Suter Theatre, Nelson

23/10/2013 - 24/10/2013

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

06/03/2013 - 09/03/2013

BATS Theatre (Out-Of-Site) Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington

17/04/2013 - 20/04/2013

Assembly, Roxy, Edinburgh, Scotland

08/08/2013 - 26/08/2013

Baycourt X-Space, Tauranga

27/10/2013 - 27/10/2013

Nelson Arts Festival 2013

Auckland Fringe 2013

Edinburgh Fringe 2013

Tauranga Arts Festival 2013

Production Details


A squid in an elevator. An exploding cow. A sheep that unzips. Ornamental Japanese lawn. What will happen? Nobody knows. Not even the squid.

Trygve Wakenshaw (pronounced trig-vee) is a New Zealand born actor and comedian, now based in London after two years of study in Paris at Ecole Philippe Gaulier, the prestigious clown school with alumni including Sasha Baron-Cohen, Emma Thompson and founding members of Complicite and Spymonkey. Just before Trygve left NZ he was awarded Metro magazine’s Best Emerging Actor.

“Laugh out loud funny” (Fringe Review)

Theatre Beating was formed by Trygve Wakenshaw and Barnie Duncan in 2003 as a means to create and produce the kind of physical, comedic, and devised theatre that they believe their mates would want to see. Theatre Beating has won awards: Best Comedy Fringe ’04 for Happy Hour for Miserable Children, Best Outdoor Fringe 2006 for This is a Plum, STAMP award 2011 for Constantinople.

Their family friendly show The Magic Chicken enjoyed huge success in Auckland and through the regions of New Zealand last year, and will take to the stage again in Wellington just days after Squidboy closes in Auckland.

“This little piece is a gem; the stage antics were clever and very well orchestrated and the acting was bizarre but totally effective and heartfelt. I want what he’s having – what a hoot. Anyone with imagination should experience this show!” (Rip It Up)

In the vein of Wile E Coyote, and the traditions of clown, Squidboy explores the unrelenting adversity caused by an actively malicious universe upon a really good, and very intelligent, squid. Squidboy is an absurd wriggly mix of playful physicality, absolute lies, aquatic pride and mischief.

It is about an imaginary friend who makes imaginary friends who make imaginary enemies who make imaginary armies out of imaginary Scotsmen.

“This inventive and imaginative character is one of the finest original ideas I’ve seen this Fringe. Don’t miss it.” (Heckler)

Auckland Fringe runs from 15 February to 10 March 2013. For more Auckland Fringe information go to www.aucklandfringe.co.nz  

plays 6th – 9th March, 10pm
Duration: 55 Minutes
Venue: The Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD
Tickets: $20 Bookings: iTicket – www.iticket.co.nz  or 09 361 1000 

WINNER: Auckland Fringe Award for Best Performance, 2013  

“An hour of pure whimsy and imagination.” – The Advertiser

“Laugh out loud funny.” – Fringe Review, 4 STARS

“I promise you will leave with a feeling of contentment, whimsy and just a dash of excitement.” – Theatre People, 4 STARS

“Impossible not to love.” Theatreview

BATS Out Of Site
Wed 17 – Sat 20 April, 8.30pm
All tickets $15.00  

Edinburge Fringe 2013

Squidboy »
8-26 August 2013

Category Theatre
Genres clown, comedy
Group Theatre Beating
Venue Assembly Roxy
Times 21:30
Suitability U
Duration 1 hour

Winner: Best Performance, Auckland Fringe 2013. Trygve Wakenshaw delights in this critically acclaimed physical comedy about an imaginary friend who makes imaginary friends who make imaginary enemies who make imaginary armies out of imaginary Scotsmen. A stream of consciousness comedy adventure. A squid in an elevator. An exploding cow. Ornamental Japanese lawn. What will happen? Nobody knows. Not even the squid. ‘Laugh out loud funny’ **** (www.FringeReview.co.uk). ‘I promise you will leave with a feeling of contentment, whimsy and just a dash of excitement’ (Theatre People). ‘Impossible not to love’ **** (Soundpond.net).

