Q Theatre Loft, 305 Queen St, Auckland

24/07/2015 - 08/08/2015

Production Details


From the creative team behind the award-winning Kiwi cabaret Daffodils, Bullet Heart Club returns to Auckland’s Q Theatre with a chilling, electronic alt. theatre experience about the hunt for human connection.

The Deliberate Disappearance of My Friend, Jack Hartnett had a short development showing in the 2015 Auckland Arts Festival and will open for its world premiere season on 24 July, starring Westside and Daffodils’ Todd Emerson with a live band.

It’s 2am and Oliver is still at the office. His next move depends on Jack. Jack left work without notice in search of Anja – the woman behind 152 emails sitting in Jack’s inbox.

Auckland. Paris. Amsterdam. Zagreb. The echo of Anja’s voice drives Jack’s search. When Oliver is granted online access to Jack’s innermost thoughts, the fragile balance between observer and participant is broken, leading Oliver to commit an irreversible crime.  

Bullet Heart Club is one of the country’s boldest new theatre companies. Their premiere show, Daffodils saw two sold-out, award-winning seasons in Auckland before a huge tour of all regional festivals this year. The show has been highly acclaimed by critics and audiences, and continues to tour through the country.

Co-director of Bullet Heart Club Kitan Petkovski says, “With Jack Hartnett, we wanted to create something within in our signature style – the coming together of contemporary music, media and stories – yet completely different in tone and genre to Daffodils. As such, the soundtrack is original in its entirety, written specifically for the show, and the story goes to a very different place.”

The Deliberate Disappearance of My Friend, Jack Hartnett is directed by Conrad Newport, a Wellington-based director with a strong mastery and heritage in staging new New Zealand plays. His command of new scripts has seen Newport direct the world premiere of Dave Armstrong’s Central in the 2015 Wanaka Festival of Colour and the 2013 world premiere of Patrick Evans’ Gifted, among others.   

With a script written by 2015 Michael King Residency Recipient Rochelle Bright (Daffodils) and set to a sonic-avalanche of a score by Abraham Kunin (Esther Stephens & The Means, Coach, Junelle), Jack Hartnett is performed by Westside’s Todd Emerson and a live band comprising Kunin, Leon Radojkovic (Brel, Live, Live Cinema) and Alex Freer, who will tour with Tiny Ruins and Bic Runga later this year.

Please visit the web site here or call 09 309 9771.

The Deliberate Disappearance of My Friend, Jack Hartnett is the first to feature in this year’s Q Presents programme – a partnership programme supported by Q Theatre for independent companies that push the boundaries of their art form.

24 July – 8 August, 2015
Q Theatre Loft, Auckland

Theatre , Musical ,

Musical thriller intrigues

Review by Janet McAllister 27th Jul 2015

Bullet Heart Club is well-named: the outfit that produced Rochelle Bright’s heartbreaker hit Daffodils now brings us Bright’s shot at heart-stopping suspense. But keeping the tension taut and the entertainment high in a one-man musical thriller is a tall order: songs are liable to ease the sense of danger and a thug can’t really stand over his victim when they’re both played by the same guy.

The show nearly makes it. Jane Hakaraia’s lighting and Tom Anderson’s soundscape keep the nerves on alert throughout, and the satisfying narrative arc (arguably barring a superfluous coda) works nicely. [More]


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Why should we care about Jack?

Review by James Wenley 26th Jul 2015

Did you see Daffodils? Wasn’t it great? For Metro Magazine I named it best debut for the 2014 best in theatre wrap-up. Rochelle Bright and her Bullet Heart Club collaborators have acknowledged their sophomore work, The Deliberate Disappearance of my Friend, Jack Hartnett is like a much anticipated second album. The difficult second album.

They’ve gone darker. There’s no light relief. Todd Emerson spends half of the show scowling at us. Musically, they no longer have the safety net of the kiwi pop song. I think they know that this time their show won’t be universally adored. I think they know that some people are going to walk out afterwards hating the show.

I hate that I have to write this, but that includes me. [More]


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Richly layered production values

Review by Vanessa Byrnes 26th Jul 2015

This solo piece, written by Rochelle Bright and performed by the multi-talented and witty Todd Emerson in Q Loft Theatre, is presented with exceptional production values. The makers of Daffodils bring a similar formula of storytelling and song to this performance, which is essentially a story about finding connection in the most unlikely places.

The Deliberate Disappearance of My Friend, Jack Hartnett is a thriller of sorts; because of that, I won’t spoil the mystery that the narrative unfolds. Episodic, loud, and simmering with suspense, the triggers (literal and figurative) propel a cracking good story. This, I think, is at the heart of the piece. The blurb describes it as ‘about two lonely souls, self-fulfillment and deliberate destruction’, and this is the central idea underneath all the production layers so richly on offer.

Todd Emerson carries the performance with an intriguing gravity. He plays an intelligent, sardonic Oliver; an ‘Everyman’ who works for a corporation in downtown Auckland. An unexpected plumbing event at work shifts his usual 9-5 existence to an unpredictable rally of choice and consequence. Oliver is flawed and cynical. He’s easy to connect with and, in turn, is easily tempted to pick up the scent left by co-worker Jack Hartnett, a shy anti-hero who we meet through Oliver.

Emerson’s singing punctuates the two characters’ needs and desires. I must make mention of Abraham Kunin, Leon Radojkovic and Alex Freer who, as a trio, play soundscapes and characters with melodic complexity and sensory depth that constantly fill the space. Abraham Kunin’s compositions and musical direction are a treat.

The space is filled with sound; sometimes, too much so. I can’t always make out the words in the songs that are so full of feeling, and silence, when it comes, is golden. The electronic harmonies are extraordinary at times, but do threaten to overtake the narrative. This is a fine line but it’s worth exploring further.  

There are also some challenges set up by the narrative/song/narrative/song/narrative structure that could be disrupted further to escape predictability creeping into this pattern. Can both be integrated more? I’m really intrigued by this.  

Conrad Newport’s direction finds specific nuances and simplicity in the different worlds traversed in this play-with-songs. Dan Williams’ beautifully cold metal set, a cross, offers a gorgeously sterile platform on which an intimate experience unfolds close to us. I’ve not seen Q Loft in this arrangement before and I really like it. As always, Jane Hakaraia’s lighting design is rich, strong and versatile, totally able to create a karaoke bar one minute and a snow-drift in Zagreb the next.

Tom Anderson’s sound design is a feat in this space; this is a tricky thing to get right in such close proximity. The whole team is to be applauded for the exceptionally high production values on offer. Q Theatre and Bullet Heart Club are onto a strong co-producing relationship here.

All in all, this brooding, cool piece is an unexpected story told by consummate professionals. With very little but words, sound, and light in a delineated space, the environments shift quickly and my imagination is fully engaged. I want to be swept away by it, and to some extent this doesn’t always happen as the emotional response becomes secondary to the cerebral. The mystery surrounding the ‘facts’ of the piece perhaps outweighs the feeling.

But I am really a fan of this kind of formula that involves different ways of telling a story. It can bring a whole new demographic to theatre. Risky, alive, and at times a bit hard to hear. But most of all it gets my vote as it doesn’t pander to the known formulas of popular theatre, while harnessing high production values. See it.   

NB: Adult themes, violence & loud music. Recommended ages 16+


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