Te Radar’s Eating the Dog

Coronation Hall, Mosgiel, Dunedin

15/10/2010 - 16/10/2010

BATS Theatre, Wellington

12/05/2009 - 16/05/2009

Burns Hall, Dunedin

12/10/2010 - 12/10/2010

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

19/05/2009 - 23/05/2009

SKY CITY Theatre, Auckland

30/04/2010 - 30/04/2010

, Te Radar’s Eating the Dog

13/10/2010 - 14/10/2010

Downstage Theatre, Wellington

29/06/2010 - 10/07/2010

Downstage Theatre, Wellington

14/09/2011 - 01/10/2011

Otago Festival of the Arts 2010

NZ International Comedy Festival 2007-09, 2013

The Real New Zealand Festival

Production Details


Written and performed by Te Radar

Notorious Entertainment (2009) | Te Radar Foundation (2010+)


Misfits, Failures and People Who Died Trying:
Te Radar’s New Zealand Heroes

Eating the Dog is written and performed by comedian, satirist and raconteur Te Radar. It’s an educational and satirical look through New Zealand’s history focusing on the people that gave it a red hot go, but perhaps lost a limb, or their life, in the process.

The history books are full of the champions who put this country on the map and gave us an international reputation for creating ground breaking heroes. What about the people who don’t have their chapter in the history books? The ones whom we weren’t taught about at school? The ones who will never get their face on a bank note? The ones who are actually funny? Finally we have their champion in Te Radar.

Following on from Hitori, his acclaimed show on the history of the South Island, Te Radar turns his eye towards his New Zealand Heroes (both Mâori and Pakeha). The bumblers and the near-do-wells, who personify the archetypal “She’ll be right, let’s have a crack spirit” that epitomises this country. An irreverent and hilarious look at those folk who show us that in order to have success, there has got to be a few failures. Part educational history show, part installation art, a look at what it is that has made us so unique, and who helped us get here.

From the men who sparked the great Uranium Rush of the 1960’s, to New Zealand’s first aeronautical death, several years before the Wright brothers even left the earth, to the General who lost his pants and nearly doomed his army after getting lost circumnavigating Mt Taranaki, Te Radar celebrates those who tried, and more often than not failed. With the aid of a visual presentation rich with photographs, maps, and other images, the show is a hilarious romp through the pages of our history.

Te Radar has a highly regarded standing in the industry and has had huge success in latter half of 2008 by filling the 7.00pm slots on both Saturdays and Sundays on TV One with the top rating shows Homegrown and Off the Radar. He has twice won the Qantas Media Award for Best Humour Column for his musing in the New Zealand Herald. With a reputation for creating great theatrical, narrative comedy shows such as Hitori and Timor ODDyssey this will be the latest instalment from New Zealand’s leading exponent of the form.

WELLINGTON 2009
Dates:  Tuesday 12 – Saturday 16 May, 8.00pm
Venue:  BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Tce
Tickets:  Adults $18 Concession $13 Groups 8+ $15
Bookings:  book@bats.co.nz , 04 802 4175

AUCKLAND 2009
Dates:  Tuesday 19 – Saturday 23 May, 8.30pm
Venue:  The Basement, Lower Greys Ave
Tickets:  Adults $25 Concession $19 Groups 10+ $19
Bookings:  0800 TICKETEK, www.ticketek.co.nz

2010

Eating the Dog offers its audience a whole new understanding of what it is to be a New Zealander.
Witty, perceptive, and quite astonishing” Theatreview, Wellington
An intoxicating selection of bizarre stories” Theatreview, Auckland
A masterful spinning of yarns” tvnz.co.nz
“Plain astonishing…. If you don’t choke with laughter you might learn something”. Waikato Times.
There’s a trick to getting people laughing about cannibalism…Te Radar’s mastered it”. Taranaki Daily News
“We went out feeling proud to be New Zealanders” Nelson Daily Mail

Dates:  Friday 30 April, 8pm
Venue:  SKYCITY Theatre, Level 3, Cnr Wellesley & Hobson Sts, City
Tickets:  Adults $35 / Conc. & Groups 10+ $30
Bookings:  Ticketek, 0800 TICKETEK,
www.ticketek.co.nz
Show duration:  2 hours
(incl. interval)

DOWNSTAGE SEASON
Te Radar’s Eating the Dog

29 Jun – 10 Jul 2010
Times: Tue-Wed 6:30pm, Thur-Sat 8pm
Prices: $49-$25, see www.downstage.co.nz for detailed pricing
Matinee: Sat 3 Jul @ 4pm
Meet the Artists: Wed 30 Jun

Book online www.downstage.co.nz or by phone (04) 801 6946.
Downstage is proudly sponsored by BNZ.