Nelson Festival 2013
Suter Theatre, 23-34 October

Tauranga Arts Festival 2013

WHEN Sunday 27th October, 09:00pm
WHERE X Space (Baycourt)
TICKETS $25 (TECT $20)
Booking fees apply
DURATION 60mins (no interval)


55 mins

Crafty construction and a rare charisma

Review by Gin Mabey 28th Oct 2013

Last night, Trygve Wakenshaw from Theatre Beating, performed his award-winning show Squid Boy to a full house, in Baycourt’s Exhibition Space. Apart from one sleepy man in the front row, the whole audience was captivated.

I think you can characterise a certain performance by the kind of laugh it inspires in you. When watching Squidboy, mine is along the lines of “hehehehehehehehe!” This is a good thing – dare I say it, Trygve Wakenshaw’s onstage alter-ego-actor is ‘cute’, even ‘aww-inspiring’. I would describe him as a mix of Jermaine Clement, Napoleon Dynamite (in the movement department), 1990s Jim Carrey (the impressions and facial expressions), and Zach Galifianikis with the beard and the slightly camp manner of speaking. (If you don’t like these people, ignore that, you’ll love Trygve).

Self-aware theatre is a very hard nut to crack. And Trygve Wakenshaw is a master! The nature of Wakenshaw’s theatrical style reminds us we are in a theatre, watching a performer.  Trygve has created a character-within-a-character, an actor playing an actor, and this acted-actor has a set of characteristics that dictate the way he relates to his audience in response to his own performance.

We are introduced to a fisherman. In traditional story-telling style, he bellows as through speaking through a storm. He then transforms…

Squidboy treats his audience to imaginary chips, encouraging the recipients to mimic his gobbling sounds – Squidboy feasts on many a surprising thing during this show.

There is a strong thread within the play: repeated scenes, repeated actions and sounds, and an over-arching story line. This thread has many twists and turns which veer away and come back again. This isn’t just a mash of absurd ideas, it does have a structure you can follow and recognize, and either way, you come to expect the unexpected, so it is a perfectly comfortable show for those who might be wary of the ‘absurd’. Or forget about making sense of it and just sit and enjoy the physical and vocal brilliance of Trygve.

Awkward is rather fashionable these days, in performance, and those who can pull it off are brilliant, proven by Trygve’s performance, his gangly physicality and primary-school-boy-delivering-a-speech way of speaking is spot on and a joy to watch.

There is an absolutely wonderful ‘date’ scene in which Trygve shows a more traditional ‘skit’ structure.

When watching him it’s easy to forget what a risky thing a show like this is. Imagine if an inadequate actor attempted to carry a whole show on his own, with no one to support him, with nothing on stage accept himself and his imaginary creations? It could be an utter, soul-destroying disaster, people would walk out or start to mutter. Trygve holds his audience the whole time, which I think is due to crafty construction of his piece, but also, just a rare charisma on stage and the power to have an audience on his side.

We all leave the theatre feeling uplifted and special, relaying our favourite moments, with a lingering afterthought about the power of imagination.


Make a comment

Squidboy has heart, it's fine-tuned art

Review by Anna Bate 24th Oct 2013

Squidboy, performed and created by the sweaty-kneed NZ actor/director Trygve Wakenshaw is an imaginative romp, a non-linear narrative that loops and diverges in the most brilliantly skilled of ways.  

The work met its Nelson Arts Festival audience at the Suter Theatre, conjuring teenage girl giggles, great belly laughs, chip scoffing, sheep eating and verbal outbursts from both seat and stage. Performance warms my cockles when we are all in it together, not only observing but also participating in what is a mostly non-awkward way.     

Cleverly structured in a rhizomatic fashion, this one-man show’s main characters are, a bellowing fisherman and his imaginary camp fleece squid friend. They are (figuratively) joined on stage by a large cast of players including poochie, jazz band, mexican bag pipe players and elevator girl. These beings are all created through Trygve’s highly skillful mimetic acts and overt plain statements, such as, “this is a cow”. 

Ideas are fleetingly touched upon and returned to as the work progresses, slowly revealing a graspable logic behind what may initially appear to be a series of absurdist entertaining comical scenes. Squidboy has heart, its fine-tuned art. The narrative emerges as surprisingly classical in what is an otherwise unconventional theatrical experience. This interweaving of traditions and the experimental is captivating and seeps through many aspects of the work. This perhaps broadens its appeal and is a reason for its great success both nationally and internationally.  

