Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

09/03/2011 - 13/03/2011

BATS Theatre, Wellington

14/06/2012 - 23/06/2012

Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

30/05/2012 - 09/06/2012

Meteor Theatre, 1 Victoria Street, Hamilton

05/07/2012 - 07/07/2012

Auckland Fringe 2011

Production Details

Keep the pace

Take a chance.

When was the last time you went to see a show or a film that you knew absolutely nothing about? 

The Basement, Lower Greys Ave 
March 9 to 13 2011 (all performances 7pm) 
$20/$15 Book at  


In 2010 writer/director Anders Falstie-Jensen pitched a vague idea to the Auckland Fringe Festival: he wanted to do a play featuring sweaty actors on treadmills. And that was pretty much it… Little did he know that the play originally intended only for a fringe season morphed into Standstill, one of The Rebel Alliance most critically acclaimed shows to date.

“I have a suspicion that if Standstill debuted it Britain it would be hailed an instant contemporary classic” –

“Anders Falstie-Jensen has woven an impressively-crafted, snappily-written whole out of snippets of modern life.” – NZ Herald

“Marvellous”NZ Herald, best of 2011 theatre

Given the enthusiastic response the rebels have now decided to dot the North Island with beads of sweat as they embark on their longest tour to date. In May/June Standstill will play at Q Theatre’s Loft in Auckland then head south to BATS in Wellington before wrapping up in July at Hamilton’s Meteor Theatre as part of the FUEL Festival.

Inspired by true stories and propelled by a fierce undercurrent of desperation, Standstill weaves tales of factory workers, cyclists, doctors and tour guides into a sweaty kaleidoscopic image of what happens when our dreams and ambitions collide with the lives we end up living.

Says Falstie-Jensen” At its core Standstill is provoked by something my dad said to me when I was in my 20s. He said “You need to adjust the expectations you have of life with the skills you actually have. Chances are you’ll be much happier when you do that.” At the time I had big dreams, the world was my oyster and I was involved with the arts where you’re told “Dreams CAN be reached if you just believe in yourself!” so naturally I completely disagreed.

Fast forward 13 years and, well, I’m not a fighter pilot; or a World Champion athlete;  or a doctor; or a film director/actor… I hate to admit it but maybe my dad was right.”

Standstill is about the moment in time when you reach the crossroads and realize that your life didn’t pan out the way you wanted it to and that maybe the dreams you had aren’t gonna happen. What do you do? Do you keep chasing the dreams no matter what or do you accept that:

You will never have the X factor

You will never make a significant impact on the world

You will never have a six pack

You will live an ordinary life

Starring Kevin Keys (August: Osage County), Andi Crown (Yours Truly) and Josephine Stewart Tewhiu (Chalk)

Standstill comes with a health warning: Watching the play will make you question your life and could potentially result in an immediate appointment with a psychologist that will cost you thousands of dollars as you try to come to terms with the fact that you might just be a perfectly ordinary human being.

The North Island tour of Standstill is made possible by a Quick Response Grant from Creative New Zealand.

“A company to watch” – NZ Herald 

Dominion Post interview.

Q – Loft 
30 May – June 9 2012

June 14 – 23 2012

The Meteor
July 5 – 7 2012 

Previous productions from The Rebel Alliance:
HEROIC FAUN NO. ONE “Unforgettable” – Theatreview 
THE ORDERLY – “Solo theatre as it should be” – Capital Times
GRACE – “Artistic excellence” –Theatreview
A NIGHT OF FRENCH MAYHEM – “Bold and innovative” – NZ Herald
“A company to watch” – NZ Herald



Irreverent, bizarre, compelling

Review by Gail Pittaway 06th Jul 2012

Unlike anything I’ve seen on stage since the days of the good old avant garde, from the moment the three actors step onto treadmills until they step off an hour later, they are running or stepping though a series of scenarios, so simple as to be convincing, so convincing as to be compelling.

It’s like an extended Theatre Sports gimmick.  There’s little character driven narrative, mostly monologues or sit-com scenes instead of conflict.  Yet these moments and scenes move seamlessly, all building up the theme of standing still while appearing to move.

There’s a tour guide giving spurious spiels to herded tourists, bosses with workers, career advisors and applicants, doctors and nurses, fathers and sons, wives and husbands and most hilariously the motivational trainer and desperate devotees. All the situations share the metaphors of the treadmill of life, of goal setting and training but most amazingly all these interactions happen while the players are moving on the treadmills.

The darkest moments come when the three actors become factory workers, cogs in a machine sending cans along treadmills now turned into conveyor belts. Not only is it imaginative staging, it’s also terrifyingly pointless work and is driven by foremen straight out of an Orwellian nightmare.

Kevin Keys is the marathon man, giving a powerhouse, brilliant performance, particularly as Colin the Cambridge Cannonball, trained as a cyclist by his widower father’s slapping him with a wet newspaper when he slackens the pace.

