FatG: Fringe at the Gryphon, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington

28/02/2023 - 01/03/2023

New Athenaeum Theatre, 24 The Octagon, Dunedin

23/03/2023 - 25/03/2023

NZ Fringe Festival 2023

Dunedin Fringe Festival 2023

Production Details

Concept - Elsa Couvreur


‘All of our collaborators are currently busy. Please wait, thank you’.

Have you ever waited on the phone for too long, with a muzak playing on a loop and an irritating robotic voice telling you endlessly that your request is being processed?
Yes, you have… And so does the protagonist of solo-show ‘The Sensemaker’ until she is gradually stretched beyond her limits.

With its razor-sharp sense of humour and its unclassifiable genre, multi-award winning ‘The Sensemaker’ features a dystopian battle between a woman and an answering machine.


Swiss-based collective Woman’s Move is co-directed by Iona D’Annunzio and Elsa Couvreur. A blend of physical theatre and contemporary dance, the company’s catchy work use irony and humor as tools to communicate on various societal issues, and have been warmly received by press and audiences alike around the world :

‘Confident, fast, glorious to watch’ ★★★★ THE SCOTSMAN, ‘Wonderfully accurate … Done with a smile and a sense of fun that you cannot help but to fall for’, ★★★★★ SEEING DANCE, A delightful hour … I smiled for hours afterwards’ – DANCING TIMES, ‘Exceedingly current, layering fun and shimmer’ – FEST MAG, ‘If you get a chance to see this or anything by the collective, seize it with both hands. If anything proves that Europe is worth more than endless Brexit wrangling, this does.’ ★★★★★ THE PEG REVIEW

The company’s work has been presented in Switzerland (Festival Electron 2014, Fête de la Danse, National Selection – 2015, 2017, 2018 & 2019, Fête de la Musique – 2014, 2015, 2017, 2018 & 2019, Festival Antigel – 2014, 2015 & 2018, Point Favre Theatre, etc.) and abroad (Best of BE selection 2020, Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2018 & 2019, Istanbul Fringe Festival 2019, Gothenburg Fringe Festival 2019, Niederstätten surPrize European Theatre Competition 2019 Bolzano Italy, FinFringe 2019 Turku Finland, Voilà!Europe Festival London UK, BE Festival Birmingham 2017, FLUX 4 Platform Rotterdam 2017, Follow Up Festival London 2017, Chez Nous Marquant Laval France 2016)

For further information, take a look at our website :

‘It is a dance show in which the protagonist spends much of the time standing still. It is a piece of mime which can get very noisy indeed. It is both a dream and a nightmare’ – The Peg Review

‘One of the deftest and most provocative pieces I’ve experienced’ Outstanding Show – FRINGE REVIEW 2019

‘An astonishing, disturbing shapeshifting sliver of genius’ Outstanding Show – FRINGE REVIEW 2021

‘A journey from darkly comic to deeply discomfiting’ ★★★★★ FRINGE BISCUIT

‘Stars an impressive and athletic Elsa Couvreur’ – PLAYS TO SEE

★★★★  THE SCOTSMAN, ‘An ideal metaphor for our interconnected world’  ★★★★  THE STAGE, ‘Daring and witty to boot’ ★★★★ A YOUNGER THEATRE, A remarkable solo performance’ ★★★★ SEEING DANCE, ‘Playfully subversive’ ★★★★ BRITISH THEATRE GUIDE, ‘Insidiously Kafka-esque’ ★★★★ EDFEST MAGAZINE, ★★★★ FRINGE GURU, ★★★★ EDINBURGH 49+3, ★★★★ EVERYTHING THEATRE, ‘An episode of ‘Black Mirror’ live on stage.’ ★★★★★ WEST END PENGUINS


FringeReview Award for Outstanding Theatre, Edinburgh 2019
Buzz Award Gothenburg Fringe 2019
STOFF Award, Category Theatre and Spoken Words, Stockholm 2019
Performance Award Fisico Festival Alba, 2020

Colchester Fringe Festival, Volunteer’s Pick Award Winner, 2022

Colchester Fringe Festival, Pick of the Fringe Award Winner, 2022

FatG at Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington
Tuesday 28 February & Wednesday 1 March 2023

Dunedin Fringe Festival 2023


Content forecast: Emotional Abuse

Performance - Elsa Couvreur

Physical , Dance , Dance-theatre ,

1 hr

Unique, complex, enigmatic - don't miss it

Review by Helen Watson White 24th Mar 2023

Don’t miss this one! After multiple performances internationally and several in New Zealand, the reputation of The Sensemaker has preceded it, so it has a lot to live up to, and it does not disappoint. 

                 Woman’s Move is a contemporary dance company, its Swiss-based collective co-directed by Iona D’Annunzio and Elsa Couvreur. It is Couvreur who in 2017-18 conceived The Sensemaker and who directs and performs her own striking solo show, originally with the French title Apres le bip Sonore(After the beep sounds).

                 It is not clear at first that this is a dance work, for the actor enters in business clothes, walking very tall and straight and sitting primly, not moving a muscle. An old-style telephone rings, asserting itself as a second actor in what ensues as a battle of wits between human and machine. When the actor doesn’t speak into the phone, doesn’t leave a message when asked (‘After the beep’), she is bombarded with a random series of voices in different accents: a comic babble of unrelated snippets with no coherent thread.      

                 The subject makes no attempt to ‘answer’ the phone, but stays to listen to the recorded message in a loop with endless musak repeating – for much of the time (wonderfully ironic) Beethoven’s Ode to Joy banged out on a cheap keyboard. Although one anticipates, on the basis of collective experience, that the repetitive music and messages will drive the person to boredom or worse – irritation, teeth-chomping exasperation, anger perhaps – that doesn’t happen. It can’t, because that would make for a very short dance/play.

                 The title After the beep sounds would have indicated this simpler scenario, where a person wanting to speak with a human keeps getting fobbed off and either gives up or screams at the thing. That is not what we’ve got. It seems the main agent in the piece is not the woman on the receiving end, but the disembodied voice of an answerphone giving her a reference number for her ‘request’ and telling her to do stuff.  Quite a lot of stuff. This instructive mode becomes more and more domineering, until you’d think she would give up and leave. She doesn’t.

                 Some of the text is very funny, an absurdist satire on interview techniques: the crazy and irrelevant questions you get asked, especially if you are a woman. The automated Englishwoman seems to be investigating the subject’s ‘skills’ and aptitude for life itself – or a non-existent job. The toneless, disjointed voice typifies the dehumanization of our current processes in telecoms – and much else. There is something in this of Orwell’s 1984. There are also echoes of the casting couch for this woman who has to bare all to get where she wants to go. Some of the commands have the character of insult or assault – not funny at all.

                 The woman, however, is equal to all this. In a climactic series, after the machine has made its instructions and endorsed her responses many times over, it launches into a set of increasingly bizarre commands with no pauses between them. She stands, staring into space… and then, a little time later executes every single one of the commands, contorting her body in a machine-like way, obedient to the letter. She gets her own back! After this, a subversive comedy comes increasingly to the fore.

                 The liberation of the body into dance also happens gradually. While performing all the exercises she’s supposed to, the woman takes it away at many points; flying off into the wings, she has to be reminded to move to the centre of the room so she can continue to be filmed. The first twitchings of muscles were so slight, you had to notice them – the subtlest sideways nudges keeping time with the rhythm in Ode to Joy, more fluid movements evolving with other pop music on the swell-chosen soundtrack.

                 This unique work may be complex and enigmatic (some may say chaotic), but its leading agent, the dancer, is not dismayed. Finally, after the most tortuous mental and bodily progression, she earns the title of Sensemaker, which is more than any machine can do.


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Fascinatingly unpredictable - a one in a thousand performance

Review by Margaret Austin 02nd Mar 2023

Theatre reviewers should reserve certain adjectives for the rare cases when they are fully justified. Such a case is The Sensemaker, taking the stage at the Gryphon. Extraordinary in its concept, remarkable for its courage and almost painfully relevant, I cannot praise this piece of theatre highly enough.

It’s described in the Fringe brochure as unclassifiable, further as a dystopian battle between a woman and an answering machine. I ask a guy behind me what drew him to the show. “I’ve been on hold for a week,” he replies. He means telephonically speaking. “Coming to this show is a kind of catharsis.”

Arguably perhaps, The Sensemaker is a catharsis for its creator and performer, Elsa Couvreur, who hails from Switzerland. She enters quietly from stage left, dressed smartly though conservatively. On stage right is a telephone – the old-fashioned kind. These are our only two players. That the ensuing dialogue should be so captivating is a credit to them both.

When she doesn’t pick up the phone, she gets to hear the message. It’s predictably mechanical and dehumanised. She gets given a number – a serial number? – and from then on is referred to by it. This is physical theatre, so we don’t get to hear the onstage performer’s voice, but that imbalance is more than compensated for by the unrelenting nature of the messages she and we are subjected to. There’s music while she waits of course, and the audience is treated to an increasingly frenzied dance while the phone pounds out a song about love and understanding.

What’s fascinating about this performance is that we don’t know where it’s headed. Why is our woman so willing to do what the machine tells her to do, while clearly becoming demented by it? We think we know, and then another mechanical instruction sends us in another direction. Told to carry out a series of physical movements, our woman complies, even as orders become more insistent, more bizarre and more unacceptable.   

Is she really going to follow this one? The silence of the audience is palpable. We’re as concerned as we are fascinated. The denouement here is gaspingly unexpected: the chasm between bodiless dehumanising and human vulnerability never more obvious, or more alarming.  This is a one in a thousand performance. If you’re going to see only one show at the Fringe Festival, make it this one.


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