Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

18/09/2012 - 22/09/2012

Whammy Bar, St Kevin’s Arcade, K' Road, Auckland

06/03/2013 - 08/03/2013

Auckland Fringe 2013

Production Details

The Basement Theatre presents a brand new two-woman, 15-character comedy exploring the fear and uncertainty that comes with change, no matter how inevitable.

Struggling with the decline of analogue business in a digital era and a lack of personal privacy, Gerald, the only watchmaker in town, is forced to re-evaluate his way of life – questioning his existence and friendships around him.

Directed by Sneaky Giraffe Productions Director Trish Phelan, TICKING TIME BOMB, stars recent Unitec Graduates Loren Mason and Caroline Muller.

The debut run of this new work will be presented in a short season at Auckland’s Basement Theatre from September 18 – 22, 2012. Tickets are strictly limited and will be available from iticket.co.nz as of 22nd August.

The Basement Theatre Studio
September 18 – 22,2012
Book at www.iticket.co.nz  

Auckland Fringe runs from 15 February to 10 March 2013. For more Auckland Fringe information go to www.aucklandfringe.co.nz

6th, 7th, and 8th March, 8pm
Duration: 55 minutes Venue: Whammy Bar, St. Kevin’s Arcade, Karangahape Road
Tickets: Adults $15.00, Conc $10.00
Bookings: iTicket – www.iticket.co.nz  or 09 361 1000 

Starring Loren Mason and Caroline Muller  

Publicity by Katherine Van Bysterveldt
Lighting & Sound Designed by Stuart Phillips 

An hilarious, recognisable and truly screwed up small town

Review by Stephen Lunt 07th Mar 2013

Many of the best comedy character actors started in sketch shows like Ticking Time Bomb, and Loren Mason and Caroline Muller are no exception.  Each actress takes on countless small town characters and, for the most part, portrays them using only their physicality and voice. 

Many of these are stereotypes and have been done before, but we know them and this guides us in bookmarking each character throughout the piece.  The Nerd, the Jock, the Temptress, the Busy-body, the Schoolboy and the Chinese Restaurant owner, to name but a few, are performed beautifully.  I think I’ve met most of them.

Directed by Trish Phelan, the staging is simple: a black backdrop, two stools and a shadeless lamp to represent the shop.  The use of a buzzer to signal the many different characters coming and going is a nice touch.  Spotlights are used to single out characters in a speed-dating scene and characters traditionally facing each other, face us, bringing us into the action.

The script is funny in parts, but relies heavily on physical humour, which is where most of the comedy lies.  I’d like to see a unity in the script, as the many voices used to write it leaves it flailing in parts.  The theme of the piece, which is only evident at the end, needs to be embedded in the script throughout, as although the characters are engaging, we are left wondering the reason for their being part of the whole.

As the characters are so well defined, I believe the next step for Ticking Time Bomb is to get rid of the wigs and costume altogether as the show loses pace in these changes.  This pace is also lost during the yo-yoing of characters mid scene.  I’m not sure this works as well as intended in parts, but good direction in other parts has smoothed this out. 

Ticking Time Bomb is all about the characters though, and it has these in abundance.  A very entertaining show, set in an hilarious, recognisable, and truly screwed up small town.  

As actresses go, Loren Mason and Caroline Muller really are ones to look out for in the future.


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Impressive character-driven fable

Review by Nik Smythe 19th Sep 2012

Upstage centre a large black changing screen sports a chalk-drawn grandfather clock with an effectively backlit roman-numeral face.  Various sparse items of furniture and props complete the set.*

On the face of it the play is a story of obsolescence, as bespectacled small-town watchmaker Gerald (Loren Mason) struggles for business in the digital age.  He seems somewhat a man out of time himself. His nervous, old-fashioned disposition is at odds with those he interacts with, especially his large, loud, nasal, toothy assistant Sharon (Caroline Muller).

But the really appealing quality of Ticking Time Bomb is its ingenious depiction of a community, and the eclectic range of exaggerated, sometimes stereotyped characters it contains.  Mitch the bogan delivery man, Annette the salsa-dancing salon stylist and head gossip, Thomas the know-all schoolkid and Wang the hospitable Asian restaurant hostess, to name a few of the main ones.

The impressive performance of the two-handed cast of fifteen-odd echoes the physical prowess and amplified caricatures of classic Commedia del Arte, without the masks.

To begin with, the various roles are distinguished by the use of wigs and accessories, and while the use of these gimmicks is cleverly employed in a number of amusing ways, they don’t distract from the performance or the story.  Nor are they strictly adhered to; once we can recognise the manner and gait of a character, their wig or other defining prop becomes less necessary.

Mason and Muller devised the script with director Trish Phelan, and time is indeed of the essence in this hour-long character-driven fable.  Not that there’s any sense of hurry or panic, but both the business and nature of time are central to the action, right up to the climactic twist.

All round Ticking Time Bomb is a sweet little tale about a loving community that drives each other crazy.  Upon its conclusion, some of the potentially confusing aspects of the preceding comic drama become clearer, though there’s a fair amount still left to wonder about. And for all the broad strokes that illustrate these almost cartoon characters, ultimately they are recognisably, palpably human.

I also commend Stuart Phillips’ adroit, uncomplicated lighting and sound, the latter consisting almost exclusively of Gerald’s shop-door buzzer.

*[And now for a bit of a rant]:
I like sets.  Good ones, obviously.  I quite like the set in this show for instance; minimal and understated as it is, and call me a nerd, but I like to know who made them.  Especially when I like them.  Yet once again, for the fourth time or so in a row, I find the information not forthcoming in the programme.  It’s conceivable the director, or perhaps the collective company developed the set during the devising process.  It’s also conceivable it was created some other way.  There’s no way of knowing for sure when the design department is not credited. 

Is it a conspiracy – has John Verryt bought out the other set designers in town so only his name can be billed, like Mel Blanc reputedly did with the other Looney Tunes voice actors?  I jest of course, but seriously this set-design censorship has got to stop! 


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