Concert Chamber - Town Hall, THE EDGE, Auckland

07/10/2013 - 12/10/2013

Production Details

An hilarifying, terrifying, School Holiday Treat    

Monday 7 – Saturday 12 October at the Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall 

Nobody knew what it was or where it came from – but the towns’ folk knew something was going on at the old homestead… it was The Thing From The Place. Lurking in a laboratory where test tubes bubble mysteriously, organs play creepily and giant snot monsters make mischief amongst the shadows.

Theatre Beating gleefully unearths the gems of B-grade celluloid to bring to the stage a post-modern-monster-mash-up to hilarify children of all ages with the premiere season of The Thing From The Place

Inspired by Boris Karloff and Bela Lugosi, and blending them with the genius stylings of silent film greats Keaton and Chaplin, The Thing From The Place is an homage to the golden age of gloriously shabby and endearingly kitsch horror and sci-fi cinema.

Concocted specifically for kids aged 6 – 12 from The Thing From The Place will teleport you back to a time of B-grade high-camp when scientists laughed maniacally, vampires chewed scenery and aliens in tin-foil tried to drink our brains.

In creating and premiering The Thing From The Place, Theatre Beating, New Zealand’s most creative physical comedy company, confirm their reputation for intelligent, inspired and explosive comedy following the success of the critically acclaimed anarcho-mime-puppet-slapstick-family-cooking-show The Magic Chicken.

“We make children’s comedy that we love; it’s playful but not patronising which makes it fun for adults and children. Children love the mischievousness, adults are delighted by the subversive nature of our comedy. And it’s silly. What more can we say”

Re-uniting The Magic Chicken’s comedy exponents Trygve Wakenshaw and Barnie Duncan under the direction of Geoff Pinfield, the two are let loose in an expressionist world of wibbling mummies and wobbling scenery created by award-winning designers Celery Productions and lit through the gloom by acclaimed lighting designer Nik Janiurek. Throw in Billy T Award-winning Johnny Brugh (the eponymous Chicken in Magic Chicken) some live foley and melodramatic theremin music of hideously scarred organist Jeff Henderson and you have a live B-grade horror to laugh at and scare yourself simultaneously.

Exploring and celebrating the instantly recognisable tropes of classic horror style they subvert the clichéd bubbling laboratories, haunted castles and cobwebby crypts to create a ghoulish new family-oriented horror-comedy physical theatre show.

A screamingly silly mash-up of movie monsters and mad scientists, The Thing from the place will hilarify the kid in all of us. 

The world premiere season of The Thing From The Place runs from
Monday 7 – Saturday 12 October,
11am and 1.30pm
at the Concert Chamber, Auckland Town Hall.
Tickets are $17
and available from the Aotea Centre Box Office
or online at or 0800 111 999 or 09 970 9700.

Barnie Duncan
Trygve Wakenshaw
Jonathan Brugh

Musician:  Jeff Henderson

Ella Mizrahi and Celia Harrison, Celery Productions

Technical Manager:  Nik Janiurek

Mad Science

Review by Dionne Christian 10th Oct 2013

Okay, recently I wrote of the joys of taking kids to the theatre and of seeing their faces “light up” as they connect with what they’re seeing on stage. Of course, the converse is when they react badly: they shout that they’re bored, they wriggle and jiggle and ask when it will be over, they’re so terrified they cry (loudly) or, in the case of The Thing from the Place, they’re so grossed out that they rush from the auditorium and vomit in the bathroom.

So it was with Miss Eight, but I’d say the grossness on stage – which loads of the young audience love – wasn’t wholly responsible …

But if you have a child like my Miss Four who giggles and whoops and screams with the best of them, The Thing from the Place will be a wonderful mash up of mad science, monsters, romance – yes, it’s ultimately a love story – and madcap acting, dancing and singing. [More


Make a comment

Conclusively hilarifying Gothic-Horror gross-out comedy love story

Review by Nik Smythe 08th Oct 2013

The archetypal ‘mad scientist creates a monster’ plot is a legacy first immortalised in cinema by James Whale’s Frankenstein in 1931, the plot and style of which served as blueprints for countless lesser-budget horror movies over the next three decades and more.  It’s also one of if not the most satirised genres. 

