Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

28/02/2013 - 02/03/2013

Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

18/02/2014 - 22/02/2014

Playhouse Theatre, Dunedin

18/03/2014 - 22/03/2014

The Office at CBD Bar, 208 Madras St, Christchurch

13/03/2014 - 15/03/2014

People’s Cinema, 57 Manners Street, Wellington

26/02/2014 - 01/03/2014

NZ Fringe Festival 2014

Auckland Fringe 2013

Production Details


Get ready for the visual and comedic feast of the fringe from the winners of ‘Best Comedy’ at 2011 Auckland Fringe: Velcro City at The Basment Theatre, 7pm from the 26th February – 2nd of March . This live-action cartoon follows the lives of citizens in a city held together by hooks and hoops with the entire set and costumes drawn in wicked Crayola felt-tips. Eli and Hamish don onesie jumpsuits covered in Velcro strips to portray dozens of characters in the story of a city turned on its head in just under 60mins!

Eli and Hamish originally hail from Christchurch where they performed together for several years as members of the Court Jesters. Eli trained as an actor at UNITEC, with highlights including playing Lavinia in an all male production of Titus Andronichus, and has also built a strong reputation as a stand-up comedian – he performs regularly as part of FanFiction Comedy and is also a nominee for the Billy T Award in 2013.

Hamish is a video director, cartoonist, writer and performer who has worked up and down the country in a verity of roles and positions since finishing his Fine Arts Degree at Canterbury University. As a duo they won ‘Best Comedy’ at the last Auckland Fringe for their show ‘Square Eye Pair’, which went on to travel to the Edinburgh Fringe in 2012 under the guidance of Rhys Darby and Awesomeness International.

“a sweetly whimsical hour” –

“Mathewson and Parkinson are a delight to watch”– Ben Blakely,

“a hilarious double act” – Keeping up with NZ

“the fun they’re clearly having is infectious, palpable, and an utter joy to watch” –

“You must see it” – the script

Auckland Fringe runs from 15 February to 10 March 2013. For more Auckland Fringe information go to

26th February – 2nd March 2013, 7pm
Duration: 60mins
Venue: The Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD
Tickets: $16/14
Bookings: iTicket –  or 09 361 100009 361 1000 

*’Best Comedy 2011 – Square Eye Pair, Best Comedy 2013 – Velcro City

Velcro City plays
18th – 22nd February 2014 @ 7.30pm
The Basement Theatre
Tickets $15 online, $20 doorsales

as part of the New Zealand Fringe
26th Feb – 1st March 2014 at 8.30pm
People’s Cinema
Entry by koha on door 

In Christchurch, 2014:
13th – 15th March @ 7.30pm
The Office at CBD Bar
$15 doorsales only

as part of the Dunedin Fringe 2014
March 18, 19, 20, 21, 22
The Playhouse Theatre 
6:00 pm
60 min
Online Tickets: $12
Door Sales: $15 
Dash Tickets (0800 327 484) 

– See more at:  

Written and performed by Eli Matthewson and Hamish Parkinson.

Directed by Nic Sampson (assisted by Laura Daniel, 2013 season directed by Dan Bain)

Narrated by Jacquie Brown

Lighting Desing and Op by Andrew Potuin

Produced by Delia Cormack

Poster Design by Chye-Ling Huang

Theatre , Comedy ,


A joy to watch

Review by Patrick Davies 19th Mar 2014

Velcro City is “the most German town” in New Zealand and is a great riff on Rural Kiwi, similar in vein to Little Britain. Full of characters formed from caricature but given depth by the two performers on stage it starts with the unveiling of the new town slogan – “Smells Like Community” – and, through a series of unfortunate and seemingly unrelated events, ends up somewhere else altogether. 

