Two Fish ’n’ a Scoop

The Forge at The Court Theatre, Christchurch

29/10/2010 - 27/11/2010

Production Details


Two actors take on a multitude of roles in Carl Nixon’s new play TWO FISH ’N’ A SCOOP, making its world première in The Forge at The Court Theatre on October 29.  

Set in a Chinese-owned fish-n-chips shop, TWO FISH ’N’ A SCOOP follows a blossoming romance between new employee Jason (Robbie Hunt) and the owner’s daughter, Rhea (Cassie Baker). However, their love is threatened by cultural and racial divides as well as pressure from family and friends – with all the characters played by Hunt and Baker.

TWO FISH ’N’ A SCOOP began as a short story, Fish ‘n’ Chip Shop Song (featured in a collection of the same name published in 2006). “The story really appealed to me and, after it was published and read out on Radio New Zealand National, the idea grew that it would work as a piece of theatre,” says Nixon. 

While TWO FISH ’N’ A SCOOP contains comic moments, at its heart the play examines some of the darker aspects of Kiwi culture. Nixon feels that “the theme of race, cultural integration and tolerance are perennial and important; the Paul Henry ‘real New Zealander’ affair highlights that. I believe that theatre should be dealing with important social issues.” 

Director Greg Cooper agrees that Nixon’s work “offers something new for Christchurch theatre.” Cooper praises both Hunt and Baker’s ability to seamlessly adopt a plethora of characters quickly, and calls the play “a tour-de-force” for the actors.

Artistic Director Ross Gumbley believes that TWO FISH ’N’ A SCOOP is “exactly the sort of play The Forge was created to bring to the stage – from its first reading as part of our FRESH INK series last year it was clear this was a play that challenges audiences even as it entertains.”

Cooper agrees with Gumbley’s sentiment. “We have a fantastic script, two incredible actors – simply put; this play is something quite special.”

TWO FISH ’N’ A SCOOP plays from October 29 until November 27.

The Forge at The Court Theatre,
20 Worcester Blvd, The Arts Centre, Christchurch
Friday 29 October – Saturday 27 November 2010
6:30pm Monday & Thursday; 8pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday.
No show Sundays.
Tickets: Adults $32, Seniors $27, Tertiary Students $22,
Group discount (10+) $22, 30Under-Club $15 (Mon-Wed)
Bookings: The Court Theatre,
20 Worcester Boulevard;
963 0870 or

Cassie Baker
Robbie Hunt

Set Design:  David Thornley
Lighting & Sound Design: Josh Major
Costume Design: Annie Graham
Stage Manager / Operator: Charlotte Thompson

Marvellous showcase of skill and invention

Review by Lindsay Clark 03rd Nov 2010

Appearing for the first time as a stage production, the basic material of this enterprising piece has been worked already as radio play, film and short story. Clearly it has something worthwhile to say and creative possibilities for the sayers.

Gregory Cooper and his team have a fine old time rendering it in theatrical terms, though whether the comedic highlights, enjoyable though they be, serve the playwright’s aspiration to deal with ‘important social issues’ as well in this medium was less evident to me.

Initially it seems we are headed for a standard Romeo and Juliet affair. Mr Chan, owner of a fish and chip shop, leaves his new employee, Jason, in no doubt as to what will happen should he make advances to Rhea, the feisty daughter, who parcels up the greasies with a dash of good cheer, unfazed by Friday night frenzy. The steamy atmosphere of the shop soon hatches romance however and Jason is smuggled upstairs to her bedroom before the plot thickens.

[Spoiler warning …] 
Under pressure from his crudely racist mates, he not only denies the relationship but is complicit in a yobbo ‘game’ of ‘Asian pinball’ where the human targets are jostled or even ‘bounced’ for point scoring. Meanwhile Mrs Chan, herself a Kiwi, confronts her now pregnant daughter, counselling abortion as the best way out of the cultural mismatch. Her own experience of marrying into a ‘different flock’ has not been happy.

Eventually it is Rhea who is strong enough to make a decisive break and head for wider experience, leaving Jason and his cosy fantasies behind. Surprisingly enough, the last scene belongs to the older couple, as the Chans begin to rediscover their compatibility, so that our last impression is of positive co-operation. […ends]

Plenty of opportunities, then, for the anatomy of intolerance to be laid out for us. No one is saintly and everyone is defending the relevant cultural patch in one way or another, whether by words or action or even passivity. The analysis is coloured, though, by richly worked humour and the audience spends more time laughing than pondering.

Occasional shocked gasps mark the home truths but mostly there is just delighted response to the versatility of the two energetic actors playing all roles and spontaneous chuckles at the interactions they engender.

The creative team meets the challenge of space and sound impeccably (David Thornley and Josh Major respectively), while Annie Graham supplies basic costumes able to work for all thirteen characters without time for changes.

For Cassie Baker and Robbie Hunt, the production is a marvellous showcase of skill and invention. Buoyed along by Nixon’s colourful script, they power through the emotional turmoil of events without sacrificing sensitivity or subtlety.

If the sharp edge of the original story is blunted in the sheer enjoyment of their performances, it is safe to say that the audience will not be in a mood for regrets.
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Home truths funny and easy to swallow

Review by Alan Scott 01st Nov 2010

Shark and taties has never tasted better. Indeed, the Forge’s latest offering gives a whole new meaning to Bertolt Brecht’s idea of culinary theatre. It is called Two Fish ‘n’ a Scoop and you won’t need any extra sauce.

There is more than enough in this play and this production to satisfy the most jaded theatre palate. To be sure, the fare on offer is so delicious you may want to come back for a second helping.

Two Fish ‘n’ a Scoop is a down-home title for a play which reveals some disquieting home town truths. Yet, while it might seem a Christchurch play down to its toes, its exploration of racism has universal resonance and its theme seemed particularly apt, given the recent Paul Henry fiasco.

Inside Chan’s fish and chip shop, we see New Zealand in microcosm through the eyes of thirteen disparate and sometimes desperate characters. New Zealand boy meets Eurasian girl across the counter and, from thenceforth, the path of interracial love is by no means smooth. 

But, through playwright Carl Nixon’s eyes it is funny; wickedly funny. You just can’t stop laughing.

All thirteen characters are played by two actors who deliver exceeding fine performances. Robbie Hunt shows his quality by turning himself into several different people in the opening minutes, just by rotating on the spot at high speed or changing seats. He never misses a beat. 

Cassie Baker, already giving a good account of herself as the shop owner’s daughter, brilliantly transforms into her Chinese father in one of those very special theatre moments.

Gregory Cooper had his hands full directing this play but he pulls it off marvellously. The production is an absolute gem. 
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. 


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