Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

19/02/2015 - 22/02/2015

Auckland Fringe 2015

Production Details


The residents of a small New Zealand town are getting their 50 minutes of fame in THE MEMORY SHELF premiering at the Auckland Fringe from 19-22 February. 

Ever been to Arohanui? It’s that town somewhere in Southland; you know, the one with the great tea rooms owned by those twin sisters. Population 250. Chances are you have driven through it en route to Dunedin without even realising.

A bustling hub until the late 80s – thanks to New Zealand’s first and only facsimile factory – Arohanui has struggled to reclaim its glory since the demand for fax machines died out. Inexplicably.  

But when your home changes from rural-hotspot to eerie no-mans-land how do you choose to remember it? Especially if you can’t leave. 

Following on from the success of STOMACH at the Basement earlier this year, The Memory Shelf tells of the time a girl arrived in town with a foggy past and the locals were confronted with their own.

Directed by Renee Lyons (Nick, Verbatim) and created and performed by Saraid Cameron (the Motherfucker with the Hat) and Amelia Reynolds, The Memory Shelf plays at the Basement Theatre February 19 – 22.

Praise for STOMACH:

“One of the best produced, best acted, best designed, funniest and most moving shows of 2014 . . . Everything about STOMACH is stunning.”Lexie Matheson, Theatreview

“Writers and performers Amelia Reynolds and Saraid Cameron have created a script with incredibly natural dialogue, and, almost more importantly in today’s theatre, pop culture references that roll off the tongue with great easeMatt Baker, Theatre Scenes

The Memory Shelf plays   
Dates:  19 – 22 February, 7pm
Venue:  The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland
Tickets:  $15 – $18
Bookings: // 0508 iTICKET (484-253)

Auckland Fringe 2015 is an open access arts festival where anything can happen. It provides a platform for practitioners and audiences to unite in the creation of form forward experiences which are championed in an ecology of artistic freedom. The 2015 programme will see work happening all over the show, pushing the boundaries of performance Auckland wide from February 11 to March 1.

Theatre ,

Tearoom Reflections

Review by Amanda Leo 21st Feb 2015

Sitting at just 45 minutes, The Memory Shelf has all the potential for a great, short fringe piece whose message goes a little deeper than for just pure entertainment. Written and performed by duo Amelia Reynolds and Saraid Cameron with direction by Renee Lyons, it focuses on the happenings in a tearoom in small-town Arohanui that is famous for its delicious lamingtons.

The first image is of the well-known Edmond’s Baking Power (in giant tin can form) being lowered from the ceiling onto the stage. Such iconic cultural kiwi references colour some of the characters and delights and entertains. Although the play starts with a bang with excitement from Reynold’s character Jess, the pace of the play throughout remains somewhat slow, despite the change of characters every few scenes. [More]


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Inspired writing, skillful direction, flawless performances

Review by Bronwyn Elsmore 20th Feb 2015

Remember those tins that Edmond’s Baking Powder used to come in – you know, with the trademark slogan ‘sure to rise’ and the yellow and orange sunbeam effect? The Memory Shelf opens with the intriguing sight of a giant can (think in terms of enough Baking Powder to produce a fluffy sponge for every person in New Zealand) being lowered by rope onto the stage. We find out a bit later what that’s about. Meanwhile, the can comes in handy as one of the few props used in this memorable story. 

Scene: Early hours of the morning, Arohanui. Outside the tearooms owned by sisters Toots and Mel; the birthplace of the lamington and where Jess works. The tiny southern NZ town has been Jess’s life – she’s hardly been out of it, but she once “heard great things about Gore!”

Enter another young women, hitching through and just dropped off between rides. TW (Travelling Woman for now because if she was given a name I didn’t catch it), in contrast to Jess, is world-wise. She’s travelled widely – to Belize, Nicaragua, Berlin, Paris, Pondicherry, Chicago and Waihi. Even more important, she is experienced and world-wise in other ways. Little wonder that Jess regards her with some awe.  

The casting of the two actors – or perhaps more accurately, their writing of the script around their many roles – is inspired. The two are completely believable: Saraid Cameron as TW is masterful in her actions and timing; Amelia Reynolds’ facial expressions tell us more than words could as Jess tries to deal with “the shitbag thing that happened to her”.  

Skillful direction by Renee Lyons, brings out flawless performances from both.

The two women play several parts in order to reveal more about the place and Jess’s life – particularly the fact that Uncle Brendon’s imminent return from Australia after 15 years away is great news to everyone except Jess. In a few spare lines, we learn her story, and her need for him to know that it wasn’t okay. There’s a serious issue presented here, made even more powerful by the lack of over-dramatic scenes and heavy denunciation. The subtlety in the way it is revealed is a strength.  

The running time, 40 minutes, is perfect. More exposition would have taken away from this well-crafted work. It deserves to be seen by many more people than were present on opening night.  

Oh, and that can of baking powder – it could end up anywhere. Maybe even Gore.


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