Stand Up Love

Centrepoint - Dark Room, Palmerston North

07/06/2007 - 09/06/2007

BATS Theatre, Wellington

27/04/2007 - 05/05/2007

Production Details

By Gavin McGibbon
Directed by Larry Rew

Set design by Rose-Marie Salmon
Lighting design by Marcus McShane

Why would you name your kid Apple?
Why aren’t porn stars promoting fitness equipment?
Can you spontaneously combust from a spicy lunch?
When is love just another four-lettered word?

All this and more is answered as the relationship between a stand-up comedian and his infomercial loving girlfriend gets put under the spotlight.

Starring Chapman Tripp winner Erin Banks (I.D., Hamlet) and nominee Robert Lloyd (Fool for Love), Stand Up Love charts the rocky course of love, laughter and loss between a couple faced with becoming responsible adults and living with each other’s faults. 

“I’ve got a friend who’s in a relationship, got that ‘life’s great’, demented skip to his walk. The whole, the hills are alive with the sound of termites eating baby trees or something. I just feel like shoving him down some stairs.”

“When I was writing Stand Up Love Rob’s voice seemed to crawl into my head” says writer Gavin McGibbon. “Rob’s all too happy to be an out and out bastard but Rob being Rob he can’t help but bring this gentleness to the stage as well, while Erin brings this sparkle to everything she does even in the darkest of plays.”

McGibbon graduated from Waikato University with a double B.A. in Film and Media Studies/History and completed a M.A. in Scriptwriting at Victoria University under Ken Duncum. McGibbons first play After Service was a huge success Fringe 2006 at BATS Theatre, went on to Massey’s Pick of the Fringe and was the first play to be performed in Centrepoint’s new Dark Room Theatre.

Don’t miss this humorous Kiwi play about relationships: the good, the bad and the hilarious.

“Spontaneous combustion, did they have a spicy lunch? Put the microwave on high for five hours then swallowed it? Ate a bunch of matches, washed that down with sandpaper then went out dancing?”

Erin Banks (I.D., Hamlet
Robert Lloyd (Fool for Love)  

Theatre ,

Formidable double act fascinates

Review by Richard Mays 12th Jun 2007

Comedy and tragedy go closely hand in hand, and playwright Gavin McGibbon nimbly rides the line between them. Superbly realised and performed, Stand Up Love is a penetrating dissection of a doomed relationship between two self-destructive people. And what a couple! In these roles, and with this non-PC flavoured dialogue, the two performers Rob Ringiao-Lloyd and Erin Banks are a formidable double act.

McGibbon’s excellent After Service with Ringiao-Lloyd, christened The Dark Room last year. In this new play, the actor returns as Freddy, an abrasive stand-up comic and heavy drinker. His comedy material may be of indifferent calibre and questionable taste, while his personal behaviour is worse, but waiting at home is the doting Ana.

Despite being "not the most together guy", the pugnacious Freddy has charisma, cheek and charm on his side, a counterpoint to the judgemental Ana, whose "brain came with a gavel". In sometimes cutting encounters, the pair pick at one another, blow up and then make up, but when Ana announces she’s pregnant this cycle spins off in quite another direction.

The character of Ana is given an insightful portrayal by Banks, who has a remarkable range of expressions to enhance her lively fluent approach. Ringiao-Lloyd’s Freddy personifies a man who uses stand up and booze to water down his inner pain. There is much fascination in watching this duel between her foil and his blunt instrument played out with such authenticity, passion, dexterity and ruthless humour. It is well worth staying up for.


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Pain in the proverbial

Review by Lynn Freeman 02nd May 2007

Like stand up comedy, theatre is a hit and miss affair.

The script is key, the performances important, audiences are part of the experience too of course. One of the two characters in this play is a stand up comedian who’s driven to take the mic in front of audiences who don’t "get" his material.

Gavin McGibbon’s second play gives Freddy a chance at real happiness, but he uses Ana and their relationship ups and downs as fodder for his comedy routine.