For further information: www.radarswebsite.com  




2hrs incl. interval (2010)

A trip off history’s beaten old track

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 16th Sep 2011

When Te Radar first appears in the Victorian antiquarian’s study that is the setting for his totally delightful history lesson, he looks like a well-dressed Harpo Marx, with his ginger hair sticking out from under a top hat. In the second half he comes on like a down-at- heel Noel Coward, wearing a dressing gown and holding a huge goblet of red wine.

Like Coward but unlike Marx, he talks and doesn’t stop for two and a bit entertaining hours, and he doesn’t take a blind bit of notice of the study except for the screen above the desk on which a modern lantern show called PowerPoint is projected.

He paces back and forth exhilarated about the stories he has to tell from our country’s little- known history – or, at least, the stories we were never taught at school.

His show is a wonderful melange of stand-up comedy, history lesson, manically funny digressions (pig hunting for a television show), ad libbing and an infectious enthusiasm for life.

You will learn, among many other fascinating stories, all about New Zealand’s first and last submarine, Bob Semple’s tanks and his wheelbarrow handle memorial, New Zealand’s funniest mug shots of a criminal gang, two West Coast uranium miners’ excitement at finding this new gold, and the tale of the Taranaki Highwayman who wasn’t a very good highwayman in the days before Taranaki had highways let alone roads.

I have only one minuscule gripe (why the microphone?), and apart from that all I can do is urge you to see this love letter of a show to the past, present and future of this country.

And what better way is there to show that love than through a great deal of affectionate laughter and the occasional sober appraisal of one or two disasters? 
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Entertaining and accessible portrait of New Zealand culture

Review by Caoilinn Hughes 15th Sep 2011

Entertaining and accessible portrait of New Zealand culture 

When attending Te Radar’s Eating the Dog at Downstage Theatre last night, I wasn’t sure whether to expect a play, a history lecture, a stand-up comedy act or an entertaining informal talk on New Zealand culture. I could say I got all of these things, but it’s more accurate to say I got something different; something not easily categorised… Unique – and certainly something I’d never seen before.

I saw a truly enthusiastic, vibrant and enlightening portrayal of New Zealand heritage and identity by a highly articulate and charismatic comedian, performer, educator and Kiwi ambassador. I saw audience members on the edge of their seats – not due to carefully measured suspense – but because they seemed to want to physically or discursively engage with what was going on, as the show unfurled like an impressive, aesthetically pleasing and culturally significant fern.

They were seeing something they understood, cared about, and felt part of, and in which they wanted to participate somehow; to locate themselves in Te Radar’s discussion of New Zealand historical and cultural identity, which he addresses through the stories of a dozen or so under-recognised heroic (or anti-heroic) and iconic figures of New Zealand history: Brunner, Maui, Wakefield, Te Rauparaha, Te Rangihaeata, Hone Mokekehu (a.k.a. Hone Mokehakeha), George Wilder, Bob Semple and more. And Te Radar, like a good stand-up comedian, allows for this participation.

Te Radar asks if anyone has ever heard of the uranium rush of 1955. A man responds: “I was given a piece of that uranium, but it was taken off my by the nuns. They caught me using it to read under my bed sheets at night.” Te Radar grabs that piece of uranium and juggles with it. When New Zealand architecture comes up, Te Radar gets an impromptu dig in at the architect of Downstage Theatre, who happens to be in the audience.

Involving another audience member, Te Radar asks what they do for a living. The lady is one of the Image Editors at Te Ara – the Encyclopoedia of New Zealand, around which Te Radar has based his entire show! He clenches up and mumbles something about having ‘liberated’ some imagery from the site, and invites the Te Ara employee for a post-show drink. Brilliant!

This audience interaction epitomises the type of show this is: something very much alive and on the table. Kiwi culture in action. It is a celebration of the awkward and interesting anecdotes of history that make us who we are: “rogues, morons and scoundrels… pooh-poohing the idea of danger.”

The return of Te Radar’s show to Downstage is very appropriate for the Rugby World Cup, as it presents an entertaining and accessible portrait of New Zealand culture, which visitors will surely find illuminating. But it is also an important selection because of the nature of the show: Eating the Dog is intellectually and culturally accessible by all classes of society. It speaks to all kinds of New Zealanders, at a time when the New Zealand theatre industry desperately needs to have a more inclusive, larger audience.