Occasionally I tired of the explaining of acts, “this is a cow”, and wished some moments were left as implied. I felt that this might improve the flow of the show, to be bombarded with a run of physical suggestions allowing the audience’s imaginations to diverge from the intended script, to then re-enter into the flow more precisely transcribed. That said, often, these overstatements of the obvious tickled my fancy and were delivered with perfectly pitched, dry, offhand wit. I wanted them, just not so many. It’ s a fine and tricky balance to nail.

This fussy criticism aside, Squidboy is a richly entertaining theatrical experience that thematically questions and promotes the role of the imaginary and alternative concepts of time, and it does so, with thought provoking effect. Bravo.



Make a comment

Liberating absurdity

Review by Robbie Nicol 17th Aug 2013

Squidboy reminds us how freeing it is to be silly. Like the Chinese philosopher Zhuangzi (the one who dreamt he was a butterfly), it is not clear whether Squidboy is a fisherman dreaming he is a squid, or a squid dreaming he is a fisherman. In the end it doesn’t matter because, as the show so often reminds us, neither of them are. It’s a play. 

The squid’s costume matches the rest of the show perfectly. Handmade, and completely absurd, it consists of a hat with glued on ping-pong balls, tentacles made of polar fleece, and a bright red tie. When worn by Trygve Wakenshaw, a gangly man with a rusty beard, the ridiculousness of theatre becomes apparent.

He rattles off a series of squid facts like a proud child, including the fact that squids taught the world to dance. A reasonably long interpretive dance performance begins. Just to remind you of the image: rusty beard, polar fleece tentacles, interpretive dance. Wakenshaw doesn’t shy away from the absurdity.

The 9:30pm time slot helps. The audience has consumed a drink or two, but is still focused enough to enjoy the existential trickery. Wakenshaw builds a strong rapport with the audience, sharing his imaginary crisps with them right from the start, and encouraging them to make the sound of chewing that he has been making on stage.

The laughter from the audience is nearly continuous, and Wakenshaw is funniest when most innocent. When he makes a joke about being fat, or when he humps the wall during his dance, the audience briefly loses interest. It is the feeling of freedom that comes from childish absurdity that makes Squidboy wonderful. Any reminder of the insecurities of adulthood only distracts from the fun.

The show is filled with Wakenshaw’s brilliant sound effects – the sort of thing that children (or talented improvisers) do to entertain each other in their breaks. The jokes are just the same. Much of the show’s humour comes from bringing us into the performance and then abandoning the reality we bought into at unexpected moments.

When looking for a stick with which to play fetch, Wakenshaw walks into a convenient tree, cuts down a branch, and proudly holds up a stick. While we are clapping, he sells the stick as firewood, so he can buy a stick from the local corner shop.

Later, he manages to escape from a broken lift with the simple act of remembering that it isn’t real. In a sense the lift is real – at least, we had all agreed to pretend it was for the last few minutes – but Wakenshaw breaks that agreement. There’s something delightful about the way he works to get us to believe in his mime, before he immediately dismisses it. More than that, though, there’s something beautiful about reality becoming so fluid.

The reason these are the sort of self-referential jokes we made as kids is that it’s the sort of thing we’d still love to do. How much better the world would be if nonsense was as achievable as it is in our imaginations. Many people become actors just to keep living in that world of fluid reality. Unfortunately, actors have to hold together the reality of the improvisation; they have to ‘stay in it’ and support their fellow actors. How freeing it is, then, for Wakenshaw to be completely absurd, and yet to also create a world in which that absurdity doesn’t ruin the narrative.

Trygve Wakenshaw trained at the École Philippe Gaulier, and won Metro magazine’s award for Best Emerging Actor, but this show is basically just him being very silly. I think that’s wonderful, and clearly others agree. After considerable success in New Zealand, Squidboy lives on, rapidly becoming this year’s cult hit at the Fringe. It seems Squidboy must be right: “You can’t kill your imagination.”


