Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

08/04/2014 - 12/04/2014

Production Details


Playfight Productions is excited to announce their new play ‘There’s a Bluebird in my Heart, but I tell it Shut Up”, directed by Jessica Joy Wood, at the Basement from April the 8th until April the 12th

Written and acted by some of the funniest people in town, such as Josh Thomson, Renee Lyons, Aidee Walker, Nic Sampson, and Natalie Medlock (to name but a few), ‘There’s a Bluebird inside my heart, but I tell it to shut up’, is a personal and specific response to Charles Bukowski’s heartbreakingly dark poem ‘Bluebird’. It’s a comment on every pop song ever made. A ‘here’s to’ for every time you’ve been too self conscious to swallow while watching a sex scene with your family. And a nod to that point in the conversation where you could step up, but instead you go “ahhhh…f*ck it, I’m out.” 

Acknowledging that nothing about us is ever fully original, and that every secret you have ever had has already been spilt and splattered all over the walls, ‘There’s a Bluebird inside my heart, but I tell it to shut up’ will make you laugh, and then make you feel like crying, but you probably won’t because you’re too tough for that. 

All proceeds of this show will go to Project Jonah, because dolphins and whales have the most giant hearts. Literally. They are huge. And they keep stranding themselves, so you know there’s got to be some unresolved dark issues there. 

You don’t want to miss a rare chance to feel good about being bad…

Head to the Basement website for more info at:

There’s a Bluebird Inside My Heart but I Tell it to Shut Up plays
The Basement, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland, 8-12 April 2014 @ 6.30pm
Tickets: $15 – Book now @  iTicket


Bluebird written by Charles Bukowski
Performed by Mick Innes.

All Day Breakfast written by Shoshana McCallum
Performed by Josh Thomson and Liz McGlinn.

Finding India written by Renee Lyons
Performed by Donna Brookbanks and Shoshana McCallum.

The Game written by Kate McGill
Performed by Andrew Munro and Renee Sheridan

Sky High written by Shoshana McCallum
Performed by Thomas Sainsbury and Simon Wolfgram.

Pippa and Polly written by Aidee Walker
Performed by Luanne Gordon and Renee Sheridan.

Farmer Farmer Son Son written by Josh Thomson
Performed by Josh Thomson, Andrew Munro, Alistair Browning, and Mick Innes. 

Brasica written by Roman Numerals
Performed by Jordan Blaikie and Shoshana McCallum. 

Joshua and Rose written by Luanne Gordon.
Performed by Simon Wolfgram and Renee Sheridan. 

Philip Gareth
Written by Nic Sampson. Performed by Nic Sampson. 

Mum Says written by Jessica Joy Wood.
Performed by Josh Thomson and  Shoshana McCallum

Butterflies written by Natalie Medlock.
Performed by Harry McNaughton and Ria Vandervis.

The Overlap written by Jordan Blaikie.
Performed by Jordan Blaikie and Kate McGill

Carla and Tommy D written by Lena Conway
Performed by Thomas Sainsbury and Harry McNaughton

Captain Bluebird written by Louis Mendiola.
Performed by Mick Innes and Jordan Blaikie.

Produced by Shoshana McCallum, Kate McGill and Jessica Joy Wood.

Technical designers and operators: Amber Molloy and Sam Mence.

Stage design by Jessica Joy Wood and Shoshana McCallum.

Theatre ,

Honest, raw and hopeful characters hold the focus

Review by Candice Lewis 09th Apr 2014

Bukowski: drunkard, genius and icon. We are bearing witness to the inspiration of his ‘Bluebird’ poem for 13 writers. I want to be critical, to find all the holes, to spit through them and shout “Bukowski wept!”  Instead, as the series of vignettes unfolds, I remind myself to blink.  

The small stage is set to look like a gilded birdcage, the back drop is a blackboard wall with the poem written in white chalk, much of it obscured by artworks and objects that are occasionally used as props. A dishevelled Mick Innes sets the scene reciting the poem, and then we go for a very interesting ride indeed.

The very first scene is ‘All Day Breakfast’ by Shoshana McCallum.  It’s an awkward date between a pretentious bloke (Josh Thomson) and a shallow woman (Liz McGlinn) who misunderstand each other and display their lack of sensitivity at every turn. I enjoy the performance immensely, but it’s hard to see where the bluebird resides.