To find out that Downstage has had to make redundancies as recently as last week is very dis-heartening, as the theatre is a vital part of New Zealand culture, and needs the ongoing support and patronage of Wellingtonians: all kinds of Wellingtonians. This is not elitist, exclusivist theatre. A wide range of shows are supported by Downstage, which reflect the diversity of New Zealand society. This kind of quality New Zealand theatre needs and deserves an audience.

Come and see Te Radar’s Eating the Dog at Downstage and don’t let New Zealand theatre get to a point where it has to consider eating the dog. 
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History made exciting, hilarious and inspiring

Review by Ben Blakely 14th Oct 2010

Te Radar has been a fixture in the New Zealand comedy scene for as long as I can remember. He also has proven himself to be a dab hand at personifying an eco warrior on the telly. Tonight however, Te Radar is presenting his Dunedin audience with a selection of tales about New Zealanders “who personify the archetypal ‘She’ll be right’ spirit.”

Walking into the Burns Hall I’m a little unsure of what to expect. As soon as I see I am half the average age of the audience this turns into something a bit more like apprehension. The first few minutes of any comedian’s set are tough. In that time you have to warm up an expectant audience and convince them you are funny and worth the price of the ticket. However, I’m not quite sure if this is going to be a regular comedy set, there’s a projector and what looks to be a PowerPoint presentation all ready to go, maybe this is going to be more like a lecture.

Regardless, a few local references are thrown in – the stadium, Peter Chin – and he drinks from a bottle of Emerson’s Pilsner. This is great fodder for the middle aged crowd and they are lapping it up. Obviously Te Radar knows how to play to his crowd and is doing a great job, but at this stage I am hopping for a little bit more.

A scene is then set: it is a New Zealand forest. A weary English traveller is trekking through the South Island with his dog, two Mâori companions and their wives. They are seeking wide open plains for the New Zealand Company to sell on to new immigrants. But all is not well. Having a diet consisting of mostly fern root, our poor traveller is rather blocked up, he’s tired and there certainly doesn’t seem to be any of these open plains that were promised. His prospects, to quote the man himself, are “fearful” …

In order to fully explain how our traveller got into his current predicament we are taken some 100 years back to the arrival of Captain Cook. It is here that the magic of the show starts to begin. My initial apprehension is soon quashed as I am drawn in by Te Radar’s ability to tell and weave stories together. Now I begin to realise that while this maybe a bit of a history lesson, it’s the version not taught to us in school. Instead it will be the exciting, and hilarious version.

Sometimes it seems that with such a small history, New Zealand doesn’t have much to offer the historical record but Te Radar certainly proved this school of thought wrong. We need not look overseas for stars in history, we have our very own.

We may not have had a Butch Cassidy or Sundance Kid, but we sure had our Taranaki Highway bandit. Whether he made away with any form of money is beside the point. Did New Zealand have a submarine programme? We sure did. Did we build more than one? Certainly not.

New Zealand has a proud history of artists. But what about our sketch artists? In what was possibly the most hilarious moment of the evening we were shown just how strikingly accurate our early sketch artists were.

What links all of the stories together is a sense that in each tale we have a typical Kiwi character who went ahead guns blazing, and came out second best. Te Radar takes what is well known about our history and offers an alternative slant to it. It is evident that a lot of research has gone into the piece, fuelled by a sense of curiosity. It is here that Te Radar is not only clever but inspiring. I certainly am very keen to go out to some of our local museums around the country and see not only what was in the show but discover some hidden gems.

I haven’t gone into great detail about the show as I feel that to do so would take away from the fantastic story-telling technique of Te Radar. The show has to be seen for itself. Needless to say you will certainly learn something in a very entertaining in a unique way.

What is evident from the show as a whole is that the Kiwi spirit has been with us from quite early on in our short [Pakeha] history. Huge thanks must go to Te Radar for bringing this to light for the public to see.
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Te Radar makes our history easy

Review by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 06th Jul 2010

History lessons at school, or University even, where never as interesting, or as stimulating as the one Te Radar gives in his show Eating the Dog currently playing at Downstage.

But then the snippets of New Zealand history that he selects for his show are not those normally found in a history class. With originality and creativity, Te Radar has researched an amazing array of facts that very few would have ever heard of or known about.

What makes his subject matter the more fascinating is that they are about people in our past who had infamous moments of fame as well as being famous and many of whom applied the Kiwi DIY, No 8-wire mentality to their exploits.

The title of the show is in reference to a little known South Island explorer Thomas Brunner, who had to resort to dog meat for food when one of his explorations went horribly wrong.