Ana is a go-ahead professional woman very much in love with a heavy drinking, unreliable guy. McGibbon has Freddy and Ana frequently squabble, make up, squabble, face a crisis, throws in a lie or two, has Freddy try to behave more like a man than a big kid, Ana doesn’t like that either, so there’s more fighting and yelling followed by more making up. It all quickly becomes rather tiresome, even with the interspersed stand up routines.

The payback is worth the preceding 40 minutes, when the excellent Erin Banks has the microphone all to herself to share with the audience Ana’s soliloquy, it’s moving and the kind of straight from the heart acting that Chapman Trip Theatre Award winning Banks has become known for.

Robert Ringiao-Lloyd has a much harder time of it with Freddy, he’s such an unsympathetic pain in the proverbial, and not endearing enough to make the audience want Ana to stay with him. Certainly not enough to care about the situation he ends up in.


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Two exciting performances

Review by Melody Nixon 02nd May 2007

In this adventurous play by Gavin McGibbon the ultra talented Erin Banks teams up with the self-possessed Robert Lloyd to bring a tale of real love, kiwi style. That means emotional repression, manipulation, and a not unbefitting alcoholism. As Freddie (Lloyd) battles with his need for love versus his fear of opening up, his girlfriend Anna (Banks) struggles to accept that their love is doing them both harm. All this is conveyed via a series of domestic scenes and stand up routines in which the jokes ring increasingly hollow.

Serious and thoughtful tracts of monologue interlace Stand Up Love’s humour, and show McGibbon’s desire as a writer to access cultural truths and convey a message over and above a good yarn. When the morose Freddie states “we’ve become content with a disingenuous truth”, he’s referring not only to his personal situation but to the culture of bravado and make believe on which we kiwis often construct our identities.

This issue is discussed in an honest yet accessible way, through emotionally touching scenes of argument, manipulation and desperation most everyone who’s ever been romantically involved can relate to. Dialogue and physical intimidation between Freddie and Anna hint at the particular emotional detachment of kiwi males, and jokes dropped in the most tragic of moments communicate the use of humour to mask hurt. When Anna talks of the great pain of miscarriage through a series of anecdotes about the hospital and cab driver, she is crying while the audience laughs – at first. Similarly, in the final stand up routine Freddie begins by talking about his own pain and then begins an address on the tragedy of spontaneous combustion; expressing an emotion yet distancing himself from his own inner state.

As Freddie, Robert Lloyd’s tone at the beginning of the play is overly confrontational, and he takes some time to warm to. However this is quickly eased as the show progresses, and he settles into character, finally winning the audience in his moments of vulnerability and sweetness. The initial banter between Freddie and Anna is very effective at bringing the audience into their story, and though the first ‘love’ scene on the bed could benefit from greater ‘pause’ between dialogue, both Lloyd and Banks manage to construct a rapport that is believable and emotionally engaging throughout. Erin Banks is particularly stunning in her complete conviction as Anna; the line between actor and character is seamless.

This BATS production of Stand Up Love provides an hour of kiwified comic entertainment, and two exciting performances from Wellington locals. It also, non-judgmentally, leads us to examine those aspects of ourselves that may not be the healthiest, and to question what lies behind them – an achievement any production would be proud to speak of.

Originally published in The Lumière Reader.


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Surprising reversals and revelations

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 01st May 2007

With Stand Up Love, Gavin McGibbon’s finely written second play, we are into the hermetically sealed world of intimate relationships and what it means to be in love.  Freddy is a stand up comedian whose source of comedy is his personal life with his partner, Ana, who earns a regular wage and is able to keep her work (it’s never clear what) at work.

We see Freddy working at a comedy club with jokes pouring out of him, some funny, some not so, but the banter continues at home which could become tedious for the audience. However, McGibbon is too clever a writer for that to happen. He gives Ana her own inner voice and right of reply by having her use the microphone and talking directly to the audience.

The lies and deceits of love, the pleasures and the joys, the promises made and the promises broken are all covered in neatly crafted scenes with surprising reversals and revelations that are never theatrical but rooted in life.

Robert Ringlao-Lloyd as Freddy has exactly the right mechanical jokester of a stand up comedian as well as the charm off stage for us to see why Ana has fallen for him. As Ana Erin Banks charts the emotional ups and downs with a performance that is quite simply flawless.


