Circa One, Circa Theatre, 1 Taranaki St, Waterfront, Wellington

07/09/2019 - 05/10/2019

Production Details

Women in the Man-Cave!

Five unhappy people in a shed full of tools. What could possibly go wrong?

★ ★ ★ ★ “A damn good play. Very funny”Roger Hall

Join Maggie Taylor as she guides you through basic carpentry skills and chisels away at the stereotype that has kept women out of the tool box for so long.”

So reads the flyer for The Pink Hammer Workshop, but when four strangers turn up for their first lesson, they soon discover their tutor has disappeared – along with their pre-paid fees. No one is pleased, least of all Maggie’s husband, who knows nothing about the course and even less about GirlPower. For him, empowerment is something you plug into a wall socket.

“I directed the very first production of The Pink Hammer in Palmerston North in 2015” says Director Conrad Newport “and the audiences loved it! Michele has created a bloody good yarn told by delightful and lovable characters. This cheeky play has been seen all around the country so I am thrilled to present it for the first time in a Wellington professional theatre with an amazing cast in a sparkling new production.”

Playwright Michele Amas decided to write a commercially viable full-length play that not only had a strong and engaging storyline but a play that concentrated on the female characters. With The Pink Hammer, she has realised a wonderfully funny and incredibly poignant story of a group of women trying to better themselves and, in the process, creating friendships in a world where the traditional male is always considered the alpha. Michele died in 2016 and this season is dedicated to her.

★ ★ ★ ★ “… a lot of good laughs, grins and smiles”THEATREVIEW

★ ★ ★ ★ “If you’re looking for a great night out, The Pink Hammer hits the nail on the head”THEATREVIEW

7 September – 5 October 2019
Tues – Thurs 6.30pm | Fri – Sat 8pm | Sun 4pm
$30 Specials: Fri 6 September 8pm and Sun 8 September 4pm
Tickets: $25 – $52
Early bird bookings available from 5th July

Ginette McDonald
Bronwyn Turei, Anne Chamberlain, Harriet Prebble and Alex Greig

Director Conrad Newport
Set Design & Costumes Daniel Williams
Lighting Design Tony Black

Theatre ,

Ebullient and affecting

Review by Carla Amos 11th Sep 2019

Life, love, and longevity are a constant work in progress so it was fitting that this cheeky comedy/drama was set solely in a workshop (aka the Man Cave).  

Four quite different women have signed up for The Pink Hammer, a course in basic woodwork skills with Johnsonville carpenter Maggie Taylor. 

There’s timorous Louise (show-stealing Anne Chamberlain), haughty Helen from Ohariu Valley (Ginette McDonald), Irish siren Siobhan (Harriet Prebble), and agitator-extraordinaire Annabel (Bronwyn Turei). [More


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Resoundingly hits the mark

Review by John Smythe 08th Sep 2019

The multi-talented Michele Amas made a huge contribution to Circa Theatre, memorably performing in 29 plays, directing two plays and writing a pantomime. Along with her other extensive credits in theatre, film, television and radio, she was also a published poet and wrote a children’s play as well as this excellent adult play before her untimely death from cancer on Boxing Day 2016.

The Pink Hammer premiered at Centrepoint Theatre in November 2014, directed by Conrad Newport. Two years later Tadpole Productions staged it at Auckland’s Pumphouse Theatre, directed by Janice Finn. And Khandallah Arts Theatre secured the amateur rights to produce it in Wellington, in July last year.

Yet only now, at long last – as another production simultaneously opens at the Court Theatre in Christchurch, directed by Anthea Williams – has Circa got a grip on this gem of a play with a splendid new production directed once more by Newport, reunited with his original set and costume designer, Daniel Williams.

The blueprint for insightful social comedy is clearly laid out: a disparate group of women, unknown to each other (except this is NZ so there is but one degree of separation in at least two cases) are attracted to a woodwork course believing it will be run by Maggie Taylor in her husband’s workshop. But Maggie has gone AWOL and her unwitting husband, Woody, is lumbered with them, to everyone’s mutual dismay.

