Up the Duff

Allen Hall Theatre, University of Otago, Dunedin

16/08/2018 - 17/08/2018

Production Details

Up The Duff is about three women of three different ages, Janelle who is 17, Helen is who 27, and Ruby who is 37. They each get pregnant and have different reactions. Janelle is excited to be having her second child despite the doctors’ judgements, Helen feels frustrated and annoyed, and Ruby is jubilant after trying for many years. The three women each deal with the reactions of their family and peers (all played by the same three actors) in different ways as the play chronicles their lives for their 9 respective months of pregnancy.

University of Otago Honours student Zoe Davies (29), in collaboration with University of Otago Theatre Studies Programme presents Up The Duff by New Zealand playwright and Dunedin local, Sarah McDougall.

Last year, Davies had the honour of being the assistant director of Benjamin Henson’s Twelfth Night as part of the Theatre Studies and Fortune Theatre Collaboration which won Best Theatre in the Dunedin Theatre Awards 2017.

Of Davies’ three woman cast, is Rosie Dunn (27) having recently finished her run of the successful Globe Theatre production of John Millington’s Riders to the Sea directed by Martin Swann.

Joining Dunn are two talented Theatre Studies students: Virginia Sanders (19) from Abby Forrester’s D20, one of last year’s Lunchtime Theatre productions; and Charlotte Brewer (19) who played Nancy in this year’s Annual OUSA Capping Show: Scarfie Things, directed by Shaun Swain and Nick Tipa. These three women play a multitude of characters during the 45 minute long play under Zoe Davies’ direction.

Davies describes the play in the Lunchtime Theatre programme as “A play about three women, three pregnancies and three very different ways to feel about becoming a mum […] A bun in the oven; with child, knocked up; preggers; in the family way’ UP THE DUFF! When those little lines turn blue what will you do!?” The play is a 45 minute comedy/slice-of-life/drama focusing on three main characters, with the three actors filling in other side character roles – each revealing their thoughts, feelings, and experiences during their respective pregnancies.

This production is part of Zoe Davies’ Honours programme, having spent the year being taught under Lisa Warrington, Martyn Roberts, Amanda Faye Martin, and Stuart Young of the Department of Music, Theatre, and Performing Arts; as well as mentor Jonathan Hendry.


16th August 1pm/7pm
17th August 1pm
Allen Hall Theatre, Leith Walk, North Dunedin
Door Sales: $5 Waged; $3 Unwaged

Presented by The University of Otago Theatre Studies Programme

Theatre , Comedy ,

Laughter with depth

Review by Kate Timms-Dean 19th Aug 2018

The University of Otago Theatre Studies production of Up the Duff, written by Sarah McDougall, is irreverant, deep and side-splittingly funny. Warming up the cast and the audience with a round of ‘Barbie Girl’ by Aqua sets the pace, with the story ducking between belly-chuckling laughter and deep despair as we are swept up.

Starring a cast of three – Virginia Sanders (Janelle), Charlotte Brewer (Helen) and Rosie Dunn (Ruby) – the cast displays a range of personas over the 60-minute performance, filling out the story with a mirrored shatter of personalities. Stellar performances by all three stars convey these charcters to the audience in crystal clarity, using variations in stance, vocals and delivery to communicate each one with precision. These are characters that you love and care about within moments of their story beginning. They are funny, honest, human.

Music is a key element, enhancing the story’s prismatic effect as three lives, three pregnancies are revealed, experienced and terminated in one form or another. Experiences of impending motherhood that many will recognise are examined and explored, from internal examinations to pelvic floor exercises and astronomical sex: nothing is off limits. This is exhilarating!

With irreverant humour and fantastic characterisation, Up the Duff delivers boundless laughter, pensive and isolating reflection, and a deep exploration of relationships, pregnancy and birth. The challenges grappled by each character creates a scatter of sensations – love, laughter and sadness.

Director Zoe Davies has demonstrated her keen ability as a storyteller and delivered a little bundle of joy in keeping with the quaint atmosphere of the Allen Hall Theatre. If you’re looking for laughter with depth and delivery in spades, this performance has it all.


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