The Hall, Woodford House, Havelock North

28/09/2017 - 28/09/2017


Production Details

1913. True story. Miss Florence LeMar, Kiwi vaudevillian, has an epiphany. Discovering the health-giving and life-saving benefits of the Ancient Oriental Arts she is compelled to share them with the world.

Fearless, unstoppable, and armed with her apocryphal handbook, ‘The Life and Adventures of Miss Florence LeMar – The World’s Famous Ju-Jitsu Girl’, Flossie and husband Joseph Gardiner tour their popular star turn, ‘The Hooligan and the Lady’. It is a sensation.

For a wager of one hundred pounds, formidable Flossie takes challenges from the floor. Many try, none succeed. The story of a love affair, antipodean vaudeville and the latent ability of the feminine species to knock twenty different kinds of nonsense out of brutes and bad men everywhere.

For more information about the show: or find us on facebook @thehooliganandthelady 

The Hall, Woodford House
Thu Sep 28th
19:00 – 20:00
Adult:  $42
Concession:  $37

Performed by Champa Maciel, Alex Greig, Jamie Macphail, Amanda Jackson, Jane Sutherland and Will Couper.
Musicians: Rosie Langabeer and Anton Wuts 

Theatre ,

Never less than jolly good fun

Review by Jenny Wake 30th Sep 2017

Vaudeville shows, featuring a variety of comedy, music, dance, slapstick, magic and acrobatic acts, were enormously popular in the late 18th and early 19th centuries. Cook Place Productions’ The Hooligan & The Lady by Miss Florence LeMar, The World’s Famous Ju-Jitsu Girl, as presented at the 2017 Harcourts Hawke’s Bay Arts Festival, proves the genre still has enormous appeal.

The Hooligan & The Lady is a play based on the true story of Florence Warren, a New Zealand vaudeville performer who rejected traditional views of the ‘weaker sex’ and proposed that crimes against women would be greatly reduced if only they would all learn the ancient art of Ju-Jitsu. From 1911 to 1917, she toured Australasia as Miss Florence LeMar, performing a popular show that was part lecture, part Ju-Jitsu demo and featured a series of skits in which she used the martial art techniques to escape the clutches of evil men. 

In telling Florence Warren’s story, writer and director Pauline Ellen Hayes has crafted an entertainment chock-full of the melodramatic elements (dastardly villains, daring heroines, a dash of mysticism) that delighted vaudeville audiences 100 years ago.  

Woodford Hall in Havelock North is the perfect choice of venue, its small proscenium-arched stage, wooden panelling and added buntings, footlights, plush drapes and vintage stage lanterns immediately evoking the vaudeville era.   

The performers, designers and director clearly relish playing with all that the vaudeville and melodrama genres have to offer, and Thursday evening’s capacity audience responds obligingly with boos and applause whenever prompted. A slow first scene, some timing lapses and a wardrobe malfunction for the leading lady (handled with grace) fails to dampen the light-hearted, good-natured spirit of this production. From beginning to end, the show is never less than jolly good fun.

Jamie Macphail is at home in his role as Quintus Penumbra, vaudeville company manager and MC, ably supported by Amanda Jackson and Jane Sutherland as fortune tellers Madam Adamantine and Mrs Hortense Esmerelda Cake the Third, and by Will Couper as strongman Hubert Heft. Alex Greig plays Florence’s husband, wrestler Joseph Gardiner, finding a sympathetic balance between likeable cheerleader and unfaithful opportunist.

Champa Maciel shines in the dual roles of the formidable Florence Warren (alias Miss Florence LeMar) and sexy Fanciforia Mooncake. Engagingly vivacious, with all the right moves for both Ju-Jitsu expert and “the most delectable pair of panties this side of the black stump”, she moves deftly and convincingly between the roles.

That said, I wondered at the decision to have one actor play both characters. Perhaps it serves as a reminder that Florence had been destined to be much like Fanciforia, and to highlight the victimised Fanciforia as flipside to the victoriously self-defensive Miss LeMar. But the doubling limits what could – nay, should – be a climactic confrontation between the two characters, underlining Florence Warren’s legacy to those women her alter ego may have inspired. As it is, the play’s denouement seems abrupt and disjointed to me, despite having all the ingredients for a rousing, if bittersweet, finale.

Special mention must be made of the Hooligan Band. Rosie Langabeer, Anton Wuts, Joe Dobson and Paul Magarity play an impressive and eclectic range of instruments (handyman’s saw included), providing a backdrop of extra vaudeville players while enhancing scenes with up-tempo music, sound effects and punctuation, all performed with just the right tone of playful humour.

Kudos to festival director Pitsch Leiser for having the courage to programme the work of local artists alongside that of seasoned national and international performers. The Hooligan & The Lady deserves opportunities for further development, longer seasons and future festival bookings. If audience turnout and preshow buzz is anything to go by, this show is perfect festival fare.  


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