There is plenty of detail for us to ponder pre-show in Williams’ double garage-sized workshop set, located in Johnsonville for this production. It is neatly ordered where it should be, given Woody is a professional carpenter, yet it is obviously a lived and worked-in space. A ‘man-cave’ corner contains just one arm chair, an old TV and a beer fridge.

The lack of opportunity for everyone to sit while they chat, banter, confront, converse and wield the odd tool, keeps the ensuing action agreeably lively. And Tony Black’s lighting design, ranging from a soft bleed from an outside streetlamp to blazing brightness from Woody’s working lights, plus the auto-sensor illumination between the shed and house, offers both variety and authenticity.

All five actors claim their roles so totally my partner and I leave opening night unable to imagine others in them. Perusing the casts of the above-mentioned productions, however, proves Amas was well aware of the nationwide wealth and range of excellent women actors waiting in the proverbial wings for plays requiring more Fs than Ms. As a writer she also understood how profoundly pathos enriches comedy.

Insecure, timid, nervous yet questing Louise, apparently lacking in worldly experience, is the first to arrive at the appointed time and place. That we ache for her even as we laugh at her awkwardness and gaffes is testament to Anne Chamberlain’s performance, teetering on the brink of caricature but never tipping over. A trained but non-practising nurse, Louise has looked after her mother, now in care, and has signed up to the course for practical reasons. As with everyone, there is more to her than meets the eye at first, and the surprises she pulls are simultaneously entertaining and poignant.

Conversely self-sufficient, apparently confident and not one for small-talk or other womanly virtues like ‘bringing a plate’, is Ginette McDonald’s exquisitely rendered Ohariu Valley horse-breeder, Helen. Her reason for being here offers the first insight to her immediate circumstances and her slowly revealed backstory deepens our understanding and compassion.

Bursting with energy and arriving on her bicycle is the not-so-innocent-abroad young Irish woman, Siobhan: a breath of fresh air, as played by Harriet Prebble. Intriguingly her reason for coming to the workshop is simultaneously generous and questionable, requiring us to temper our enjoyment of her saucy repartee and lively chit-chat – not to mention her gorgeous singing – with checks of our own moral compasses. Her apparently self-centred free spirit comes up for reappraisal by herself as well as us.

These are the women Woody discovers in his sacrosanct space and Alex Greig makes it very clear he is in no mood for company, especially with women. But before Woody can evict them the extremely assertive Annabel, a therapeutic counsellor, powerfully nailed by Bronwyn Turei, marches in, sums him up with instant judgement, and confronts him on gender as well as contractual grounds. She too will have her ultra-polished veneer cracked open as the drama unfolds.

It is Helen who has the awareness and wit to bring Woody round to conducting the course, for which they have each paid Maggie $400. Along with the unseen Maggie, the wider world is peopled by Louise’s mother, late father and care-giver; Helen’s two sons, now overseas; Siobhan’s employer, father and second wife; Annabel’s husband and son. All play significant parts in Amas’s astutely structured play – as does the Melbourne Cup.

Most of the comedy is character-based, there is some good ‘business’ with props and it gets very situational, verging on farce, at one point. But the playwright’s long game is to draw us deeper into the lives of these four women and one man – whom we have doubtless judged and evaluated, just as they have each other – and make us care about them, just as they do over the weeks traversed by the play.

The Pink Hammer resoundingly hits the mark as a comedy with pathos that brings flawed and very real characters together for the mutual benefit of all: themselves, each other and us. What a tragedy it is that Michele Amas was not able to pursue her playwriting vocation. Had she done so I’m guessing she’d have been compared to the UK’s Alan Ayckbourn and joined the likes of Roger Hall and Dave Armstrong as another of New Zealand theatre’s highly popular social commentators – albeit with a refreshingly female perspective.


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