Lawson Field Theatre, Gisborne

26/11/2014 - 27/11/2014

Theatre Royal, 78 Rutherford Street, Nelson

02/11/2014 - 02/11/2014

St James Theatre, Courtenay Place, Wellington

10/11/2014 - 10/11/2014

Fortune Theatre, Dunedin

04/11/2014 - 08/11/2014

Hannah Playhouse, Cnr Courtenay Place & Cambridge Terrace, Wellington

28/10/2014 - 31/10/2014

4th Wall Theatre, New Plymouth

17/11/2014 - 23/11/2014

MTG Century Theatre, 1 Tennyson St, Napier

28/11/2014 - 29/11/2014

Production Details

New Zealand Tour – Oct/Nov 2014
Australian Tour – 2015/2016 

This is the story of two brothers ripped apart by the most infamous act in trans-Tasman sport. When the Aussies committed what Rob Muldoon later described as ‘An act of cowardice appropriate to a team that wears a yellow uniform’, The MCG ignited: Kiwis v Aussies, Aussies v Aussies, and Colin and Dons’ drunk parents violently versus each other. Kiwi Mum drags Colin, screaming, off to live in Wellington, NZ. Don marinates with Dad at home in Brisbane. 

As adults, Don and Colin are reunited at the Basin Reserve in Wellington, and put on trial the very man responsible for their separation – the Australian cricket captain in 1981, Greg Chappell. But the hijinks soon turn serious when the scab’s ripped off their troubled past and the focus shifts to the real culprit: which parent was responsible for their lost childhood? What results is a tumultuous ride through sport, politics and the ugly side of broken families. And, of course, the perennial sledging match that is Aussie-Kiwi relations. 

Silly Mid On Productions has launched a fresh new production, and we’re thrilled to announce award-winning Australian actor, Jeremy Kewley will play the boorish but troubled Aussie, Don. 

Reprising his role as the Kiwi brother, Colin, is multi-award-winning Wellington actor, Christopher Brougham. 

Directing is one of New Zealand’s most celebrated actor/directors, Peter Hambleton. With multiple awards from a 30 year career in stage and film, Peter joins us fresh from his role as the dwarf, Gloin, in The Hobbit trilogy. 

The Underarm is touring New Zealand in Oct/Nov, 2014, and Australia at venues in Perth, NSW and Victoria, 2015. A further two-month tour of Australia commences in March, 2016. 

Accompanying us on tour is an actual ball used in that divisive match in 1981. 



NEW ZEALAND – 2014   
Wellington, Hannah Playhouse – Oct 28-31, 7.30pm
Nelson, Theatre Royal – Nov 2, 6.30pm
Dunedin, Fortune Theatre Studio – Nov 4-8, Tues, 6pm; Wed-Sat, 7.30pm
Gore, SBS St James Theatre – Nov 10, 7.30pm 
Oamaru, Opera House – Nov 11, 7.30pm
Ashburton, Trust Event Centre – Nov 12, 7.30pm 
Greymouth, Regent Theatre – Nov 13, 7.30pm
Westport, NBS Theatre – Nov 14, 7.30pm
New Plymouth, 4th Wall Theatre – Nov 17-23, 7.30pm; Sun 2pm
Gisborne, Lawson Field Theatre – Nov 26-27 
Napier, MTG Century Theatre – Nov 28-29 

AUSTRALIA – 2015   
Perth, The Regal Theatre – Feb 2-8
Dubbo NSW, Dubbo Regional Theatre – March 6-7
Barraba NSW, Barraba Hotel – March 10
Bingara NSW, The Roxy Theatre – March 11
Coff’s Harbour NSW, Jetty Memorial Theatre – March 13-14
Drysdale Victoria, The Potato Shed – March 15-16
Melbourne, The Athenaeum Theatre – March 17-21


Colin Lewis:  Christopher Brougham 
Donald Lewis:  Jeremy Kewley 

Producer:  Christopher Brougham 
Set Designers:  John Hodgkins and Christopher Brougham 
Technician:  Tony Black

Very funny and thought-provoking

Review by Juliet Blakeney 27th Nov 2014

Greg Chappell really dropped the ball. 

Cricket is said to be a ‘gentleman’s game’ but the Aussies well and truly proved it’s “not really”. The infamous underarm bowl in Melbourne demonstrated beyond doubt that when you transport a sport to the other end of the globe the gentlemanly quality becomes forgotten.

The Aussie captain Greg Chappell made the biggest mistake of his life when he instructed his younger brother Trev to deliver an underarm bowl which, by denying the Kiwi batsman any chance of hitting a game-drawing six, was morally, ethically and sportingly wrong although legally permitted by the laws of the game at the time in 1981. 

As a result the Australians won, but in doing so they left the world with an incident that will never be forgotten. An incident capable of influencing relationships between the Aussies and the Kiwis and disrupting families and friends that span both nations.

The play by David Geary and Justin Gregory, directed by Peter Hambleton, is very very humorous but at the same time most thought-provoking as it touches on behaviour and attitudes that are current to me, still a teenager, not even born at the time of the incident. 