Theatre Beating’s latest offering in holiday family entertainment utilises this recognised, beloved-by-many format to tell a story that, while never shying away from predictable cliché, contains some original elements and manages a few surprises, both in the story and some ingenious theatrical effects. 

I gather director Geoff Pinfield co-devised the pastiche-laden, absurdity-driven script with his excitable cast of nutcases.  The supernatural menace in this instance originates from deep within the protagonist’s olfactory centre.  That’s right – it’s a snotmonster!

Jonathan Brugh plays Frankie, the naïve and ambitious scientist whose research in the field of sniffle-curing horrifies his haughty, hygiene-obsessed mother (a comically bearded Trygve Wakenshaw).  Believing he’s cracked it, he enlists the expertise of his hero – senior mad-scientist at the forefront of nasal science research – Doctor Lungbutter, also played by Wakenshaw in a white coat and a different nose. The three human characters’ distinct prosthetic proboscises are another nicely appropriate touch. 

Due to a disastrous laboratory mishap that needs to be seen to have disbelief suspended, an enormous and evidently sentient creature emerges from Frankie’s own nostrils. Dexterously performed by a fully concealed Barnie Duncan, Clarissa the giant nose-bogey is a magnificent, lumpy, shiny lime-green spandex squirming blob.  The challenge here is how to make a character created from nasal mucus sympathetic; somehow, they ultimately succeed. 

Gothic horror isn’t the only genre up for parody here – numerous references for the ‘trainspotters’ include King Kong, West Side Story and Pretty Woman.  The story itself is as much a coming-of-age fable and romantic tragedy, as it is a supernatural thriller. Of course, it’s as much absurdist comedy as everything else combined.

Celery Productions’ visual design (Ella Mizrahi and Celia Harrison), lit by Nik Janiurek, certainly plays into the pseudo-gothic theme with its multiple entrances and split-levels, dark staircase, cage doors, smoking test tubes and steampunk gadgetry.  Ingenious graphic effects projected upon the main wall include bubbling litmus dishes and expanding nasal emissions.

Composer and musician Jeff Henderson’s score comprises a glorious mash-up of pipe-organ tension chords, discordant piano flourishes, uplifting montage-themes and melancholic refrains et cetera, inset with occasional recognisable stings from soundtracks such as Close Encounters and The Phantom

Undeniably essential, inspired and outstanding as Henderson’s soundtrack is in conception and execution, the volume is often quite excessive in contrast to the cast’s un-amplified voices, and would benefit from remixing down as far as fifty percent in certain scenes. 

I daresay this and other issues with the timing and coordination of the rather complex theatrics will be addressed and improved during their short weeklong run.  However, I am inclined to feel the concert chamber is not the most ideal venue for such a pastiche-driven work – the acoustic difficulties and lighting limitations (true blackout not possible in the daytime) compromise its stylistic potential to some degree. 

Fortunately there’s still plenty going on to be entertained by.  For child-friendly purposes the emphasis is far more on comedy than horror – there are no genuinely scary moments; the most disturbing element is the snot-based comedy that even has the cast retching as they wipe their hands on their coats. 

It occurs to me the ambiguity of the title gives Theatre Beating room in the event they produce a sequel (which for a complete homage they surely must), they could advance this tale – after all, as Dr Lungbutter asserts: “Boogers can’t be killed, they can only be captured!” or alternatively opt from an entirely different form of Thing from a wholly separate kind of Place.

The blurb on the flyer purports this show to be concocted especially to hilarify both children and adults.  I can vouch as one of many hilarified adults, and the children’s laughter and occasionally unsolicited participation are conclusive proof.


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council