The show is like a ‘Harold’: a type of long form improv where performers riff of a subject creating a myriad of narrative lines and characters, slowly bringing them together towards a climax. Looking at the programme (velcroed to the theatre wall so you can take and return), I see a number of names from Auckland’s SNORT, the improv troupe currently at the Basement Theatre. So it’s no surprise that writers, designers and performers, Hamish Parkinson and Eli Matthewson, bring a hefty dose of skill in the narrative and performance of Velcro City

Imagine, if you will, two dolls onto which you can slap simple cardboard illustrations, be they hair, clothes, props, etc. While not a beautifully poetic as, say, Indian Ink’s mask work, it’s damn entertaining and inventive. Each character gets their own ‘look’, clearly defining their parodical nature, and the Velcro allows quick changes for smooth story-telling.

Part of the joy is watching the guys flow through the story, from character to character, with ease if not a little sweat. But they don’t stop there; during the show there are some wonderfully articulated performance surprises with the ways they create characters that I won’t spoil here. This season has been tightly directed by Nic Sampson, from a previous iteration by Dan Bain, so it’s a little hard to attribute when these developments arrived but they are genius. 

Part cartoon, this show is all Fringe. Simple, inventive, funny, it’s a show that presents us back at ourselves. It reflects our ideas around fame, from the Auckland band Rubicon to the large star who was recently involved in the Grammys (appearing at the Okey Dokey Musical Festival to celebrate the unveiling), and our interactions with each other: aged couples, young couples, broken couples, differing couples – how they are their own small community with each other and how they make up the wider community, if allowed. 

A joy to watch – go!


Editor March 19th, 2014

Sorry Ralph, my bad - fixed now.

Ralph McCubbin Howell March 19th, 2014

Cheers for the great review! NB. This write up is actually for the current season in Dunedin. Details as follows:

The Playhouse Theatre
Dunedin Fringe 2014
March 18-22
6:00 pm [60 min]

Online Tickets: $12
Door Sales: $15 
Dash Tickets (0800 327 484)

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Bloody funny big little show

Review by Erin Harrington 15th Mar 2014

Velcro City (pop. 8000, slogan: Smells Like Community) is a little slice of parochial, small-town New Zealand that’s brought to life thorough the quick wits and able artistic talents of Hamish Parkinson and Eli Matthewson. The town – the “most German” town in New Zealand – loves its signature lavender fields and is preparing for the upcoming Okey Dokey music festival, but little do they know the whole thing is about to be derailed by a series of unfortunate and interconnected events. 

Hamish and Eli portray a broad cross-section of Velcro City’s inhabitants including an elderly couple who keep falling asleep because of the soporific effects of the nearby lavender fields, a moustachioed divorcé and his wayward toddler, a handful of earnest and gormless teens, a brusque bus driver, the blokesy populist mayor and his magnificent comb-over, and a pair of lesbian vegan café owners who are much reviled by the other townspeople but who ultimately provide the solution to the town’s problems.

While many of these cartoonish characters are broad stereotypes, they are all rendered with affection and some deft physical and vocal work. Cheery voiceovers from Jacquie Brown punctuate and drive the story forward and add to the storybook atmosphere. 

The characters’ paper costumes and props have been drawn and decorated with some mean felt tip pen work by the two performers, and these pieces are attached to them by way of patches of Velcro that adorn their ridiculous black jumpsuits and white sweatbands. It’s a nifty trick and it makes for some wicked sight gags, but it’s all in aid of story and character.

While the show is a gentle poke at small-town New Zealand (and our preconceptions about small-town New Zealand), it also looks at the nature of Kiwi ‘celebrity’. Running gags about musicians Kimbra and Rubicon, and Eleanor Catton’s The Luminaries (and whether or not anyone as actually read it), are highlights.

This show has been performed in a few different incarnations now and it has clearly benefited from ongoing development. While each character gets their moment in the sun, the myriad threads of the story all come together in a well-constructed and satisfying manner.

