The Hooligan and the Lady

BATS Theatre, Wellington

24/02/2011 - 27/02/2011

NZ Fringe Festival 2011

Production Details

1911. A story true.

The scourge of brutes, bullies and badmen alike; afeared by ruffians and rowdies across the land: Flossie leMar has many ways to make evildoers relent. A visionary with pronounced ideas about the role of women under attack, Flo is a force to be reckoned with. 

Chief amongst her interests is one Joseph Gardiner, pugilist, wrestler and Master of the Oriental Arts. Armed with her apocryphal handbook, The Life and Adventures of Miss Florence leMar, the World’s Famous Ju-Jitsu Girl, Flo and Joe are a vaudeville sensation. 

See her sort out a thieving fiend! Marvel at her magnificent dispatching of a dangerous desperado! Cheer her on as she quells a cannibalistic lunatic! 

A coruscating, scintillating display from the first person to teach self defence to women in Aotearoa New Zealand. This is 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 scoundrels and villains everywhere. 

The World Premier of The Hooligan and the Lady, and debut play of Lower Hutt teacher Pauleen Hayes, is brought to you by Porthole Productions and directed by Susan Dugdale.   This revival is also the centennial anniversary of the original Hooligan and the Lady being therefore, an authentic vaudeville artifact, and a master-class in self defence. 

For the silent movie filmed as part of the show:  
or flossie’s website:

Bats Theatre
Thursday 24th February – Sunday 27th February 2011
Price: $16 Full / $14 Concession / $12 Fringe Addict
Booked out! Want to go onto the waiting list? 
Tickets from BATS:;; or 04) 802 4175  

Miss Flossie LeMar:  
Ailsa Krefft
Allan Henry:  Mr Joseph Gardiner
Alex Greig:  Master Quintus Penumbra
Rachel More:  Madam Adamantine
Bailey McCormack:  Miss Fanciforia Mooncake
Patrick Keenan:  Mr Hubert Heft

Pianist: Ruth Armishaw 

Set d
esign: Rachel Kemp
Lighting design: Morgan Whitfield
Costumier: Janet Dunn 

Taking the hard knocks to tell our rough and tumble stories

Review by Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] 01st Mar 2011

The Hooligan and the Lady is a play that not only popularizes a fascinating and largely unknown piece of our history but it also has the makings of a popular success. I write “has the makings” because, while the production at Bats is thoroughly enjoyable, it has too much repetition.

Florence Gardiner grew up in New Zealand in the 1890s and became a formidable sportswoman. By 1913 she had married a professional wrestler who taught her the art of jujitsu. Together they toured Australasia on the variety stage. ‘Miss Flossie Le Mar’ demonstrated and preached the skills of self-defence for women, using her husband Joe as her attacker.

Pauleen Hayes has set her play in a music hall with a misogynist for a master of ceremonies (Alex Greig) who can’t stand Flo’s message but can stand the business she brings in. Also reflecting turn-of-last-century attitudes towards women are a fortune teller (Rachel More in grand form), an ingénue named Fanciforia Mooncake (Bailey McCormack), and strong man Hubert Heft (Patrick Keenan). 

Joe is played by Allan Henry who somehow makes one laugh each time Joe is thrown about the stage like a rag doll. One feels he belongs to the Keystone Cops. Ailsa Krefft, while lacking the necessary charisma, is amusing in showing Flo’s determination to get on a soap box at every opportunity but the role would be funnier if one felt that Flo was throwing Joe around rather than Joe throwing himself. However, it deserves a return season.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.  


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Strong social message embedded within a rollicking good entertainment

Review by John Smythe 25th Feb 2011

Plucked from a century of obscurity, the story of Flossie LeMar – a formidable force to be reckoned with – is splendidly evoked in The Hooligan and the Lady, named for the vaudeville act she and show-biz pugilist Joe Gardiner, her husband-to-be, brought to Australasian stages in the 1910s.

We have playwright Pauleen Hayes (also a school teacher and former self-defence instructor) to thank for a decade’s dedication in researching, writing, revising and producing this highly entertaining – and instructive – celebration of a ‘women’s right to move through the world unmolested’ pioneer.

The Life and Adventures of Miss Florence LeMar, the World’s Famous Ju-Jitsu Girl by Joe Gardiner and Florence LeMar (privately published by the authors in Wellington, 1913) is the starting point. The other characters who bring it to theatrical life are extremely well conceived and crafted to manifest the prevailing attitudes and gender roles of Edwardian times while provoking us to consider how little has changed.

Impresario Quintus Penumbra, played with black-bearded bravura by Alex Greig, has a very limited view of a woman’s place but knows a good ‘novelty act’ when he sees one. His tussle between principles – or lack of them – and profits captures the essence of the misogynist business man.  

Rachel More’s wonderfully phoney fortune teller, Madam Adamantine, represents the hard-line conservative who cannot abide women who attempt to rise above their class let alone ‘betray’ their femininity – and yet …

As the flimsy little ingénue Fanciforia Mooncake (I love these names!), Bailey McCormack epitomises the vulnerable single girl trying to stand upright on a deck were a man holds all the cards. And Patrick Keenan’s benign strongman Hubert Heft is a powerful presence.

Central to the whole conceit, of course, are Flossie and Joe.

Ailsa Kreft is determinedly un-theatrical in characterising Florence and because she looks decidedly un-athletic her adeptness at ju-jitsu is a revelation. Her focus on Flo’s purpose and determination largely transcends the odd shortcoming in vocal projection.

Allan Henry is brilliant as Joseph, vacillating between wanting to control and wanting to be part of a successful enterprise. His physical enactments of a range of vile predators are simultaneously fearsome and comical, and his prowess in this form of stage combat is worth the price of admission alone.

Director Susan Dugdale keeps the action moving along, abetted by Ruth Armishaw’s silent movie-style piano accompaniment – which the actors have to be more aware of and project above at times. And play to the back row, please, not the front row just because you can see them better. (As any vaudevillian will tell you, when you play to the back everyone in between feels included.) 

Along with the strong social message embedded within a rollicking good entertainment, there is some apt commentary on theatrical priorities and notions of what the punters can stand, as when Florence is blocked from mounting a soapbox to deliver her polemical speech.

Congratulations to all who have worked so well to rehabilitate Flossie LeMar and her message into our consciousness – and thank you, too, for rehabilitating the adjective condign: (of a punishment etc) fitting; well deserved.

Given the short Bats season is sold out, we can only hope it achieves a well-deserved return.
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News. 


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