This to me is magic to the play. I enjoy the serious side of things and connect with the storyline of sibling rivalry and frustrated love projected through the behaviour of Kiwi Colin (Christopher Brougham) and Aussie Don (Jeremy Kewley) towards each other. 

I also enjoy the way they interact with us, the crowd at the game as it were. The set – designed by John Hodgkins and Christopher Brougham – is truly effective: it takes you to the Basin Reserve with its grassy banks, smuggled booze and other illicit contraband.

In the second half our compassion is aroused when we are introduced to a more sensitive side of the brash Aussie Don, who is so outrageously awful but somehow loveable.

The acting is phenomenal with both characters giving full-on, completely in-your face-performances that create opportunities for audience involvement. And as the play is set in the present, whenever the present is, they are able to incorporate the here and now into the performance, adding to its relevance.


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A ball-busting comedic night out for everyone

Review by Holly Shanahan 22nd Nov 2014

I saw The Underarm in one of its early productions at Circa Two in Wellington many years ago, and it is a pleasure to see it being given further development and regional touring to audiences who relate to and relish in this kind of work. It has come a long way from the version I saw.

The addition of Australian actor Jeremy Kewley and fresh direction by Peter Hambleton have given this show polish and a further injection of great humour (as well as the chance for us to have a good old laugh at an Aussie, something we Kiwis love – not that we ourselves are spared however!).

This is an irresistably endearing play. Despite it’s occasional cheesy moments and slightly unbelievable plot line, the two performers (Kewley, and the original Colin, NZ actor Christopher Brougham) have the Taranaki crowd yelling, hollering, chanting and at times bringing the house down with laughter. 

The throughline of the play follows two brothers, one raised Australian, the other Kiwi due to the separation of their parents when they were very young, although we do not unravel the backstory of these two unlikely relatives until later in the play. As now grown men, the two brothers share a bond in their passion for cricket and reunite occasionally to enjoy an Aussie-Kiwi test match. Cricket is the bond between the two men, and also, as we find out, an inciting factor in the disintegration of the family.

The set is evocative and perfectly simple: a sloping grassy embankment, the tall back fence and traditional pickets surrounding the pitch: a classic image of a test cricket ground which even I identify as the Basin Reserve. 

Two minutes and twenty three seconds is all it takes for Colin, the nervous, bullied and self-depreciating younger brother, to bring up cricket’s notorious ‘Underarm’ incident as a major bone of contention between him and his recently arrived brother Don – named, of course, after the iconic Australian cricketer Donald Bradman.

Don’s entrance, all bells and whistles – flag, ‘eskie’ and suitcase in tow – sets the tone of the evening perfectly. He is brash, crass, likeable, direct, drunk and loud, much in contrast to the more tentative Colin. He tramps brazenly through the crowd (the theatre being set up ‘terrace style’, complete with empty beercans which come in handy later in the show), all Aussie bravado and volume. Immediately, this convention sets up the role of the audience as a part of the show: the other spectators there to enjoy the game.   

When the start of play is delayed due to pitch conditions, the brothers go on to play out a mock ‘trial’, where the audience are asked to participate as judges in whether or not the ‘underarm’ was in fact an act of dishonour (which, of course, a Kiwi audience has no doubt about). The way the two men play out the historical match is whimsical and clever. Peter Hambleton’s direction in this sequence is superb, moving from the expected to unexpected on-stage action, and using props and simple costume effects cleverly and comically.

There are the generic Aussie/Kiwi jokes – the ones we all know – but there is something to be said about clichés, and the audience laps up the bickering humour we expect in a trans-Tasman comedy.

The playing out of the game is interspersed with moments played out from the brothers’ childhood: the only element of the play I feel is a little over-cooked performance-wise. The game re-enactment involves the actors switching quickly between different characters. It is always a pleasure when the two performers are so obviously enjoying themselves and feel very comfortable in the work. Christopher Brougham’s drunk Aussie wicketkeeper Rod Marsh is possibly my favourite, as well as the Richie Benau impersonation-off (which Brougham clearly wins).

As the game and the childhood memories play out, we uncover the darker relevance of this story for the characters, and how their staunch stance on right and wrong in the underarm story reflects their feelings about the conflict between their parents, and the events that led to their, and the brothers’, separation.

There are wonderfully funny moments throughout this play (jokes I even wrote down to take home and tell friends!) and the fact that the men are the rowdiest of the bunch in the audience reflects how much appeal this play has to a general audience. We all know and ‘love’ this story and it is great to see it engage people in theatre. 

Kewley is fantastic as Don and clearly loves every moment of taking the piss. His huge personality in the beginning gives the character a nice place to go as things become more personal between Don and Colin. I feel Christopher Brougham starts out a little too emotional for the confrontation moments to really fly. The inevitable confrontation itself is a bit predictable and could be told in a more subtle fashion. However, these are small things in such a likeable show. 

The end feels a little incomplete and rushed, but the finale (which I will leave a surprise) has some of the women nearly in fits.

