The Wrong Side

Te Karanga Gallery, Auckland

02/03/2011 - 04/03/2011

Auckland Fringe 2011

Production Details

An Auckland Fringe First: The Wrong Side   

What would you do to protect your family? For three days only, a fresh new theatre-writing talent from the UK will be asking audiences to consider how far they’d go to protect the ones they love. 

The Wrong Side is a bold new innovative work and the debut New Zealand show for playwright and actor Stephen Lunt. It’s a touching tale of survival and brotherly love, where fantasy masks reality and tragedy is met with poignant comedy. 

Two young kids hide in an abandoned flat, living only on Tom’s charity handouts. Tom would do anything to stop ‘them’ taking his brother Midge away. But how do they survive? What happened to their parents? And what is lurking outside the front door…?

The Wrong Side explores what happens when the story that protects, starts to become more than just a fairytale. Stephen Lunt, author and Producer of The Wrong Side, says: “The play uses a rousing blend of suspense, comedy and tragedy. It’s free entry (koha/donation optional) so that as many people as possible can enjoy the play. The Wrong Side is a great way of showcasing a talented cast in my first show in New Zealand and I am looking forward to seeing how the Fringe audiences react to it.” 

The Wrong Side
Wednesday 2 March to Friday 4 March at
Te Karanga Gallery – 208 Karangahape Road, Auckland.
8pm – entry is free and no tickets are required.
Koha/donation is optional.  

Jim Cawthorne:  Tom 

Sam Christopher:  Midge  

Emotionally charged intensity with humour and love

Review by Lexie Matheson ONZM 04th Mar 2011

If the shows I’ve seen this week are examples of what’s on offer at the 2011 Auckland Fringe Festival then Auckland alternative theatre is finally coming of age – and it’s not before time. 

The Wrong Side sits firmly in the mainstream of fringe theatre works in that it is a conventionally scripted play performed in a room by actors saying lines that have been written for them and watched by an audience sitting in rows. The late, lamented Mervyn Thompson would have hated it … well, that’s what he would have said. Personally, I have my doubts about that. I think he would have secretly loved the intensity and the passion! 

Playwright and producer Stephen Lunt (UK) has crafted a clever 60 minute play that wrings our withers most effectively. Sadly, neither director nor actors are identified which is a shame as these roles are performed with great integrity and no small amount of skill. 

The story of two young boys, incarcerated by choice in an abandoned building, is allowed to unfold before our eyes through multi-layered narrative upon interlocking narrative until we don’t know what is truth and what is fiction.

The unravelling of plot using two voices – reflective recollection (often flawed) and standard storytelling techniques – is a path a well trod but Lunt manages to avoid all the common pitfalls while remaining committed to a linear mode of scripted recounting. This is highly intelligent stuff as it entices us in, makes us assess – and re-assess – what we are experiencing and has us always on the edge of our seats.

This particular quality always makes the drive home redolent with vibrant conversation and, since we took our eight year old with us, there was a legitimacy to this post-match discussion that was singularly refreshing. This was particularly germane as it related to adult actors playing children – always fraught – and what he, aged eight, would have done had the dragon (the threat from outside) actually materialised. Suffice to say he was most impressed with his evening, as indeed he should have been, for this is unashamedly a play about boys – about brothers – and their hot-wired need to provide familial care and protection. 

There are moments that are Pinteresque in their innate Englishness – the Yorkshire pud, the ‘seaside’, the safari park and the Scouse monkeys – but, somehow, this doesn’t jar with the strong antipodean voice that each actor brings to the piece. In some ways it enriches the experience as there is a universality in the narrative that finally, and tragically, unfurls and we feel it, and understand it, with every fibre of our being.

This is fine writing brought to life by performing of real authenticity and it draws us achingly and inevitably into an evaluation of what is truthful and what is real, not just in the play’s narrative but also as it applies to what happens in our theatres. There is denial, forcefully stated, and a power shift between the characters as they, with a predictability that shocks, take on the roles of their parents, thus enabling the facts to be finally and ruthlessly exposed and the fourth wall, so carefully maintained throughout, to be painfully broken.

It’s emotionally charged and intense stuff but liberally infused with humour and lashings of a sweet familial love that (almost) allows us to leave the theatre with our emotions intact. I say ‘almost’ because the otherwise excellent performances could benefit from trusting the silences intrinsic to the text and from exploring those sections where a quieter, more intense, vocal delivery would further illustrate the boys’ immense fear of being discovered. 

Lunt’s script is an excellent addition to the broader festival repertoire and deserves every opportunity for development and further production. 

This review kindly supported by The James Wallace Arts Trust


For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.   


Stephen Lunt March 5th, 2011

 Hi, the actors' names are Samuel Christopher, who played Midge, and Jim Cawthorne, who played Tom. Thanks to everyone who came to watch the show, and thanks to Sue at Caravan Creative for the poster design. And thanks to Jim and Sam for sterling performances! 

[Now added to the production page. - ED]

Vivienne Michaels March 5th, 2011

The young man playing the younger of the brothers was Samuel Christopher and the elder was James (something.. sorry the surname escapes me!!). I thought they were very good. Thanks to all for a great show.


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