Hamish and Eli make a formidable team, and the swift character and location changes are precise and clearly rendered. The sense that we are not just watching these characters, but the performers as these characters, also adds to the show’s appeal. It’s a bit like a Kiwiana Portlandia, or a less grim The League of Gentlemen.

I really like Velcro City’s low-budget rough and ready ethos, and it highlights the fact that you don’t need stuff to do stuff, just a strong idea and a geyser of enthusiasm. There are minimal technical elements, just a handful of lights and some well-designed sound. The venue – the ‘office space’ above the CBD Bar in central Christchurch – is pretty much a large, empty room, so while noise from the bar below filters up, it all adds to a pleasant, ad hoc sort of atmosphere. 

This is a great little show that’s big on concept and laughs. Give these guys a TV show already: they’re bloody funny.


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“I liked all of it the best.”

Review by Hannah August 27th Feb 2014

Velcro City is the kind of show you hope will turn up at the Fringe, and all too rarely does. It’s clever, funny, engaging, and koha. Given that they won Best Comedy at the Auckland Fringe with this show last year, Eli Matthewson and Hamish Parkinson could easily have got away with charging for their Wellington season – their brand of skilfully inventive humour deserves the price of a ticket far more than some of the other shows I’ve seen this Fringe.  

On the makeshift stage of the People’s Cinema, Matthewson and Parkinson embody the residents of the prosaically named Velcro City, changing characters at speed with the aid of hand-drawn cardboard costumes, which they peel on and off the strips of velcro adorning their neutral onesies (keep an eye out in particular for the bus driver).

Velcro City  (“known widely as NZ’s most ‘German’ city”), pop. 8000, is peopled with small-town New Zealand stereotypes: behind-the-times geriatrics, self-serving local politicians, obnoxious high school students, ostracised vegan lesbians. These are presented with perceptive yet tender mockery, and the narrative within which they exist – very broadly, about saving the town through community spirit – is silly in the best kind of way. More importantly, it’s also satisfyingly tightly constructed, particularly in its later reincorporation of early plot elements.

Topical references indicate that Matthewson and Parkinson have reworked this show – I thought the running gag involving unfinished copies of The Luminaries might get tired, but in fact it’s sustained effectively and the imaginative rewriting of the novel to feature a central character called Loomintroll gets one of the biggest laughs the night I attend.

It’s sometimes hard to find positive things to say in a Fringe show review – in the case of Velcro City I’m pleased to find I agree with the eight-year-old sitting in front of me, who, when queried about his favourite parts of the show, replied simply: “I liked all of it the best.” 

Go along, give generously, don’t take your eight-year-olds unless you’re confident they won’t ask you awkward questions about pornography and homophobia afterwards, and have a great night out.


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Stuck on you

Review by James Wenley 20th Feb 2014

Eli Matthewson and Hamish Parkinson are endearing performers, and also rather talented doodlers. 

In two hander shows where actors play multiple characters, some shows will trust the actors to indicate character changes through physicality and voice, others might make a comic virtue out of rapid costume changes. These guys go one step better. The main charm of Velcro City is the assortment of low budget costumes and accessories they have created out of paper, felts, and of course velcro. [More]


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Priceless energetic humour

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 19th Feb 2014

Velcro City is my first ‘live-action cartoon’ experience. I’m impressed. 

In the hands of hyper-animated Velcro-clad Eli Matthewson and Hamish Parkinson, the hour is a spin of eclectic tales following the lives of citizens in a mythical city, German in origin yet familiar in nature.

A bundle of characters grapple with daily challenges. It’s loaded with great physical and verbal slap-stick. At times it’s a bit like a wild ride from Glee on speed, or a 3D romp with Dr Seuss.

Written, designed and performed by Eli and Hamish, the lads’ unique world bleeds into the foyer, with individualised hand-written programmes, Velcro-ed to a board, which we are free to borrow for the hour, then return. 

There’s also a competition involving pens, paper and Facebook: a great blend of old fashioned stuff and social media, crafted by two fine young minds of the now. Tino pai. 