Make a comment

A wonderfully entertaining hour of whacky whimsy

Review by John Smythe 18th Apr 2013

Every now and then a show turns up that is indescribable, not because I couldn’t relate what happens but because to do so would not capture its essence. Trygve Wakenshaw extraordinary Squidboy is such a show.

With comedy it’s wrong in so many ways to try to explain a joke. It would be equally counter-productive to attempt an analysis of how and why Wakenshaw’s clowning works according to the principles espoused by École Philippe Gaulier, where he studied for two years.

Perhaps I could venture to suggest that while clowning according to Jacques Lecoq – with whom Gaulier studied and for whom he taught before setting up his own school – tends to be more rooted in a humanistic character grown from discovering one’s ‘personal clown’, the Gaulier approach allows for greater abstraction and childlike whimsy in exploring the simple joys of playing with our infinite imaginations.  

This is certainly what Wakenshaw achieves, grounded in that essential ingredient of connecting with his audience and keeping us engaged in his imaginative realm no matter how illogical, absurd or apparently random his story-telling becomes.

Yes, it does begin – once he finds his voice – with “Once upon a time …” And it does grow from a logical premise: the reality of a dream state where you don’t know whether you are, for a different example, a hunter dreaming you are a gazelle or vice versa.

In contrast to his stolid – if knife-fearing – Fisherman, the childlike nature of Wakenshaw’s Squidboy does include moments that could be construed as mindless violence. Or are they simply a convenient way of dispensing with something in order to move on to something else? Are we dealing with sociopathic humour here or are we simply liberated by the freedoms of imagination? The very last moment of the show pretty well answers that question – and you will have to see it to get it.

From the moment Squidboy shares his imaginary yet crunchy victuals with his audience we buy right into his world, and this is sustained right through to the collective “Oohh …” we utter at the dissolution of … a character we have come to believe in.

Birds, a dog, a cow and someone called Susan join him in his journey through a wide range of locations and states of being, abetted by the astute lighting and sound operation of Grace Morgan-Riddell, whose good timing is equally important.

Of the many amusing, whimsical, ridiculous and often stunning moments packed into the hour, Wakenshaw’s extraordinarily accurate lip-syncing to a French song is among the most memorable for me (perhaps because lip-synching is not a skill I normally rate that highly).

In ways that add greatly to the entertainment value of Squidboy, Wakenshaw often draws attention to the ‘make believe’ game and almost literally deconstructs it, and himself, at the end.

A wonderfully entertaining hour of whacky whimsy, Squidboy is also an exemplary display of the art of Gaulier-inspired clowning. It’s only on until Saturday and not to be missed.


Make a comment

Impossible not to love

Review by Heidi North 07th Mar 2013

Trygve Wakenshaw, aka Squidboy, a gangly bearded man in a squid costume, brings us his delightful solo show about a squid who imagines he’s a fisherman, or is it a fisherman who imagines he’s a squid? Either way, we enter into a wild and wonderful world, where anything goes, because as the unassuming but curious Squidboy reminds us when he’s in a jam, it doesn’t matter because it’s all made-up anyway.

Wakenshaw studied in Paris at the Ecole Philippe Gaulier, and his show is testament to his clowning training with a hilarious dash of interpretive dance and lip-syncing thrown in for good measure. Added to this winning mix are Wakenshaw’s vocal effects, which he uses to maximum effect to keep the audience riveted to the (imaginary) action.  

Under Wakenshaw’s confident control we are rocketed through a joyride of sharing a packet of crisps – pumped to the full extent with the very willing opening night crowd. Then we encounter various animals and a treadmill before embarking on a high-speed car chase pursued by an imaginary army of imaginary Scotsmen – on chariots with bagpipes no less. Not to mention his cast of imaginary friends: the beloved ill-fated dog Poochie and the love of his life, elevator-voice Susan.

Bizarre? Well, quite. Fun, absolutely. Special mention must go to the first unpeeling, which hooks the audience from the get go. Wakenshaw, winner of the Metro Best Emerging Actor of the Year in 2008, toured Squidboy to Adelaide Festival prior to the show in Auckland and the material feels solid. 

It may be innocent and whimsical, but it’s not at all wholesome – which has the inner kids in the audience giggling with glee. Impossible not to love. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council