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A play good actors will aspire to

Review by John Smythe 28th Apr 2007

Vast numbers of couples spend huge amounts of time wondering what it’s all about, if this is ‘the one’, where to from here, who am I inside this thing called ‘us’, and what exactly is this thing called ‘love’?

To write a play about all that is such an obvious idea, it needs a twist to elevate it from the prosaic; to take it off ‘the nose’. Gavin McGibbon’s solution is to make the guy, Freddy, a stand-up comic and his girlfriend, Ana … his girlfriend. There’s a brief hint she has something to do with radio advertising but her work never impinges on the play. Neither does any other aspect of her life outside the relationship, which seems a shortcoming since in real life such things always do impinge, for better or worse.

By starting with Freddy doing a gig, then following him home to Ana, the relationship between his material and real life engages our interest immediately. Likewise when he returns to the mic in the wake of events at home. The open mic is also used, to great dramatic effect, by Ana when she needs to address the audience directly. The shock of it increases its power.

In retrospect, in the light of Freddy’s final fling at his audience, I’m thinking more could be done right from the start to ensure he establishes a stronger relationship with us, using the usual comedian’s devices to get us on side and make us love him, fear him, wonder about him and variously have strong personal responses to him and his shtick. This way we would get to experience some reflection of the relationship issues Ana has to contend with.

That said, the twists and turns in their evolving story, the obstacles, challenges and complications, the moments of truth and deceit, are finely crafted by McGibbon to keep revealing more of Freddy and Ana to each other, themselves and us. I’ll avoid spoiler spellings out of the issues involved. Suffice to say Stand Up Love (and reveal yourself?) touches on the universal questions of whether people can or should change for each other and/or themselves; if so, what or whom might finally make the change and, once it’s done, was that necessarily the answer?

Robert Ringiao-Lloyd and Erin Banks climb into the skins of Freddy and Ana to compelling effect, being whatever each moment requires them to be and leaving us to judge their actions – as we do, because we too are human.

I know it’s a big plus for a stand-up comic to be authentically ‘himself’ at the mic but I’m not sure this means he behaves exactly the same at work and at home; in public and in private. Lloyd offers little delineation between the two and I’m not sure there is not a missed opportunity here.

Banks makes Ana such a complete person, flaws and all, that it almost doesn’t seem to matter that by the end of the play we still know very little about her, beyond being his partner – or not. She moves through every emotion and self-justifying state of mind with total authenticity. And if Lloyd’s Freddy doesn’t quite to that, it’s because he – Freddy – is not so able to be so true to himself.

Director Larry Rew moves the action fluently through its spaces and time frames, abetted by Rose-Marie Salmon’s simple settings and Marcus McShane’s fluid lighting design. I just wonder if off to one side is the right place for the stand-up podium. How would it be slap in the centre, between the living and bedroom spaces?

Already excellent, yet still growing and able to be improved, Stand Up Love (and be counted?) is the sort of play good actors will aspire to because it challenges them and relies almost entirely on their excellence – guided by a skilled director – to achieve its potential. Relatively inexpensive to stage and tour, it should have a long and healthy life in our homegrown repertoire.


Lopezz May 1st, 2007

Does anyone else ever wonder if reviewers have seen the same play they have? The Stand Up Love I saw was weak and jumbled, and the two completely miscast actors less than impressive. "Freddy" requires an actor with at least moderate standup skills, and this actor had none. He was also incapable of distinguishing between drunk and sober, essential when his alcoholism is fundamental to the relationship drama. Erin Banks gave a thin, small, cold, two dimensional performance; I was never convinced of her devotion to this infuriating man, and never engaged by the arbitary series of events that make up this relationship journey. There was no spark, no passion, no magic - just a dull plod of predictable scenes, leaving me caring very little about the outcome. However, both actors and writer can be a lot better, and in my view the director has a lot to answer for, the failure of this piece lying largely at his door. There is a good idea lurking in this script, but I suggest it needs a lot more work before it is teased out successfully.

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