Andi Crown works a wide range of characters exceptionally well, paying equal attention to foot work as comic timing, and Josephine Stewart Tewhiu’s personal trainer is pure comedy in motion.

Most entertaining are the moments when characters interact across the treadmills, never touching. Significantly, not one of the scenes is actually set inside a gym.

The many character and scene changes are managed with careful lighting and few sound cues, apart from the almost mesmerizing sounds of the treadmills whining and feet padding. When the song bursts through as a finale, the repeated line “If you can’t change the world change yourself,” is itself a treadmill refrain presented as the actors race towards a goal of oblivion.

Written by Anders Falstie-Jensen, who also directs it with clever exploration of the versatility of the treadmill as prop and set, the play is irreverent, bizarre and sometimes, well only once , obscene. But always compelling.


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Treadmill of life presents novel and engaging theatre

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 18th Jun 2012

Every once in a while a fascinating piece of theatre comes along that is original and innovative that defies description, and even possibly understanding.  One such show is Anders Falstie-Jensen’s Standstill currently playing early evenings at BATS Theatre.

Three actors playing various characters spend an hour on treadmills regaling the audience, mainly by way of monologues, about life and modern day living. Not that they are insightful pieces on the meaning of life but rather snippets that the characters tell about themselves.

Central is Colin the Cambridge Cannonball (Kevin Keys), an internationally recognised cyclist who trains his heart out to compete at the Olympics, to the determent of all else.

Then there is Dr Peter Thompson (Andi Crown) who has a strange experience with a male nurse and Motivational speaker Josephine (Josephine Stewart Tewhiu).

Interspersed with these are other stories of going for a job interview, workers on a production line, the treadmills effectively used to move cans along a conveyer belt, and German tourists on a guided tour of NZ.

While none of the stories appear connected the one continuous strand is the fact that all the while the actors are speaking they are also jogging on the treadmills, the speed of each varying depending on the tempo of the story.

No doubt the continuous moving on the spot but in fact standing still is a metaphor for various aspects of life that are portrayed through the stories with such descriptions as the physical determination to succeed, to push one’s self to the end while on the other side of life’s coin the daily grind of working but going where and the often futility of trying to achieve coming to mind.

And while the characters are so thinly sketched that it is difficult to actually identify with any of their actual situations and although the interpretation can be whatever ever one makes of it these in no way lessen the impact of the piece.

The sheer fascination of seeing the three actors pounding away continuously while talking with animation and feeling is in itself sufficient to make the production engaging and satisfying to watch. 

And the finale, silently intensifying to music as it moves towards the climax creates a fitting ending to a unique and novel way of storytelling.


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Amusing and bemusing

Review by John Smythe 15th Jun 2012

Back in 2001, at what was then Circa Studio, we watched Jed Brophy and Eryn Wilson evoke a 15km New York Marathon training run on treadmills, in Edoardo Erba’s Marathon (English version by Colin Teevan). Of course there was more to the characters, their relationship(s), their stories and the treadmills-as-metaphor than initially met our eyes, ears and brains.

Now at Bats, Anders Falstie-Jensen’s ironically-named Standstill is simultaneously less complex, insightful and profound in its contents, and more varied in its physical presentation. Three actors play two or three characters each, plus the odd other, in an episodic series of monologues and sketched scenarios.

Colin the Cambridge Cannonball – Kevin Keys – has the most substantial story to tell, albeit as monologue in the past tense, about his stellar competitive cycling career, what provoked it and what has come after. His driven personality is well-represented on the treadmill.

Andi Crown conveys the growing concerns of Doctor Peter Thomas (why not Peta?) as male nurse John (Keys), who was once a hairdresser, intrudes too far into his personal world. I’m not sure what value the treadmill adds to this one, beyond being impressed at the actors’ ability to play it out quite naturally while maintaining the alternative pacing of the machine.

The vocal and physical dynamics of the quintessential Power Speaker are perfectly captured with true comic skill by Josephine Stewart Tewhiu, as Crown and Keys labour to become the best they can possibly be, doomed to run forever towards the elusive goal.

In this era of independent competitive questing for funding, contracts and/or jobs – in the arts, as in many other sectors – the series of professionally modulated Kafkaesque conversations between the Adviser (Crown) and Applicant / Supplicant (Keys) about why he just missed out this time and whether he should apply again is agonisingly funny. Here the treadmills represent the relentless process one dares not step away from, just in case one’s number really does come up next time.

The lot of the production-line worker is more literally evoked when the treadmills become conveyor belts carrying cans to be processed by Josephine, Kevin and Andi. This series of sketched evolve into a darkly absurdist-cum-Kafkaesque scenario wherein Dispatch is a hell-hole to which recalcitrant workers are consigned before it takes a turn that makes the endless line of look-alike cans a metaphor for meaninglessness.

