Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

25/02/2014 - 08/03/2014

Production Details


County Meath, Ireland. Jerome, raised by his Grandfather, ex-Gardai Inspector Seamus, has dedicated his life to finishing the work Seamus left unfinished; cleaning Ireland of the criminals that the law cannot touch. By any means necessary.

This is Ireland, however, where history, particularly family history, has a habit of getting in the way. 

Enter a Catholic priest with his own confession to make, a self confessed “bad Bishop”, a school teacher whose lessons are just beginning, and a shadowy figure for whom the troubles never ended, and this small farm is going to be the site of secrets, scandal and sedition. 

Oh, did we mention it’s a comedy?

After making its world premiere at The Court Theatre (Christchurch) in 2012, The Slapdash Assassin, the first new play in years from award-winning Irish playwright Mark Power, comes to Auckland in February 2014, for a strictly limited season. The producers would like to acknowledge the Court Theatre’s strong logistical support of this new season.

Comedian Jeremy Elwood (TV3’s 7 days) returns to his theatre roots, and heads up a stellar cast featuring Damien Avery (Underbelly NZ, Siege), Mick Innes (Hounds), Chelsea McEwan-Millar (Go Girls), Stephen Papps (Russian Snark, The End of The Golden Weather) and John Watson (Starlight Hotel) in a contemporary take on the underlying issues facing modern day Ireland: religion, politics, forgiveness and what really constitutes terrorism. All wrapped up in a family drama and laugh out loud comedy.

Directed by Patrick Davies (Glorious) this script is as black as a pint of Guinness, and in the vein of ‘Boondock Saints’ and ‘In Bruges’ it treats no subject as taboo, but injects strong musings on the nature of violence and the failings of history with incredibly sharp, achingly funny dialogue.

“It is savagely funny but has a truthful pulse which never skips a beat through a series of startling and sometimes shocking events. There is a potent sting in this tale… There is plenty of laughter, plenty of wit, but under it all events more inevitably lead to a conclusion as humorously bitter as could be imagined.” – 

The Slapdash Assassin
February 25th to March 8th (not 2nd or 3rd) 8pm
The Basement Theatre
$25 from and 

Theatre ,

Killer Father Ted

Review by Andrew Parker 03rd Mar 2014

If you knew nothing at all about Ireland or its people then chances are a trip to see Mark Power’s play The Slapdash Assassin would get you up to speed, or at the very least deter you from visiting anytime in the immediate future. One half of the Basement’s ‘Murder Season’, Assassin is a blackly comic microcosm of the country’s sociological make-up, tackling religion, terrorism and politics in a fashion which is half-way between Father Ted and Reservoir Dogs. It’s a play where the humour is used to excoriate, cutting to the heart of modern Ireland and laughing, perhaps a little ruefully, at the darkness within.

The titular assassin is Jeremy Elwood’s Jerome, to whom we’re first introduced covered in the shit of man he’s just messily killed. This is dealt with so matter-of-factly it takes a couple of minutes to fully grasp what’s happening; his grandfather’s first reaction is to tell him to stay outside until he can lay down a tarp. Violence is clearly as much a part of the texture of this household as the somewhat dated furniture and faded photographs. Sex, though, is a bit more eyebrow raising. This is shown when Jerome’s cousin Vincent returns home from Las Vegas with that most awkward accessory for a Catholic priest, a new wife. The fact that this causes more consternation than Jerome’s habit of murdering people proves the blunt end of a sophisticated argument about the relative comfort we take in brutality as opposed to sexuality. Vincent agonises over his decision. Jerome appears decidedly relaxed about his chosen career – even when it turns out that his decision to execute some IRA lackeys a year earlier has had some unexpected repercussions. [More]


Make a comment

Savagely funny

Review by Johnny Givins 26th Feb 2014

After a series of short productions The Basement Theatre really gets going in 2014 with a rip-roaring full length play.  The Slapdash Assassin is an Irish black comedy full of surprises, plot twist, an idiosyncratic family and incredibly sharp insights into the underlying issues facing modern Ireland.  

The Slapdash Assassin presents a triumphant performance from Jeremy Elwood.  He not only anchors the play, fills it with energy and wonderful one liners, he gives a heart and reality to all that goes around him.  This is a play that sees our successful stand up comedian hit the mark as an actor. 

Elwood plays Jerome who has been raised by his grandfather, ex-Gardai Inspector (Irish Police) Seamus.  He has been trained to be his grandfather’s arm of retribution to the criminals Seamus couldn’t reach.  Jerome is cleaning Ireland of the criminals that the law couldn’t touch.  He is very good at the killing.

He is also wonderful at storytelling.  In true ‘Irish style’, he embroiders every event with a tumult of gags and visual pictures that has the audience roaring.  Elwood’s interaction with every character is direct and with his ridicule he explodes the myths of three pillars of Ireland: the Church, the ‘Cause’, and the Family.

The Slapdash Assassin’s writer, Mark Powers, was a leading young playwright in the UK, winning the Pearson Award for Best Play in 1986 for Boys from Hibernia, but he got distracted and did not write for years. As noted in the media release for its world premiere last year in Christchurch (NZ), it “grew out of a conversation with Irish writer Mark Power, who was writer-in-residence at the Liverpool playhouse in the 1980s while Court Theatre Chief Executive Philip Aldridge was an actor. In 2008 Power and Aldridge resumed contact and Power outlined the basic premise of The Slapdash Assassin …”

The Court Theatre’s Artistic Director, Ross Gumbley “loved the idea” and commissioned Power to write his first full-length work in twenty years. The Court Theatre mounted the world premiere, directed by Gumbley, in 2012 to audience and critical acclaim.

The Science of Humans Theatre production of The Slapdash Assassin, directed by Patrick Davies at The Basement Theatre in Auckland, is the second production of this excellent script. It has two of the original cast: Jeremy Ellwood recreating Jerome and the delightful Damien Avery as Vincent, Jerome’s cousin who became a local Irish priest but arrives from Las Vegas after getting married to one of his parishioners. These two actors play together like veterans, with excellent timing and relish.

There are other great characters.  Mick Innes’s Grandfather Seamus, although small in stature, makes a feast of the Irish patriarch.  John Watson is magnificent as the bad Bishop Gus in his purple, and it is not robes for the cathedral. Stephen Papps’ mysterious Uncle Pod is imposing and dangerous. As Grace, the Priest’s new wife, Chelsea McEwan-Millar captures the Irish female unflappability covering a personal rage with striking emotional energy and perception.

This is a well structured and clever play.  Every character makes impact on arrival and the audience loves every turn.  There are so many turn you will admire the revelations and how the reality of the issues: Religion, Politics, Forgiveness, and Terrorism are dissected and ridiculed by witty and accurate lines.  If you are catholic I understand you get even more humour! 

Unfortunately the set design is more fitting to a student flat than an Irish farm kitchen of a retired police inspector.  The Irish accents do come and go in their accuracy and effectiveness. However this really doesn’t matter when you have such an entertaining script with comedy performances that make the audience roar. 

It is worth seeing just to laugh with Jeremy Ellwood who is savagely funny, doesn’t miss a beat, and tells a great story.  He has kissed the Blarney Stone with passion.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council