This is the first of numerous intriguing and unknown facts about well-known men of our history such as Abel Tasman, the Wakefield brothers, Von Tempsky and Bob Semple – as well as lesser-known ones such as the Burgess Gang of Nelson, the Taranaki Highwayman, and Sir Trevor Chute trying to lead his men around Mt Taranaki.

Then there is the gold-seeking submarine, still in existence apparently in Dunedin, and the astronaut Charles Lorraine flying above Christchurch long before Richard Pearce.

Dressed like some 19th-century explorer, the confidently engaging Te Radar brings much humour and animation to his storytelling giving a modern interpretation to his stories, putting them in the context of today.

His delivery is strong and well paced – it is surprising, therefore, that he has to resort to the use of a microphone in such a small venue.

But that is really the only quibble of a unique and thoroughly entertaining show that traverses many unknown pages of our history.
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A paradoxical achievement

Review by John Smythe 29th Jun 2010

Having reviewed its world premiere at Bats in May last year, and knowing it had gone on to play Auckland’s The Basement and Dunedin Fringe (among other places) then return to the SkyCity Theatre earlier this year, I sort of assumed the Downstage season would be different.

Well it is and it isn’t. The substantive content is exactly the same, and I can do no better than to refer you to my earlier review which says everything I would have said this time around.

Performance-wise Te Radar is more relaxed and assured yet still as lively, enthusiastic and discursive as ever, delighting us afresh with his rediscovery of these stories and with injecting topical asides that prove we Kiwis were ever thus. There is more comedian and less ‘mad historian’, perhaps.

Paradoxically this celebration of “the bumblers and ne’er-do-wells who made this country great” is a great achievement that everyone should witness, if only to say to their grand children, “I was there when Te Radar popped the pimple of our self-importance and showed us who we really were.”

Yes, “were”. Yeah right. Just go.

PS: There are also opportunities over the next few weeks – details here – to catch the show in Kaihere, Eketahuna, Pongaroa, Clevedon, Te Tahu and Whangarei. You gotta love this guy. 
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Riveting hilarity

Review by Nik Smythe 02nd May 2010

Once again Andrew ‘Te Radar’ Lumsden, now famous from the telly, excavates a veritable mine (field) of the kind of gritty, determined, certifiable lunatics and hapless, well-meaning morons that he believes are the backbone of what makes New Zil’nd the nation it is today. 
 
Being so original, as in vastly more academic and conceptual than your standard stand-up comic, it’s difficult to compare Te Radar’s work to anything for critiquing purposes. Developed from his earlier South-island specific Hitori, this second run of Eating the Dog has expanded by an hour and graduated to the pseudo-majestic Skycity Theatre. It was only one night so if you didn’t catch it, you missed it, sorry.
 
The two-plus hours consists of already fascinating, often criminally unheralded tales of said suckers garnished liberally with Te Radar’s eccentric style of rampant cheek and erudite wit. His melodic chatter is itself a departure from the classic tight-lipped deadpan Kiwi demeanour.
 
There’s also plenty of idle Ronnie-Corbettesque diversionary chatter about scenes we never saw in Off The Radar, how his current show Radar’s Patch is going, going on holiday with his Mum and so on. He also welcomes questions, keeping it real as a live and interactive routine-come-intriguing-lecture. 
 
The retinue of mainly unfortunate characters exploited for Te Radar’s entertaining ends includes such household names as Abel Tasman and Richard Pearce but he’s also dredged up numerous tales of less famous pioneers and partisans who each in their own way truly excelled at misadventure.  I suppose this explains why they are less famous – their failures were greater than their triumphs, in fact a fair few perished in the course of their heroic screw-ups.
 
One guest suggested that something is lost in the large-scale arena. This may be case, given Te Radar is so effective in more intimate settings such as the Classic and Basement theatres where the earlier versions played; or as any of the lucky few who saw the unique show he performed one Comedy Festival during the 90s in a caravan seating eleven parked outside the Town Hall, would attest [prophetically-cum-predictably it was called Will Sell Out].
 
However anything potentially missing from the more up-close and personal examples is more than compensated for by what this level adds to the experience, and Te Radar controls the giant room with aplomb with his riveting hilarity.
 
The period costume, resembling a kind of Mad Hatter, is a worthy enhancement for a start, particularly the knee-high boots, giving an almost stately air to the authoritative lecture. The large screen with ingenious lo-fi hi-tech PowerPoint visuals, the wizardry of which is credited to one Ruth Spencer, also contributes a lot toward justifying the length of the show and the scale of the venue.

