The Court Theatre, Bernard Street, Addington, Christchurch

07/09/2019 - 05/10/2019

Production Details


After directing work around the world, Churchill Fellow Anthea Williams is returning to Christchurch for her Court Theatre debut in homegrown comedy, The Pink Hammer.

“The Court is the company that made me realise I wanted to be a director,” says Williams, talking about her decision to travel across the ditch for this production. “I’ve always wanted to make theatre for my community, and as much as I now live overseas, I still call Christchurch home.”

Williams, now based in Sydney, is back in Ōtautahifor The Pink Hammer; a Kiwi comedy about five misfits who come together for an ‘empowering’ women’s carpentry course that goes hilariously awry…

“Audiences can expect brilliant performances, new friendships, some terrible – and some fantastic! – carpentry and, of course, lots of laughs. The Pink Hammer is a brilliant play about five wonderful, if lost, people.”

In this heart-warming play, Annabel, Helen, Louise and Siobhan turn up to a workshop in Palmerston North, expecting to learn woodworking skills from a pioneering, female furniture maker… but instead find Woody, an out-of-work builder – and their new teacher.

“This will be an actor-centred production. We have a brilliant cast and it’s my job to make them shine,” explains Williams.  

Court favourites Kathleen Burns (Steel Magnolias); Amy Straker (In the Next Room, or the vibrator play); Eilish Moran (Mum’s Choir) and Lynda Milligan (Roger Hall’s Easy Money) will be playing the women taking over the workshop, outnumbering Tom Eason (Astroman) as Woody, their reluctant teacher.  

“I’ve been watching Eilish and Lynda at The Court for years, so it was brilliant to be able to offer them roles. I’ve only seen Amy and Kathleen on stage once and twice respectively, but I was sure of their talent immediately. Tom is new to me, but after seeing work online and reading about him, I was sure he was the right Woody for our team – a Christchurch resident who’s on the rise,” says Williams.

Talking about the appeal of the play, The Court’s Artistic Director Ross Gumbley says, “The Pink Hammer is Kiwi comedy at its best. It’s quirky as all hell; it’s very funny; it provides phenomenally strong roles for four women – and one guy! – but more than anything else, these are recognisable New Zealanders.”

Written in 2014 by the late playwright, poet and actress Michele Amas, The Pink Hammer team are overjoyed to be producing a new version of her story that will continue Amas’ theatrical legacy and bring laughter to Cantabrian audiences.

“Michele wrote a beautiful play about five people trying to find their best selves,” explains Williams. “That’s always relevant. The audience will be crying with laughter – then getting out their tissues.”

The Pink Hammer
The Court Theatre’s mainstage, Christchurch
Show Sponsor: Caxton
7 September – 5 October 2019
Ticket Prices
Adult:  $56 – $64
Senior (65+):  $49 – $57
Child (under 18):  $27 – $30
Group (6+):  $49 – $57
Supporter:  $47 – $54
30 Below:  $30
Show Times
Monday & Thursday:  6:30pm
Tue/Wed/Fri/Sat:  7:30pm
Forum:  6:30pm Monday 9 September
Matinee:  2:00pm Saturday 21 September
Bookings: phone 03 963 0870 or visit  

Siobhan:  Kathleen Burns 
Annabel:  Amy Straker
Louise:  Eilish Moran
Helen:  Lynda Milligan
Woody:  Tom Eason

Director:  Anthea Williams
Set Designer:  Harold Moot
Costume Designer:  Stella Gardner
Lighting Designer:  Giles Tanner
Sound Designer & Operator:  Matt Short
Stage Manager – Rehearsals:  Scott Leighton
Stage Manager – Season:  Mandy Perry

Theatre , Comedy ,

Unsubtle mix of onstage comedy and offstage drama

Review by Lindsay Clark 08th Sep 2019

A large ‘man cave’ of a workshop, complete with refrigerator for the beer, television set for the cricket and girlie calendar for the ogling, may seem an unlikely setting for a comedy delving into women’s perspectives on life and of course relationships. It is however, the venue intended for a series of empowering workshops on DIY tools, though it becomes something quite different in the course of the play.

Maggie, who arranged the pre-paid sessions, has overnight left Woody, her carpenter husband

Maggie, who was to have run the pre-paid sessions, is a no-show and Woody, her carpenter husband, is forced to provide impromptu instruction. Understanding gained by both learners and instructor reaches way beyond how to manage a few tools. 

For director Anthea Williams, the ‘transformative power of friendship’ is clear as four very different female characters and their reluctant stand-in tutor inch their way to self-awareness, with technical skills pretty much a sideline. They do, though, provide a context for predictable comic situations, at least in the early part of the doings, where one by one we meet the women whose developing stories are the real meat of the play, together that of with their impromptu host. 

An anxious and eager nurturing Louise is first on the scene, complete with muffins. Eilish Moran plays the role with jumpy physicality, contrasting strongly with next to enter, seemingly asssured Helen, owner of a racehorse stud and stables. Lynda Milligan has presence and authority to spare as she takes charge of the unravelling situation.

Breezing in on a bicycle, Irish adventurer and traveller Siobhan, played by versatile Kathleen Burns, keeps the laughs coming with feckless abandon, before counsellor Annabel, briskly played by Amy Straker, arrives with all the righteous conviction of her training in psychoanalysis. Tom Eason’s Woody is in turn irate and bemused as he resigns himself to the next few weeks.

Various projects the women hope to complete in the course of the evening workshops offer further clues to their personalities and circumstances. Indeed, everything is underlined for us in this production, from individual costumes (designed by Stella Gardner) to physical techniques used by the cast. Subtlety is not on the menu.

So far so good, as a strong cast deals purposefully with an entertaining if wordy script, filling frequent moments – when conversation between a couple of them leaves the rest – devising enough motivation to keep things rolling along. We are in cartoon mode and quite happy to be there.  Harold Moot’s set, lighting from Giles Tanner and sound from Matt Short contribute all that could be asked of them.

Once the group settles as a unit and Woody’s total predicament becomes clear, the tensions which sparked the fun are reduced and, for me, impetus and enjoyment falter. Back stories for each character mostly come to us through heart to heart conversations where circumstances and concerns are reported, so that direct action comes but rarely and the dire situations in the offstage world are established by dialogue or telling crashes.

Some big scenes towards the end of the play do revive my interest, especially the wacky prize giving ceremony, which in turn leads to an unexpected, though in hindsight predictable, ending.

It is fair to record that the audience responded warmly to this unsubtle mix on opening night as has been the case in seasons elsewhere.


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