Crown’s Tour Guide for snappy German Tourists takes us from Cape Reinga through Auckland to Wellington, allowing for some witty quips en route to the final destination, which I won’t reveal but it has interesting metaphysical implications concerning the nature of journey’s and theatre itself.

Overall the disparate parts are unified around the core imperative to keep going, do what you can, aim high, go hard and, as the ‘Lonely Planet’ song says, “If you can’t change the world, change yourself.”  

Given the material writer-director (producer and publicist) Anders Falstie-Jensen has pulled together and the commitment the talented trio of actors bring to Standstill, I am bemused that while I was amused and interested by effectively demonstrated skills and ideas, I was not really engaged, let alone compelled, confronted or challenged by the characters, their stories or concerns.  

For some elusive reason I feel that although it offers a good hour well spent at Bats, there is greater potential in the premise and more to be wrought from it as a play.


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Chasing the elusive dream

Review by Joanna Page 31st May 2012

Standstill celebrates the majesty in mediocrity and there’s nothing mediocre about this show. Three actors on three treadmills tear through the hour at a phenomenal pace – and I don’t mean their running tempo.

The stories keep moving – like a relay – switching from one scenario to another at breakneck speed. The characters transition smoothly and keep the momentum of the Sorkin-style dialogue (probably more Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip than West Wing). Not one of them stumble.  

Andi Crown (Andi, Dr Peter Thomas, the tour guide, the advisor), Kevin Keys (Kevin, Colin the Cambridge Cannonball, John the nurse, the man seeking advice) and Josephine Stewart Tewhiu (Josephine, the Power Speaker, various others) are equally electric, weaving the stories and bringing life to characters who want the unobtainable, only to have the end-line move farther from their reach.

It is obvious by their familiarity with, and performance of, the work it is directed by the writer, Anders Falstie-Jensen. Despite the unorthodox – albeit obvious given the show’s theme – use of treadmills, the interaction and delivery is utterly natural.

Stripping the set to just treadmills, minimal props and three spotlights keeps the focus on the elusive chase-the-dream story. Fittingly, I leave wanting more.

There’s no question that Standstill would be a success anywhere in the world. Even with the intrinsically Kiwi elements, the underlying stories and message are universal and relevant. There’s no ‘GC’ cringe here. See it and tell The Rebel Alliance Company to tour Standstill around NZ (it’s already heading for Wellington and Hamilton’s Fuel Festival) and overseas.  


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Impressively-crafted, snappily-written well-delivered

Review by Janet McAllister 13th Mar 2011

Some marvellous images are being created at the Basement this Fringe. The sets have to be dressed and struck in a matter of seconds, and these tight restrictions seem to have a stimulating effect on designers’ creativity. Earlier this week, the expansive dress in Drowning in Veronica Lakekept its wearer at a distance from her fans, and covered a multitude of sins.

Now, simply and smartly, the three actors in Standstillturn three exercise treadmills into production line conveyor belts and back again, making a mockery of modernity’s dream of individual progress. Presented in comic, spliced vignettes, some of their characters want it all. And they know – without question – what "it all" is: career, sexy body, spouse, kids. And a boat. [More]
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A good gimmick piece

Review by Stephen Austin 10th Mar 2011

In a Fringe Festival packed with interesting treats, delights and unusual experiences, it takes a lot to stand out from the crowd. Local Auckland troupe, The Rebel Alliance, have chosen a sort of ANTI-publicity campaign of not releasing any details of their new show, Standstill, in the hope that their history of presenting quality work will get punters along to see it. 

I like a bit of pot-luck now and again, but when funds are tight, are you willing to take a gamble on your entertainment of an evening? There was certainly a respectable crowd eager to find out on opening night. I’m sure this season will tell if this approach has been successful or not. 

To spoil or not to spoil, that is the question. I guess I’m going to have to, so read on only if you’re willing to have a few things about this secret show revealed.

Three actors – Candice de Villers, Brian Moore and Catherine Nola – enter the black space wheeling treadmills, plug them in and begin to run. They start relating stories inspired from real life all the while on the move. 

The futility of the situations are pretty clear early on, almost over-emphasised by the provocative constriction placed on them by the constant movement of the treadmills. The stories of each character created are interesting enough, but the metaphors are laid on a bit thick. Maybe a little less concentration of the trap of the mouse-wheel of everyday life and a bit more about the ultimate realisations and empowerment towards freedom would have given the production more forward drive. 

The actors are excellently controlled on the machines and it really is quite impressive that they sustain the performances with clarity while barely breaking a sweat or getting overly puffed. Some formal breathing training and fitness has clearly paid off for these performers. 

The climax of the play is awkwardly choreographed to music with minimal movement. The final release of freedom is somewhat powerful, but goes on a bit past its welcome.

This is essentially a good gimmick piece that has a mysterious publicity campaign. It probably needs a bit of tightening to give the work a little more forward momentum. 

This review kindly supported by The James Wallace Arts Trust

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