If the ‘bluebird’ is hope, or something tender and real, then it is absent from the lives of these two characters. They appear to have been thrashing around in self made cages of stupidity for so long that the damage is irreparable. This absence makes the presence of the proverbial bluebird so precious in every upcoming scene.

Director Jessica Joy Wood has kept the movement and proximity of the actors to each other tight for most performances; it creates an intimacy that’s immediate.

The stage is set with a few simple props, most often a table and glasses, wine or whisky swirling in the light. There is often an unexpected element that is exposed in these relationships; that moment when I think “oh so that’s what’s really going on!.”

In ‘Finding India’, written by Renee Lyons and performed by Donna Brookbanks and Shoshana McCallum, two friends at first seem to be doing nothing more than half-hearted bickering in the overwhelming heat and stench of India.  I’m listening closely, but as with eavesdropping, I’m not entirely sure if I’ve understood what’s revealed. Did she just say she should have a full mastectomy?  

In ‘Sky High’ by Shoshana McCallum, Thomas Sainsbury’s female incarnation speaks and moves much like Chris Lilley’s ‘Private School Girl’ Ja’mie from the Summer Heights High satire. Even if derivative, it doesn’t matter because it’s funny and Sainsbury pulls it off.  Except although Sainsbury’s female is supposed to be high after smoking a lot of dope, I can’t figure out why she’s then behaving like someone using Methamphetamine (P).  Perhaps we are to deduce that she’s going into a drug-induced schizophrenic meltdown? Simon Wolfgram’s subtle performance as the long suffering manager also commands attention.  

‘Pippa and Polly’ by Aidee Walker is absolutely gripping: the wife and the mistress onstage played by Luanne Gordon and Renee Sheridan. I am enthralled with Gordon’s portrayal as a wife meeting up with the unsuspecting mistress; she longs for revenge yet is also smitten with her.   

Comedy wise, Nic Sampson nails it with his compelling and slightly repellent creation of Philip Gareth, “a 36 year old collector of motel art”. Sampson’s Gareth brings to mind English satires such as Harry Enfield, League of Gentlemen and Little Britain. I’m not blinking at all, and if my eyes ever close it’s because I’m laughing so hard. Philip Gareth needs to live.

The only detail that doesn’t work is the footwear: very sexy boots which I can’t imagine would be chosen by the jumper-encased Philip. Oh don’t get me wrong. Philip’s confident (he sort of thinks he’s Sean Connery), but it is the kind of obsessive confidence that got him collecting art work from motels.

This review is only a taster! How can I leave out the intensity of the performances in ‘Butterflies’ by Natalie Medlock? Harry McNaughton’s angry young man is wound so tight it’s a wonder there isn’t a giant key in his back. Ria Vandervis is thoughtful and authentic in playing his sister. This scene shakes me a little bit; I have a friend whose brother is aggressive, depressed and violent. Fortunately we have hope for the butterfly catcher; he can admit to his anger even if he doesn’t yet understand it.   

The pace of the show keeps me focused. The characters, no matter how absurd, are honest, raw and hopeful. They may bring your bluebird to life with tears or laughter, but there’s no keeping it in the cage.   

This show is donating all proceeds to Project Jonah, so you also get to feel good about saving whales!


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It should’ve listened

Review by Matt Baker 09th Apr 2014

Thirteen writers were given the poem ‘Bluebird’ by Charles Bukowski, and asked to write a scene based on what it meant to them. It’s a straight-forward premise, and one that primes an audience for an insightful night of theatre. However, while such inspiration affords  writers the opportunity to produce successful works, such as Gary Henderson’s Skin Tight inspired by Denis Glover’s ‘The Magpies’, or Darren Aronofsky’s 7th grade poem about Noah inspiring the multi-million dollar box office film of the same name, there is always the danger that inspiration simply does not take.

Of the fourteen scenes that follow the obligatory performance of the poem itself, the majority aims for a comical, absurdist tone in both dialogue and delivery, which results is an overall lack of substance across the board. While comedy is a valid response, and each scene producing the same amount of insight as the original piece not being a grand expectation, it seems that absurdist comedy has become the final refuge of writers who don’t have much to say. [More]


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