I don’t think it’s giving too much away pointing out that Radar was unable to locate dirt on any historical women whose incompetence came anywhere near enough to the myriad hopeless blokes to warrant inclusion in the work. 

All in all this material is strong enough to warrant an in-depth series (kind of a serious though still hilarious version of Jeremy Wells’ The Unauthorised History of New Zealand). It could also certainly make for an excellent book.
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Intoxicating selection of bizarre stories

Review by Sian Robertson 20th May 2009

Te Radar’s penchant for storytelling and some admirable research combine to form a hilarious and off-the-beaten-track history lesson. It’s jam-packed with stories of New Zealand’s entrepreneurial ‘doofusses’ and DIY nutters of the kind you won’t find in a high school history book.

Without exception these enthusiastic adventurers’ ‘she’ll be right’ attitude have got them into serious trouble, much to our comedic benefit. Te Radar’s ebullient PowerPoint-illustrated discourse is peopled with clueless outlaws, a vanished aeronaut, creative property developers, diehard explorers, prison escapees and insights into some of the more ridiculous geographical names, as well as his own experiences of pig hunting and a peppering of commentary on NZ politics and the contemporary media.

There are links to his show ‘Hitori’ on the history of the South Island, but this one covers both Islands. It’s a selective history, of the dubious legacy left to us by some of the nuttier figures that ‘make us who we are today’, most of whom I’d never heard of. The redeeming feature of all his historical characters is that their stupidity/daring has provided us with a great source of entertainment.

This isn’t your usual stand-up routine. The intensely paced monologue, with hardly a pause for breath, doesn’t stop to check if we’re laughing, though he somehow manages to squeeze some funny bone action in there amongst the essential and interesting background notes.

The value of the show is in its fascination factor – it’s an intoxicating selection of bizarre stories, which, after the show was over, left me with a simmering warm feeling of internal laughter at the expense of the unfortunate sods that populate Eating the Dog. It would make a great comic book. 
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Witty, perceptive and quite astonishing

Review by John Smythe 13th May 2009

The title refers to the pretty pass one may come to when one stuffs up as an explorer. Specifically this happened to Thomas Brunner and party during their early ornithological exploration of the South Island’s West Coast.

Te Radar has burrowed into our history to drag up "the bumblers and the ne’er-do-wells who personify the "She’ll be right" spirit that epitomises this great country." (publicity flyer)

With his characteristic glee at discovering and sharing anything odd, idiosyncratic and questionable about our past histories and present natures, Te Radar plunges us – via PowerPoint – deep into a land richly populated with a wide variety of birds. Then comes Brunner, guided by Epikewaiti and Mokakehu and their wives (spellings as per Brunner’s diary, I think) …

In Te Radar’s view, the eight words penned in Brunner’s diary when things have got about as bad as they could get "sum up what it is to be a New Zealander" (no I won’t reveal them here; you have to see them in context).  They also set the theme for the hour to come.

We leap right back to (not so) Able Tasman then forward to the Wakefields (Edwards Gibbon and Jerningham, and the ill-fated Arthur), with the odd connection made to more recent times, like Te Radar’s descent into the belly of the beast while pig hunting with Glen Osborne. Graphic.

When bad land deals go badder, we learn a salutary lesson from Te Rauparaha and Te Rangihaeata. And naming issues get a good run too: the more things change …

I’d never heard of the Great Uranium Rush of 1955, in and around the Buller Gorge. Nor of The Burgess Gang, the bringing to justice of whom is far too bizarre a tale to have been made up. The Taranaki Highwayman is news to me too – hey, we had it all!

As for Sir Trevor Chute’s attempt to march his 500 men around the mountain (Taranaki) …

The more familiar Bob Semple is a surprise inclusion until we learn about his tanks. Then there is the gold-seeking submarine made by a bunch of Australians called Villain for a Mayor by the name of Fish. All true.  

We’ve all heard of Richard Pearce but what about hot air balloonist Charles Lorraine, pioneer of our extreme sports industry? The story of his demise brings the hour to a poignant ending.

I have but sketched the bare bones here of what is decidedly not a dog. The flesh Te Radar puts on them is witty, perceptive and quite astonishing in multifarious ways. What’s more he reveals hitherto hidden talents in vocal and physical performance, specifically the call of the conch and the dance of indecision.

Highly recommended.
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Richard Grevers May 14th, 2009

I hate to spoil a reviewer's pun, John, but it's Abel Tasman 

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