The Rodwell Monologues

BATS Theatre, Wellington

28/02/2009 - 07/03/2009

Production Details


Before the days of the Hens’ Teeth Comedy group that started in the late eighties, women comedians were literally scarce on the ground.  The group – founded by Director, Kate JasonSmith – were galvinised into creating what comedienne Michele A’Court refers to as "character comedy" sketches, by the late Sally Rodwell of Red Mole Theatre who conducted a series of workshops to encourage women to devise and develop their comedic alter egos.

Expect the unexpected, when two of Rodwell’s own characters are given fresh interpretations by a group of well-known performers in the forthcoming Fringe show – The Rodwell Monologues – at Bats Theatre, late February to early March.  Actresses Carmel McGlone, Chelsea Preston Crayford and Vanessa Stacey, dancers Kilda Northcott and Lyne Pringle and musician Michelle Scullion are putting their personal slant on Rodwell’s characters, Rhonda Gonne and Stella Strange – two of the many creations Rodwell devised in reaction to what she called the "selfish 90s".

Rhonda Gonne:  "A former actor fallen on hard times, some say she’s all washed up.  Unstoppable, a bundle of indignation, a nosy parker and opponent of the new privatised business world, Rhonda represents the underclass".

Stella Strange:  "She disliked Family, had miserable childhood memories and hated jandals, pavlova and holidays at the beach.  She found her identity by making money"


Rodwell’s characters address the audience directly – so are not too far removed from contemporary stand-up comedy.  But hers are idiosyncratic creatures – she once described how she created their physicality first "from the feet up" – starting by exploring the character’s energy, voice and carriage – so that the dialogue became "authentic".  

The highly satirical monologues are taken from Rodwell’s book which she wrote with the late Alan Brunton – Gonne Strange Charity, published by Bumper Books in 2000.

The Rodwell Monologues28 February-7 March
Bats Theatre, 1 Kent Terrace, phone 802 4175, email  

Carmel McGlone, Kilda Northcott, Chelsie Preston Crayford, Lyne Pringle, Michelle Scullion and Vanessa Stacey.

Janet Dunn, Brian King, Lisa Maule, Madeline McNamara and Jenny Stevenson

Romping, roaring aplomb

Review by Jennifer Shennan 04th Mar 2009

Sally Rodwell, of Red Mole Theatre Company, developed a series of characters through written and performed monologues from the seeds of ‘Clown’ work first introduced to New Zealand by Francis Batten & Theatre Action in early 1970s.

"Clown as comic fool" was not the notion, but the foibles, fears, frustrations and ironies of life caught in close encounters within the family, or with the next door neighbour or the supermarket check-out girl gave plenty of scope for anti-heroic characters.

Over many years Sally exploited the concept to the max and would have been thrilled by the romping, roaring aplomb with which these six actors revisit her characters in the current season at Bats. They enter in a mess of business, then drape themselves, chorus fashion, around the sides of the stage.

First up is Carmel McGlone, whose metamorphosis as the guileless Stella Strange is a consummate triumph of patter of "Come-on-home-and-meet-Phil – that’s-Dad". Her every gesture, word and blink is played so convincingly that you later look to the printed programme to read about Stella not Carmel.

Music slips in on the off-beat and wonderful sound effects are crooned and bopped from the cast, with return refrains guided throughout the show with much spirit by singer/composer Michelle Scullion.

Kilda Northcott playing Rhonda Gonne enters through a wild dance and then settles to profile the determined resident of Berhampore. Her impeccable sense of timing and the nonchalance with which surreal pronouncements are posed and delivered is mesmerizing.

Chelsie Preston Crayford, in a duo with Chewing Gum, profiles another facet of Stella-on-holiday-with-the-family-then-oh-dear-leaving-home, and her flawless performance looks as good as it sounds.

Lyne Pringle, always a vibrant stage presence, carries great conviction as Rhonda and would not easily be persuaded to change her ways.

Vanessa Stacey brings a rich voice to the Rhonda character and has the acumen of a seasoned actor in delivering a preposterous scenario.

Janet Dunn has the whacky dress-ups just right, and with Madeline McNamara as ‘Outside Eye’ there’s nothing to wish different in this picaresque hour. It doesn’t get much better than this, so you’ll want Bats’ box office – ph. 802 4175.


John Smythe March 4th, 2009

What a combo! Rodwell’s words are so witty - and potent! Everyone steps out and up to the mark: actors sing; dancers act; musicians perform in role; actors play keys … The Rodwell Monologues is a gift you owe yourselves and each other.

If you’re coming down from the Fringe, ease down with this show. If you missed too much of the Fringe, make up for it with this one. What a shame it opened too late to be considered for the Awards or the Pick of the Fringe. It deserves a very big audience!

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