, young adult males lacking the desire or inclination to grow up, a filthy flat, atrocious diets and a female intruder who shakes the very foundations of their ten-year bromance.  The main difference is that Square Eye Pair is ultimately a dark comedy; these lads are harder to sympathise with and, either because of or in spite of that, it’s funnier. 

Although it concludes at an essentially bleak point in the relationship, we’re pretty much laughing at their expense: they deserve it.  Especially Richard, the implications of whose life changing ‘forward thinking’ decision is all but certain to backfire.   


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Geeks' Eye for the Straight Guy

Review by Sharu Delilkan 27th Jun 2012

If you’re not fans of The Big Bang Theory or Paul, the sci-fi geek film from Simon Pegg then you are bound to love Square Eye Pair precisely because it is the same. 

Let me explain. It’s not the same. Its use of geekiness cleverly allows us access to three characters that light-sabre through the awkwardness and pain of growing up and learning love, as well as loss and friendship. 

Eli Mathewson (Max) and Hamish Parkinson (Richard) have written a fabulous show that engages the audience from the outset, with comfortingly familiar scenes of student/loser flat debris and an addiction to television and video games.  [More


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A delight to watch …

Review by Ben Blakely 20th Jun 2012

Growing up with a television as a parent/best friend is something I can relate to as a child of the 80s and 90s. So I was immediately drawn to the concept of Square Eye Pair: two best buds who are obsessed with TV and quite happy with their situation until a third member comes in to mix things up.

Max (Eli Mathewson) and Richard (Hamish Parkinson) have been friends since high school, where they bonded over their mutual awkwardness and distance from the cool crowd. Afternoons spent bonding over Star Wars (the original three), Pokémon, and Buffy the Vampire Slayer have strengthened their friendship to a seemingly unbreakable bond.

Neither Max nor Richard have really grown out of their awkwardness. Max might be skinnier than he was in high school but he still carries a lot of his insecurities with him and Richard may be older but is no wiser when it comes to talking to girls. This isn’t too much of an issue for the pair though; TV is still providing all the entertainment they need. But when the status quo changes and Richard finally gets the courage to ask out Grace (Elise Whitson), their once comfortable world is thrown into a turbo-mini-blender spin.

The story unfolds as sections are explained through reference to various TV shows from the past 20 or so years. Both young men find it easier to communicate their experience to the audience via a series of TV styles (sitcom, talk show, reality show, infomercial). Taking the form they know and love and infusing it with their own experience leads to often quite comic and clever moments.

These segments or sketches are for the most part there to help develop the story, but sometimes I feel they are too long or provide information we had already gathered. While the parodies of shows such as Survivor and The Jeremy Kyle Show are entertaining, they are nothing new and need to be used in such a way that they do not slow down the pacing of the show.

Mathewson and Parkinson are a delight to watch and are able to command and sustain the audience’s attention. Whitson feels like a bit of an outsider, which for the most part is perhaps the point, but she is very entertaining as Dorothy the school bully.

Running at just under an hour, the show leaves us wanting. The ending is necessary but it comes as a bit of a shock and seems rushed. For the most part I think this comes down to character development. Richard’s abrupt change in direction doesn’t seem to be signalled early enough in the piece and I feel like Max’s character could be further developed.

At the end I was left wondering whose story it was. It seemed that it was Richard’s where Max played a supporting role and I’m not sure this was intended. It should be noted that these are for the most part minor details from a show that I really enjoyed.

It is a shame that the audience was so small on the night I attended. I feel like the show is very good and should be well received in a student town like Dunedin. So I urge people to go out and see it, for it is not very often we have high quality theatre shows touring our way that are made by young people, for young people. 


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Unfulfilled potential as a play

Review by Keziah Warner 04th Mar 2011

Square Eye Pair is the story of a ‘bromance’ between two telly-obsessed best friends. Richard and Max (Eli Matthewson and Hamish Parkinson), have been friends since school and now live together, spending most of their time glued to the screen. 

The characters’ obsession with TV and video games has taken over their lives and they often imagine themselves within some of their favourite shows. If they have a problem it becomes the subject of a chat-show; when they argue it is in the style of a video game fight. Even having a drink becomes a TV commercial.   

The language of television is the only way they know how to communicate with each other and those around them. So when Richard gets a date with the girl of his dreams, Grace (played by Elise Whitson), he is more interested in watching television than her. But he doesn’t realise that it is his fault the date goes badly and he suspects she is seeing Max behind his back. This rift causes Richard to re-evaluate his relationship with Max and begin to understand that watching television is not a strong enough basis for a friendship.

The play is an interesting take on today’s media-obsessed society, and Matthewson and Parkinson have a great chemistry onstage. However, as both performers have extensive experience in comedy and improv, this scripted piece does not play to their strengths. There are some truly funny moments, but there is not a consistent enough style to the piece to be able to hold the audience all the way through. The many different ideas in the play are all interesting in their own right, but it gives it more the feel of a comedy sketch show than a cohesive whole.

One of the best ideas in Square Eye Pair is at the very beginning, where Richard and Max ‘pause’ each other whilst they are speaking in order to fill in the audience on what they are thinking and the history of their friendship. It would have been great to see this idea expanded and used throughout the play, as it immediately creates an intimacy with the audience, rather than trying to fit in too many themes.

There were also quite a few technical mistakes, which is unfortunate as this is not something the performers could control, but in a piece with so much reliance on technical it really affected the professionalism of the performance. 

Although it raises some interesting points about TV obsession and the nature of friendship, Square Eye Pair needs to decide exactly what it wants to say and stick to that in order to work as a play. Matthewson and Parkinson are clearly two talented performers whose potential is unfulfilled here – if they’re doing improv anywhere soon I’d really like to go along. 

This review kindly supported by The James Wallace Arts Trust http://www.wallaceartstrust.org.nz/

For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.  


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Kiwi Couch Comedy in need of Development

Review by Fiona McNamara 17th Feb 2011

Square Eye Pair is a kiwi couch comedy: two guys (Eli Matthewson and Hamish Parkinson) sit in their flat, watching TV, eating pizza and playing wii.  Occasionally a girl (Brynley Stent) enters to take on all the other roles. It is the debut production from Chicken Legs Theatre and this comedy trio are certainly talented. The audience was clearly having a good time and there are some clever lines that demonstrate a skill with language. However, neither the potential of the performers nor the ideas they touch on were brought to their full potential.

Square Eye Pair calls itself a “satire on today’s media and entertainment orientated society”, which is a good premise, but too much time is spent sitting on the couch and not enough in the fantasy world of the television show scenes, where the real opportunity for intelligent spoofs and theatricality lay. This group obviously knows their subject matter, with brief sequences that riff off of Antiques Roadshow, Survivor and internet chats, but there was no real satire to these scenes.  

The production would benefit from a revised script and direction. Some jokes need to be carefully crafted to avoid the offence they verge on throughout. Inspired by the laidback slacker-humour of shows like Flight of the Conchords and Eagle versus Shark, embracing the tools they have at their disposal as a live theatrical event, rather than relying on imitating television- or film-style comedy could liven this up a bit. Some creative staging ideas do emerge (I enjoyed watching the bromance break down into an argument while the bros played wii, followed by a live Mortal Kombat-style fight) but these also could have been developed further. If the group trusts more in their own creative instincts, they could take this work to its potential by its Auckland Fringe season.

I look forward to seeing more of this trio in the future. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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