Otago Corrections Facility, 62 Narrowdale Road, Milton, Dunedin

28/03/2019 - 28/03/2019

Dunedin Fringe 2019

Production Details

Using forum theatre techniques, Trouble-D will take you on a journey through the life of a recently released prisoner.

Exploring strategies on how to deal with challenges, obstacles and enticements they face in the outside world after a long period of incarceration.

All proceeds will go to the Dunedin Night Shelter.

The venue is at the Otago Corrections Facility. All visitors will go through security processes and require pre-approval. To register please email:

Otago Corrections Facility, 62 Narrowdale Road, Milton, Dunedin  
THU 28 March 2019
All visitors will go through security processes and require pre-approval.
To register please email
*Fees may apply

Theatre ,

2 hrs

Breaks down the boundaries

Review by Kimberley Buchan 29th Mar 2019

This will not be an ordinary review. Trouble-D is a piece of forum theatre created by residents of the Otago Corrections Facility (OCF). This means the actors are not able to be identified, and will be referred to by an initial.  

This piece of theatre is an exercise in empathy as the audience are actors too and through this get to experience the tiniest sliver of what it might be like for the main actors. The experience begins long before the performance as the audience must register and be approved to visit the performance venue in the whare of OCF. Upon arrival we are lead through security checks, much like the airport.

Friendly staff guide us to the performance venue, which contains a professional looking set. Three different scenes are depicted, a lounge, an office and an impressive multi-level set at the back with bunk beds and toilet delineating a cell. Next time, when setting up the audience consideration to sight lines would allow the audience to see every single piece of action on stage.  Ruth Ratcliffe, the director, facilitates the event and runs us briskly and energetically through a warm up which breaks the ice nicely.

The actors take the stage for the first run of their play. This has been devised as a group, but lead actor S has also formalised the work into a script. The narrative follows the character Ty upon his release from prison. He encounters family, parole officers, potential employers and frenemies. In their own way, each is an obstacle to Ty’s success and he ends up back where his cellmate predicted, in prison.  

SP from Wellington plays Ty’s father as a gruff and uncompromising man who is done with chances and excuses from his son. SP has a genuine way about him on stage and brings to life an easily recognisable character from our society. P plays the ruthless drug dealing friend from Ty’s past. The way P portrays him makes him a legitimate threat to Ty’s goals, offering telling phrases such as “You saying you too good for us now?” N plays the prophetic cell mate and gets several good laughs from the audience. T multiroles as the parole officer and the owner of Tane’s Landscaping. He is good at leading the audience on and then dashing Ty’s hopes.

Ty himself is played by S with an earnest strength. A character like Ty in educational theatre often comes across as trite, but S gives his reactions and his phrasing credible authenticity.  All these actors have big personalities that translate well into solid stage presence. They are well rehearsed and focused in the first round and have good comic timing which the audience responds to warmly. Certain members of the cast are only allowed out of their units for two hours a day, and the audience is grateful they have chosen to spend this valuable time with us.

The audience now splits off into groups to discuss what Ty could have done differently at each stage of his release. It is intriguing watching groups of strangers enthusiastically discuss how to approach a job interview with a prison sentence in your job history.

Round two of the performance begins, with the audience freezing the action at will and taking over roles to try and change the outcome for Ty. The actors relax into this round, reacting beautifully to the audience. They are all quick witted and fast on their feet and have the audience shouting with laughter.

Ratcliffe made an excellent choice in using forum theatre as the style of this show as it breaks down the boundaries with the audience to the point where the entire room is willing Ty to succeed and several times bursting out in spontaneous cheers when he does so. Ratcliffe is a force to be reckoned with and an asset to OCF. I hope she achieves her goal and creates the theatre company of her dreams.

Otago Corrections Facility are to be commended for allowing this performance to take place. Permitting the actors to participate in the Dunedin Fringe Festival is a huge vote of confidence in their abilities. It also lets the audience walk in their shoes for a little while and this helps to break down real world stereotyping which underpins a lot of the issues Ty encounters while trying to rebuild his life on the outside. Support networks are often mentioned in the show as a vital force for reintegration. As a result of this performance, the actors now have a brand new support network of everyone they reached out to in the audience. 


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