Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

28/02/2015 - 01/03/2015

Auckland Fringe 2015

Production Details


Inside a manicured, gated compound, in a flourishing communist city of 13 million, live two Kiwi girls.  

Squirrel is the first full length work produced by writer Nicole Steven, told from the unique perspective of the eyes of children from 28 February – 1 March as part of Auckland Fringe. 

We meet sisters, Dara and Annie, throughout the 90s and into the new millennium as they share stories of their time growing up in Shanghai. A two hander; this play provides a great challenge for Nicole and co- actor Alice Pearce who will be playing various ages and speaking Chinese words peppered throughout the play. The stars have aligned as Squirrel will be performed at the Basement mainstage on the same weekend as the 2015 Chinese Lantern Festival. 

Inspired by her childhood memories of China, Nicole Steven spent several of her childhood years in Beijing; the first time as an under 5 and again at age 10. This story was inspired by her time there and the experience of expat children around the world.

With Lisa Fothergill (The Cagebirds, Woman, Measure For Measure) onboard as director and Meredith Rehburg as co-producer this production will be a powerhouse of young female talent.

The biggest challenge for the production team is to find a musician who can play the Chinese lyre or Er Du to bring some traditional live music to the stage.  

Squirrel plays
Dates:  28 Feb 5.30pm – 1 March 5.30pm & 8.30pm
Venue:  The Basement theatre
Tickets:  $15 – $18
Bookings:  www.iticket.co.nz // 0508 iTICKET (484-253) 

Squirrel is part of the 2015 Auckland Fringe; an open access arts festival where anything can happen. It provides a platform for practitioners and audiences to unite in the creation of form forward experiences which are championed in an ecology of artistic freedom. The 2015 programme will see work happening all over the show, pushing the boundaries of performance Auckland wide from February 11 to March 1. www.aucklandfringe.co.nz

Theatre ,

Complex narrative punctuated with gentle visual spectacle

Review by Nik Smythe 01st Mar 2015

The Basement’s dark stage is adorned with hanging red paper lampshades, flags of China and assorted stacked wooden crates.  As we enter, ambient music is being played on a fascinating large traditional sitar-like instrument called a ‘guzheng’ by accomplished musician Michelle Liu.

Written by Nicole Steven, as inspired by her own experiences living in China through her formative years, Squirrel begins as nine year old Dara (Steven) and her seven year old sister Annie (Alice Pierce) prepare to return to China after several years living in their mother’s native country here in New Zealand.

At this age Annie’s quite shy so Dara does most of the talking, describing their journey with typical know-it-all enthusiasm and exaggeration, and amusing imaginative explanations of things we understand better than she does, like that all flight attendants are sisters, or that airport sniffer dogs are looking for scissors. 

The next scene takes us forward a decade or so, with Annie transformed into a rather more confident and verbose young woman as she and Dara vividly describe their adventures living in Shanghai, digressing along the way to tell us how their parents met here some twenty odd years earlier. 

Dara’s personal story plays out in the political backdrop of post-Mao China, comparing her and Annie’s younger and older takes on the meaning and significance of it all.  Some intimate milestones are examined, such as the onset of puberty and certain life-altering choices. The titular animal turns out to only be the focal point of a particular, poignant anecdote.

Liu’s music provides essential atmosphere during and in between scenes throughout the play, also punctuated by various gently executed visual spectacles involving fans, red confetti and flowing red cloth. 

Steven’s and Pierce’s performances, sensitively directed by Lisa Fothergill, are sufficiently energetic to drive the fairly verbose and complex narrative, yet nicely understated and natural in their delivery, particularly in their younger incarnations. 


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