BATS Theatre, Wellington

24/03/2015 - 28/03/2015

Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science & History, Main Street - the Dark Room, Palmerston North

03/07/2015 - 04/07/2015

Production Details

How well do you know your Bible? 

From the exciting young company behind Rageface and Proficiency Test comes The Good News, a show about Bible stories and spontaneous storytelling where every chapter and verse is presented as recalled: muddled, misremembered and massively mixed up.

Johnny Crawford (lapsed Catholic) and Adam Goodall (Anglican dropout) wanted to know how well people knew their Bible stories, so they’ve asked friends, family, strangers and colleagues to retell them: no cues, no corrections, no “ask me laters”. Join the Making Friends Collective as three eager young sermonisers present to you chopped and screwed versions of classic tales like the Creation, the Birth of Jesus and the Book of Revelations. This is the Good Book, one mistake at a time.

Following in the fine oral tradition of Drunk History and the Nature Theater of Oklahoma, the Making Friends Collective are taking you back to Sunday School with The Good News, a scrappy, hilarious, high-energy look at our relationship with religion and the stories we use to define ourselves.

The Making Friends Collective is Adam Goodall, Johnny Crawford, Andrew Clarke, Tony Black and Flinn Gendall. The Good News is their sixth production, following Rageface (Fringe at the Gryphon, February 2013; nominated for Best Newcomers at the New Zealand Fringe Awards 2013), Stages of Fear (BATS Theatre, October 2013), Euthermia/Hyperpyrexia (BATS Theatre, New Zealand Fringe Festival 2014), Proficiency Test (Wellington High School, New Zealand Fringe Festival 2015) and Game Day (New Zealand Fringe Festival 2015).

WHERE: BATS Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, Wellington 
WHEN: 7pm, 24 to 28 March 2015 
Tickets to The Good News can be booked
online at or by calling (04) 802 4175.
Tickets are $18 full or $14 concession

WHAT: The Making Friends Collective presents The Good News
WHERE: The Dark Room, cnr. Church and Pitt Streets, opposite Centrepoint, Palmerston North
WHEN: 7:30pm, 3rd and 4th July 2015

Interviews conducted by Johnny Crawford and Adam Goodall 

CAST:  Amy Griffin-Browne (Mothy), Harriet Hughes (28 Days: A Period Piece) and James Cain (Gift of the Gab)

Theatre ,

Chaotic and coherent

Review by Richard Mays 07th Jul 2015

“It’s a heavy book…a grim read.” That’s how a couple of unidentified respondents describe the Holy Bible in this performance free-for-all through the pages of both Testaments. 

A work devised around word-for-word recollections by 21 people who were interviewed about the Bible and religion, The Good News is far from being heavy, or grim.

On an open stage, apart from a couple of plastic toy boxes, three young performers – Amy Griffin-Browne, Harriet Hughes and James Cain – deliver the transcripts of the Bible‘s “non-Hollywood narrative structure” beginning with “In the beginning” and working their way through to ‘Revelation’. 

God – complete with masquerade stick-mask beard – Adam and Eve and Lilith; the flood, courtesy of a water pistol and animal toys; confusion between Noah and Moses; the number 40; Abraham and Isaac, with Isaac somehow becoming Joseph’s dad in the coat of many colours tale. Is Moses Christian Bale or Russell Crowe? No matter, the plague of locusts is rendered using a couple of released partially-inflated fluttering balloons. Clever. 

David and Goliath, Elijah and Elisha, Job, King Solomon as Jay-Z, Jonah and the whale all whizz by – then all of a sudden, Jesus, John the Baptist, Zaccheus, the last supper, the Resurrection and the multi-headed creatures of ‘Revelation’, while managing to reference Rugrats and The Simpsons.

It’s as if the Ugly Shakespeare Company had decided to tackle the iconic tome. And it’s a well-honed, well-juggled and amusing hour and a quarter presentation, with the performers at pace sensitively capturing and relaying the nuances and speech patterns of the transcript respondents in all their sincerest biblical uncertainty.

Censorship did apply apparently, to the more profane expressions during the performance delivered at Feilding’s St John the Evangelist Church, but apart from that, this misremembered re-expression of the Good Book takes place verbatim.

Its fluency says plenty for the curation and arrangement of the interviews, and for the skill of the actors who capture both the chaotic and the coherent without missing a beat.


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Seamless ensemble ring bells

Review by Jo Blick 25th Mar 2015

I have to admit, I was a little nervous about attending The Good News. I’d been led to believe it was going to involve humorous re-tellings of bible stories but part of me was a little worried that it might actually be a stealth attack on the BATS audience by an overly-earnest Church Youth Group. My fears weren’t allayed by the three actors’ brightly coloured polo shirts, the wardrobe choice of ever smiling Bible Class leaders everywhere. Should I have brushed up on the lyrics to ‘Kumbayah’ before I arrived? 

Luckily there’s no group sing-a-long in The Good News and it’s only a religious show in that the subject matter is religion. The polo shirts are a red herring and the three energetic performers – Amy Griffin-Browne, Harriet Hughes and James Cain – take us through some rather bizarre and wonderful re-workings of bible stories, utilising a fine supporting cast of stuffed toys and some rather fetching false beards.  

Show curators Adam Goodall and Johnny Crawford asked people to tell them their version of bible stories and in The Good News, present them verbatim. They’re not quite how you remember from Sunday School but definitely more entertaining. 

Elijah and Elisha the Prophets are violent bad-arses, everyone gets Noah and Moses mixed up and Satan is gangsta like Jay-Z. By interspersing the bible stories with vignettes on the subjects of belief and religion, Goodall and Crawford offer a more thoughtful take than expected and the re-tellings reveal more about the inherent ridiculousness of the stories than any snide commentary could. 

The initial blistering pace of the show sometimes makes it difficult to tell which cast member is playing which character. This seems to settle as the show goes on, with the three actors working seamlessly as an ensemble. They successfully kept it tight and pacy right to the end without sacrificing any of the emotion of the quieter portions of the show. Certainly, it never feels like my interest is flagging. 

The Good News will certainly ring a few bells for anyone who has ever been held captive in a Sunday School class as well as those who have willingly dabbled in the ways of the Lord. I for one am intrigued enough by some of the stories to want to investigate them further. I’ll probably use Wikipedia and not The Bible though. After all, as a character in The Good News says, “I tried to read the Bible once and didn’t get very far. It’s a grim read!” That’s fair warning, indeed!


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