THE EDGE Box Café, Auckland

20/02/2013 - 03/03/2013

Auckland Fringe 2013

Production Details


A unique and truly Fringe experience awaits those who enter The Enigma Box. 

Appearing first outside Aotea Centre Box Café and then The Basement, The Enigma Box has space for only three people at a time.

Inside the box is an actor, ready to give a theatrical performance up close and personal. A rotating team of secret actors will be inside the box during the Fringe season.

Audience members can select from the Enigma Menu what they’d like the actor to perform; the menu offers a tantalising range of theatrical scenarios written by guest writers. These might be a story, a song, a Shakespeare, or a seduction. Each mystery actor will have their only nightly ‘special’ to showcase their forte.

Each session lasts for 20 minutes, with a maximum of 2 audience members.

The Enigma Box offers audiences the chance to order their own experience performed exclusively for them by the mystery actor – and they won’t know who the actor is until they venture inside.

The Enigma Box is presented by Theatre of Love, who want to experiment with a different way of presenting and viewing theatre.

“Our actors will be performing just for you,” says Producer James Wenley “and you can choose what kind of experience you’ll like – our menu will offer both the serious and silly.” With a new actor and new specials each night, who knows what can be encountered in The Enigma Box?

Auckland Fringe runs from 15 February to 10 March 2013. For more Auckland Fringe information go to

THE ENIGMA BOX takes place
20th February – 3rd March
Duration: 20 minutes
Venue: THE EDGE Box Café (20th – 23rd) / The Basement Outside (27th February – 3rd March)
Tickets: $10 Bookings: iTICKET – or 09 361 1000

20 mins

Intimate five course menu

Review by Reynald Castaneda 21st Feb 2013

The Enigma Box is a fun house curiosity, a time machine and a confessional, all conveniently condensed in a tiny box that can only fit two audience members and an actor in the middle Aotea Square.  Talk about unusual.

Directed and produced by James Wenley for the Theatre of Love, it’s a collection of five short skits delivered as if you were in a degustation restaurant. A maître d’ welcomes you into the box, gives you the Enigma Menu and lets you choose which course you want to consume first. Or consume again.

Because life is short, I’d recommend you start with dessert. Fortune Telling by James Wenley, the last skit on the list, is an amusing little number. An audience member’s palm, and other body parts, is read by a mystic. The script is cleverly written, featuring platitudes broad enough to make it feel personal – from wonderful things you want to hear to implied cringe-inducing revelations about your personality.

Of course, the experience is different between the audience participant and the audience observer, creating comedy from the uncanny. This is a parody of the cosmic and it works.

Participants Wanted by Haemia Foote brilliantly milks awkwardness between strangers trapped within a confined space. How? By proposing a threesome. Angela claims to be an insomniac and sex with strangers is next on her list of possible remedies (naturally).

Insomnia is clearly a McGuffin here as comedy transpires from Angela’s neurosis about how the threesome will happen between herself and her two audience members.

Schrödinger’s Curse by Andrew Parker is a metaphysical and existential look at being inside a box. Using Austrian physicist Erwin Schrödinger’s thought experiment involving a cat, a box, a flask of poison and a radioactive source, the skit draws attention to its setting – being in a small wooden box isolated from the busy foot traffic outside.

Reminiscent of monologues from philosophical shows like Lost, who constantly bombard audience members with philosophical ideas and questions that don’t necessarily have answers, Schrödinger’s Curse brims with this kind of talk, which might require a huge amount of suspension of disbelief.

Renee Liang’s Late-Night Confessions of a Paediatrician is undoubtedly the most personal offering of The Enigma Box. Audience members become willing participants to an on-going caesarean delivery and while waiting, the doctor tries to break the tension through small talk – from the banal to the personal. Although I appreciate how audience members also become actors in this piece, pathos here feels forced, with limitation of time solely to blame.

The last skit we opted for was Dear Santa by Ben Moore. Before it began, our 20 minutes inside the box was up. Just as well. Being with “a demon (that) begins an inappropriate relationship” is the last thing I want to experience in a confined space.

On The Enigma Box’s opening night, Emmanuelle Bains, the actress, manages to carefully balance performance and reacting to her audience without totally invading their personal space. It’s the perfect thing to do before dinner, before a movie, or before catching one of the other fabulous plays featured at the Auckland Fringe.

There’s a new actor each night with a whole new menu on offer, successfully seducing repeated visits. 


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo