THE SHIT KID

Fringe Bar, 26-32 Allen St, Te Aro, Wellington

22/02/2022 - 26/02/2022

Emerson's Festival Theatre, 20 Princes St, Dunedin

20/03/2022 - 23/03/2022

Dunedin Fringe 2022

NZ Fringe Festival 2022

Production Details


Written and performed by Sarah Harpur
Directed by Carrie Green

Presented by Harpur's Bizarre


Sibling rivalry. Olympic ambition. Mark Todd fever-dreams. A very sexy horse. The Shit Kid is a one-person play about one mediocre person.

Sharni teaches rich kids to ride horses while her twin brother wins Olympic medals. But Sharni has a plan. She’s going to buy the sexiest horse in town and get to the Olympics herself. The only thing standing in her way is a baby, a lack of cash and a shitty temperament.

Written and performed by award-winning writer and comedian, Sarah Harpur (Kāi Tahu). Directed by award-winning, multi-talented Carrie Green (Ngāti Porou).

Come see the development season of The Shit Kid before it gallops across the Aotearoa festival circuit.

‘Harpur’s material is outstanding. It’s complex, funny, rich in great jokes but it also deepens deceptively.’ – Michael Gilchrist, Theatreview

‘Like a fresh lime juice margarita in a sea of flat beer, Harpur’s energy rises above the pack.’ – Maryanne Cathro, Theatreview

The Fringe Bar, 26-32 Allen Street, Te Aro
Tuesday 22 – Saturday 26 February 2021
6:00 pm
General Admission $12.00
Concession $10.00
Fringe Addict $10.00
Ticket + $5 $17.00
Ticket + $10 $22.00

Dunedin Fringe 2022
Emerson’s Festival Theatre, 20 Princes St Dunedin
Sunday 20 – Wednesday 23 March 2022
6pm
$10.00 – $15.00


R16 – A bit sweary



Theatre , Comedy , Solo ,


1 hr

Sharni’s tale recreated with a wonderfully variegated physicality and fluent vocal delivery

Review by John Smythe 17th Sep 2022

If you missed the Fringe Bar season in February, the return of Sarah Harpur’s The Shit Kid, directed by Carrie Green, is on once more tonight at 9pm and highly recommended. The clever title is just a taste of the richly humorous blend of passion, pettiness, pain and pathos that pervades Sharni Boyle’s quest to escape her mediocre life.

Her twin brother Nigel is a gold medal Olympic rower. She should be shining equally as a world-class equestrian. Instead she’s selling Pony Poo for $2 a bag and coaching reluctant Lucia Montgomery on Sir Humperdinck. It’s Sharni’s quest to purchase Sir Humperdinck that gives this play its narrative spine. As for the surprising reveal of Sir H’s conception and pedigree, not to mention Lucia’s …

The exceptional quality of the dramatic structure and overall script is doubtless down to Sarah Harpur’s participation in Ken Duncam’s IIML Scriptwriting class of 2017 (acknowledged in the digital programme).

Sharni’s vexed relationships with Nigel, herself and the more moneyed Montgomery clan are offset by her Mark Todd fever dreams. All this plays out amid a fertile mix of rural characters and situations we can almost smell: a potent blend of body odour, perfume and manure. Then there’s the trip to the Gold Coast 15 years ago … Things everyone knows in this little town come as a shock to us.

From her entrance on a hobby horse, beautifully rendered to display true talent in the saddle, through the riveting sharing of her underdog status and flawed temperament culminating in her ‘angry shower’, to the gut-wrenching twist that almost subverts the happy ending, Harpur recreates Sharni’s tale with a wonderfully variegated physicality and fluent vocal delivery. Her assured performance belies the hard work she and Carrie Green must have put in to achieve this level of excellence.

The Shit Kid is a stayer I recommend you put your money on when she starts at a meet near you.
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A cheerful, cheeky show with a distinctly Kiwi flavour

Review by Terry MacTavish 21st Mar 2022

To my mind, right up there with our noble front-line health workers, the heroes of the current horrid omicron spike are Fringe Director Gareth McMillan and his assistants, many of them volunteers, who are battling valiantly on behalf of the venturesome artists and the thirsty Dunedin public. Tackling what must be an organisational nightmare with ingenuity and grace, they have actually wrangled a jolly decent Festival. Sadly, the Festival Club, named for long-time sponsor Emerson’s, must be dry this year, but thanks to the ebullient hospitality of the lovely Fringe team, the atmosphere in the venue is almost as bubbly as in past years.   

I am more than a little apprehensive, though, as I check out the simple set: a couple of wooden crates, with black plastic bags boldly labelled ‘Pony Poo’. If only I were as knowledgeable about horses as I am about Shakespeare! Fortunately, my Dead Best Friend, Diana-Marie, trainer of jockeys and first woman president of a Racing Club, taught me more than I had realised about the mysteries of horse-breeding.  

This proves immensely useful when Sarah Harpur, in shorts, black singlet, and messy hair, as horse-mad Sharni, gallops onto the small stage astride a hobby horse, to the accompaniment of a mock racing commentary, and immediately has us wrestling with the complexities of bloodlines and studs, both equine and human.  

The Shit Kid may not be the most attractive of titles, but it works on a couple of levels – firstly Sharni is saving for a very special purpose by selling horse shit, marketed with more appeal as ‘Pony Poo’, but secondly, from the moment of her birth, in size and gender a grievous disappointment to her conventional parents and totally outclassed by her twin brother, she has been ‘the shit kid’. 

The one thing she is good at is riding, and horses are her passion. More specifically, her fierce determination to breed and then retain, by fair means or foul, the perfect mount: Sir Humperdink, out of wicked White Satin/Satan by…whoops, no spoilers! (But do please watch for an impressively executed horse sex scene!) 

Sharni spills her guts with casual and good-humoured speed. She sees herself as mediocre, though that description doesn’t seem quite apt – she is simply a failure, at least in the eyes of her family and community. We quickly learn she has given birth, been married, birthed again, and divorced, leaving her with issues aplenty. But what drives her is the desperate, unpretty rivalry to-the-death with brother Nigel, who is the glorious success story in the family, the international rowing champion, constantly favoured because their parents “invested where there was most potential”. 

It’s always gratifying when we feel we are seeing more than the protagonist does, and it becomes clear that Nigel must have had some pretty tough struggles of his own, but Sharni is oblivious to anyone’s problems but her own. Despite her shrewd analysis of equine bloodlines and heritage she does not see the patterns being recreated in her own parenting. She is unable to mention her elder child and riding pupil, Lucia, without a sneer, and relays one poignant cry from Lucia with seeming indifference. 

Her life is governed by the intense, physically aggressive rivalry with her sibling. This competitiveness extends to wealthy and elitist horse-owners the neighbouring Montgomerys, who helpfully patronise Nigel, but despise Sharni. It seems there is more class consciousness in New Zealand than we care to recognise.  

There is much to amuse in Sharni’s devious scheme to outwit the snobbish Montgomerys and acquire the perfect horse (prompted by her firm belief that “all the best horses must be half bastard”), and the stakes are high when you know that foals sired by greats like Sir Tristram sell for tens of thousands, but I am drawn to the theme of parental responsibilities. 

Thanks to my dear deceased BF, who worked also with horse riding for disabled kids, I do get the joyful exhilaration the disempowered can experience when in control of such a powerful and beautiful animal, I get the love. I don’t get the rejection of one’s own foals, the lack of empathy, the inability to see a pattern being repeated in the next generation. 

Coincidentally good old Coro St is currently running a sensitive plotline about a damaged woman who really, really, should not be a mother.  Witnessing her anguish is gut-wrenching, so how is it that Sarah Harpur’s script, while excruciatingly honest, has the audience rocking with laughter? 

Well, for a start, Sharni’s irresponsible lack of maternal feeling truly is as funny as it is awful – I love her confession of the temptation to decorate her baby’s innocent face with a monobrow, or perhaps a moustache. And the fast-moving script is packed with a fantastic array of typical or eccentric characters, all parodied by Harpur, and reminiscent of the Topp Twins’ brilliant gallery of iconic Kiwi types. The scenes offer an enticing range of opportunities, from deliriously enacted erotic fantasies to stand-up comedian chattiness. 

Next, the director Carrie Green has ensured there are no moments when the action flags, keeping writer/performer Harpur to a perfectly controlled canter for most of the course, permitting her to break into a wild gallop only at a few exciting climactic moments. The technology, while simple, supports the performance efficiently, especially in the device of recorded commentaries, whether these are by Sharni or hyped-up sports reporters.  

Harpur herself is no longer novice class – why, it is more than 10 years since she won Best Comedy at Dunedin Fringe in 2011, and fully four since she was here with Dead Dads Club – but her sparkle has gained a new sophistication, while she retains her laid-back delivery and earthy appeal. Swigging from a water bottle, with apparent disregard for her own safety, she throws herself with gusto into lively physical storytelling, that reminds me of Trafford Tanzi, and totally engages.  

Whether Harpur is riding, fighting, making love or minding a babe, she is amazingly energetic and convincing. If the deliberately casual delivery, fast pace and colloquial language cause the odd line to be lost in the rectangular space, with audience on 3 sides, her mime skills more than make up for this.  

Finally, even more than The Shit Kid’s pace and strength of narrative, I relish the typically ‘New Zild’ humour, that in its unique way manages to be at once extraordinarily self-confident, and extraordinarily self-deprecating.  

A cheerful, cheeky show with a distinctly Kiwi flavour, then, that trots along nicely, no shit, with plenty of good laughs and some tasty issues to graze on. We can be grateful Sarah Harpur has had the courage to tour to Dunedin, and even more grateful to the Fringe team, for heroically sparing no effort to support all the travelling and local artists, and make this a Festival worthy of the name.  

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Should go the distance and trot on to greener pastures

Review by Shauwn Keil 23rd Feb 2022

My friend and I take a seat in the Fringe Bar, anticipating a solid hour of some mildly bogan humour to keep us laughing away through the night. Before the performance begins, the first observable features are a standout wooden pallet with “Pony Poo $25” painted on, and a sparkly backdrop that comes to serve as an effective backlight and scenic backdrop.

The show opens with a voice-over narrating a horse race, and here enters Sharni (Sarah Harpur, also the writer) on a well-known toy pony. This, in combination with the voice-over is of course a theatrical convention for us to buy in to, and Harpur’s commitment to the bit sells it with excellence. I’ll state now that if you’re used to attending shows at the Fringe Bar, this show shakes up the programme in that it is very much more theatre than stand up. A welcome addition to a diverse venue.

Lights provide changes from day to night and from one setting to another. They also punctuate one joke; I love how much that backdrop works for all of this, such a good choice. Sound for the most part is in effects, with a little bit of music placed cleverly. As we progress through the story with great physicality and timing, I feel that not a single beat is missed.

This is an incredibly tidy performance throughout, though sometimes I’d call for more delivery on a punchline on the vocal side. Harpur is sincerely fantastic with her body, I can’t help but wonder if at times this gets in the way of the joke being told rather than extending on it for a larger laugh, but I’ll return to that shortly.

I’m not in the business of spoiling shows while in season, but a few key points regarding the content are sibling rivalry, crushed dreams, hopelessness, Mitsy Evo, White Satan, and a mention of skulling a beer in 4 seconds. To know what that all means, you should attend. Content moves quickly through this show, and the physical commitment to the characters keeps an excellent pace on the whole performance.

The general energy is quite casual, something that for my taste, falls below what I would want to see in a theatre show, but for the purpose of craft, Carrie Green’s direction on the story telling focus remains consistent and appropriate for each segment of the play. And for what it’s worth, the audience has a bloody good laugh throughout. I think it’s important to be able to differentiate taste from craft in this way, because while some of the laughs are lost on me, the room around me loves it; start to finish. 

My friend adds that while it might not be his cup of tea in the end, he enjoys “the low brow-ness” of the comedy. A valid hook in my opinion. I encourage you to see and support this show; it is what I would consider a developmental season and deserves audiences to feed back with their live response to help see it through to the next phase. It already has a punch and I’m keen for it to go the distance and trot n to greener pastures.

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