The Underarm is a wickedly funny look at history, politics, ageing and the dramas and upheaval of broken families. My partner is no cricket fan yet he loves the show, as does everyone there. Despite its few flaws, this is great theatre to get everyday Kiwi’s in to see Kiwi stories.

It’s a ball-busting comedic night out for everyone.

Do go see it if you can, and if you are a cricket fan you certainly must not miss it!


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Howzat! - A play with superb spin

Review by Jo Hills 22nd Nov 2014

You’ll be bowled over by The Underarm. 4th Wall Theatre has done it again and brought another topnotch performance to New Plymouth. 

It’s one theatre experience you don’t want to miss. It will be as much of a talking point as the cricket game that initiated this incredibly clever and humorous play. You don’t even need to enjoy cricket or even know much about the game to love this production. You will find yourself in a delightful spin as it is a feast of entertainment on so many levels.

While The Underarm is about that one infamous ball bowled in the closing moments of the 1981 Australian-New Zealand one-day international match of the World Series Cup in Melbourne, it also includes some hard-hitting disclosures about families, sportsmanship, rivalry and life.

Jeremy Kewley (Australia) and Christopher Brougham (New Zealand) are a brilliant team with talent aplenty. They portray two brothers meeting at Wellington’s Basin Reserve to watch another trans-Tasman cricket match. Dressed in their respective team uniforms they reminisce, they drink and smoke, they argue and they reveal some painful truths.

As their life stories are exposed, the dialogue gives a beautifully balanced view of both sides of the story about that “ball of shame”.

For cricket fans, lots of the big names are mentioned like Trevor and Greg Chappell, Brian McKechnie, Sir Donald Bradman, Shane Warne, Lance Cairns, Martin Snedden, Rodney Marsh and Sir Richard Hadlee. There’s even a barrage of statistics and facts to keep the sports enthusiasts happy.

The props are a highlight of this production. They include eskies if you’re Australian, chilly bins if you’re a Kiwi, blow-up toys, lots of beer cans, flags, black tape, flippers and even a ball used in the underarm match. The two actors use the props to portray lots of different characters. Their delivery of these is superb.

The audience is encouraged to chant, shout abuse, hurl objects on to the stage and even preside as judge and jury, listening to the defence and prosecution’s arguments. The revealing ending catches you completely by surprise. It has all the enthusiastic appeal of a “howzat” to it.

The Underarm is of such high calibre it’s worthy of many a replay.


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Laughter with insight – and a chance to throw cans

Review by Maryanne Cathro 30th Oct 2014

It has been my experience of the middle-aged man that he does not express how he feels except under extreme duress. How appropriate then, that the action unfolds at the Basin Reserve between two middle-aged brothers, trying to fill in time after the catastrophic news that the start of the test has been delayed for an hour.  Duress indeed! 

Colin is a civil servant brought up in Wellington since age 10 by his mother. Don is a Brisbane-based criminal lawyer brought up since age 12 by his father.  A fight of epic proportions brought on by the underarm incident in 1981 caused this rift, and the only contact between the brothers since, after a ten year gap, has been to meet up at Kiwi/Aussie cricket matches.  

Given how many matches they must have attended together since, it is impressive that it took so long for the boiler of pent up emotion to blow. And all because of a delay in play.  This ‘time out’  gives Don a chance to wind up Colin even more than usual, accusations fly and before we know it, we are asked to be jury for a trial of Greg Chappell, because the infamous underarm incident has been the target of most of Colin’s transferred aggression. So naturally Don wants to play Devil’s advocate. Anything to avoid the real issues! 

While larger than life, the premise is still inherently believable, and the mixed up revelations of sporting cowardice, injury, loss, death, sibling rivalry and national identity that spin, bounce and roll like cricket balls across the field of the stage somehow weave together into a story that is larger than the whole of it. Sport reflects life and life reflects sport.  

Christopher Brougham has played Colin in earlier productions* of this play, and he captures his ordinariness well. It is therefore a joy to see Brougham’s versatility when Colin seamlessly portrays Don Bradman’s tyranny, Richard Hadlee’s hip swaying walk, Rodney Marsh’s intoxicated confusion and various other characters during the story telling.

Likewise Jeremy Kewley’s Don is as brash and amoral as only a criminal lawyer based on the Gold Coast can be, and he makes no effort to win our sympathy. He certainly pushes every button of my own ambivalent feelings about the other side of the Tasman.

And so a play as complex as the rules of cricket is as simple as the chance to laugh at how crazy people get over unimportant stuff, and important stuff.  I laugh a lot, the audience laughs a lot, we boo, we resist Don’s demands to chant “Aussie Aussie Aussie Oi Oi Oi!” and get in behind Colin’s “Koi-wi! Koi-wi!” We throw empty Tui cans because the chance to do that in a real theatre is just too good to pass up, and generally have a fantastic night out. 

And then afterwards, I imagine every one of the audience goes home remembering something a little different – something to laugh about, something to think about. Me, I prefer my comedy served with a side of insight and to that end, I’ve dined out well.

*See reviews from 2006 & 2008  


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