The Forge at The Court Theatre, Christchurch

25/10/2014 - 08/11/2014

Production Details

Stag Weekend at The Forge 

A comical conversation overhead on a bus about a wayward bachelor party was the inspiration for Stag Weekend, which has its world première at The Forge at The Court on October 25th.

Directed by Mark Hadlow, Stag Weekend was written by Court Jesters Brendon Bennetts and Dan Bain. 

Stag Weekend exposes the world of male shenanigans and the inevitable clashes that result when mates with varying ideas about what makes for a good time reunite on the West Coast. The show promises a trail of carnage slammed together with loads of laughs when the four very different friends set out to bag a stag.

Simon, the groom, (played by Cameron Douglas) is your average guy who is desperately in search of what it means to be a real man in today’s modern world. He is looking to his best mates for guidance.

Andrew (Andrew Ford) is the one who seems to have it all – he’s settled, with a good job and plans for the future, but all is not what it seems. Professional, polished and in his element in a metrosexual city environment, his veneer starts to slip when confronted by West Coast reality.

Charismatic, alternative lifestyler Tim (Owen Black) is put out when he realises that not all things in life are as easy to obtain as they have been in the past. There are some situations that a winning grin and an instant guitar melody just can’t fix.

And traditional Kiwi bloke Gary (Tom Trevella) cannot understand why his boyhood mate wants to do anything other than hunt, drink, vomit and build stuff because that’s what real blokes do… don’t they?

Personalities clash and the jokes tumble out as the four debate the merits of gladwrapping the naked groom to a pole verses an afternoon at the driving range followed by wine tasting. One thing the foursome can agree on are the individual changes that each has undergone since high school days.

Playwrights Brendon Bennetts and Dan Bain have worked together for over ten years. With this play they wanted to replace the short-lived nature of improvisation with a script that would last. “We started Stag Weekend over four years ago pre earthquakes. Every place that we started writing has now fallen down! It shows the destructive power of our writing, no building can withstand it!” says Bain.

During the writing process, Bain was one of Bennett’s groomsmen but there, they insist, any similarity to the play ends.

THE FORGE at The Court 
25 October – 8 November 2014
Show Times: 7:00pm Mon & Thu; 8:00pm Tue, Wed, Fri, Sat;
Tickets: $40 – $23
To book phone 03 963 0870 or visit 

Base Woodfired Pizza returns to The Court with the Boys, Beers & Base Deal: two show tickets, two brews and one large Base Woodfired Pizza for $89. Full deal details at

Simon: Cameron Douglas;
Gary: Tom Trevella;
Andrew: Andrew Ford;
Tim: Owen Black 

Director: Mark Hadlow;
Stage Manager: Tim Bain;
Set Design: Nigel Kerr;
Costume Design: Tina Hutchison-Thomas;
Lighting Design: Sean Hawkins;
Sound Design: Peter Booth; Lighting and Sound Operator: Giles Tanner;
Properties: Anneke Bester;
Property Assistants: Aisha Cumming, Danielle Ferreira Beckner;
Costume Manager: Sarah Douglas; Costume Construction: Sarah Douglas, Tina Hutchison-Thomas, Deborah Moor and Sarah Greenwood;
Workshop Manager: Nigel Kerr; Set Construction: Nigel Kerr, Maurice Kidd, Richard van den Berg, Richard Daem; Production Manager: Mandy Perry; Communications Manager: Wendy Riley; Artist Liaison: Rachel Sears.

Show Sponsor: Academy Funeral Services 

Thoughtful, sensitive, witty, bawdy and unashamedly local

Review by Erin Harrington 26th Oct 2014

Simon (Cameron Douglas) is a nice, middle-class, Pakeha guy: a bit vanilla, risk-averse, up for a few drinks, and more at home in the city than traipsing through the bush. He’s also about to get married, and Stag Weekend charts his attempt to make it through his pre-wedding rite of passage by heading to a West Coast hut to prove his masculinity by bagging a stag.

With him are urbanite best man Andrew (Andrew Ford), who’s left his husband at home and who would rather be out wine tasting, and ladies’ man, vegetarian, self-proclaimed free spirit Tim (Owen Black). Rounding out the hunting party is Simon’s boorish schoolyard bestie Gary (a scene-stealing Tom Trevella), who Simon hasn’t seen in years, and whose brash blokishness, propensity for vulgarity and interest in weaponry startles the three city boys.  

Together they are only kind of prepared for a weekend of, as they put it, drinking piss, getting shitfaced, and shooting stuff, and it doesn’t take long for their quest for manhood to get completely out of hand. 

Brendon Bennetts and Dan Bain’s witty and clever script swings between the low brow and the sophisticated. It sets the lads up against a number of increasingly ridiculous challenges, ultimately asking two things: how do we become the person it is we’d like to be, and what does it mean, in 2014, to be a real man? 

Crass jokes at the expense of one another and about the nature of what it means to be a man (getting scars? having fights? wrapping things in bacon?) mask an undercurrent of anxiety about the expectations of partners, parents, mates and society at large. The script excels in highlighting the uneasy tension between laughing at and laughing with, particularly in its exploration of how Andrew deals with (and often co-opts) jokes about his sexuality.

The overall sense is that the most dangerous thing of all is the expectation itself to fulfil and enforce the sort of mythic, normative heterosexual masculinity that populates ads for beer and liquor and stories of hardass, pioneering adventurers – a fiction that informs, and is celebrated within, national fantasy while restricting other forms of feeling and expression. 

As directed by Mark Hadlow, the characters sit on the knife edge between caricature and pathos, with the character of Gary best balancing the roles of comic foil and the Ghost of Hard Men Past. Tim’s eventual trip down his own personal rabbit hole tips my suspension of disbelief scales a little in the wrong direction.

Nonetheless, everything ultimately makes sense within the world of the play and the men’s ridiculous antics move toward a meaningful moment of catharsis in which each of them is able to finally open up to one another and to themselves. The characters’ relationships are real and believable, and the movements in the group dynamic and the shifting allegiances are particularly well-played. 

The production design is very impressive. Nigel Kerr’s ingenious set makes full use of the breadth and depth of the large stage. The rustic 4×3 metre cabin, which is tucked in the middle of an imposing forest of tree trunks that fill the theatre with a rich woody smell, is kitted out with a remarkable eye for detail. Some excellent mechanical trickery allows for set changes that quite rightly earn the cabin its own round of applause at the end of the show.

Other design elements, from Sean Hawkins (lighting), Anneke Bester (properties), Peter Booth (sound) and Tina Hutchison-Thomas (costumes), all assist in creating a wholly believable, immersive environment that features some clever pieces of stage magic.

All up, this is both a thoughtful and sensitive examination of the construction of masculinity in 21st century New Zealand and a witty, engaging evening of larrikinism. Stag Weekend is bawdy, funny, and unashamedly local. It more than earned an overwhelmingly positive response from the audience, and it’s likely to get bums on seats for commercial and community theatres alike.  


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