Hamish has a face that’s just made for comedy. He is particularly brilliant playing the characters of ‘baby’; Suzie the uber-confident school gal who is, in every way, the centre of her own universe; and the try-hard, over-enthusiastic and sleazy Mayor. Eli is his perfect complement, oozing likable charm. As the lovesick schoolboy chump, he’s delicious. Together, they are a dynamic team.

The soothing yet informative tones of Jaquie Brown’s occasional voice-over narrate us through a wacky romp that includes newly-laid council funded lavender fields (who knew they could be so contentious); moving around the local landscape via letters to the editor; an aspiring young politician with an exciting event to present; a teen crush; a vegan café with an angry vibe; and a new city logo/slogan.

With a bare stage and only the magic of pens, paper and Velcro to stick everything together, Eli and Hamish’s bustling energy and enthusiasm bring the city’s characters to life (including a fabulous angry mob), brilliantly. I can see why Rhys Darby is such an avid fan of these two.  

Occasionally, some characterisations and punch lines feel a tad lame, or labour the point just a bit too long. But overall, Velcro City showcases notable depth through seemingly flippant wit. A sign of more good stuff to come from these two. 

The dialogue races along: At times it’s hard for an ole gal to keep up. But for the most part, I am in synch with their cheeky humour. Kimbra (NZ’s other and near-forgotten Grammy winner), Paul Reid’s Rubicon (would-be forgotten band from the 90s), Stellar (another band from the 90s), libraries with more devices than books, postal services that seldom post, Simon Barnett’s favourite bedtime story and the reoccurring reference to getting through The Luminaries (awkwardly, never fully read it seems) are all up for comedic grabs.

When the stories combine for an inevitable chase across town and a race to fulfil a task against time and encroaching danger (with a bit of twisted, re-mixed paper-looping from Kimbra along the way), it’s all very funny.

Will a thriving, closer community be the winner on the day? Perhaps – just as long as Carl’s Jr doesn’t take over.

I’d love to see what these two multi-talented writers/performers would do with a generous production budget, to match their priceless energetic humour. 


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Confident, committed, comic timing

Review by Hannah Smith 26th Feb 2013

Hamish Parkinson and Eli Matthewson were last seen on NZ Fringe stages with Square Eye Pair, a bromantic comedy about television, pop culture and the comic possibilities of couches.  It won a bunch of Best Comedy fringe awards, and they took it over to the Edinburgh Fringe Festival.  

Their latest offering, Velcro City, is a fast and funny comedy set in a small NZ town of the same name. Set and costumes are affixed to the walls and actors with Velcro, and swift costume and scene changes are a challenge to the performers – sticky situations, you might say.

There is a plot in there: Velcro City is beset by the winds of change; new ideas in the form of politics, sexuality, diet and pop music, are causing ructions in the community …

But the pleasure of this show is in its presentation, and the excellent dynamic between the two performers. Parkinson and Matthewson are a slick team, with an easy camaraderie and a confident, committed comic timing.  They are a delight to watch. 

The Velcro set and costume pieces, made by the actors, set the tone of the world: cheap, cheerful and a wee bit childish.  This belies the sophistication of the design, though. It takes no mean skill to colour in something large with felt pens (you have to do all the lines in the same direction or it looks weird) and finding inventive ways to use and surprise with the pieces keeps the design engaging and integrated. 

I must admit I wanted someone to have their Velcro clothes or moustache ripped from their body at some point, but you can’t have everything. 

Moustache ripping aside, there are some solid gold moments. I particularly enjoyed the bus driver and bus ride, and the butch/femme couple who run the vegan café also provided a heap of lols.

In terms of content, the script would benefit from further development.  The production feels stuck between improv and playtext – some of the best moments are when something goes wrong.  Accidentally kicking a prop, or a costume piece sliding sideways, prompt the performers – both adept improvisers – to display their ability to adapt on the fly.

The initial story set up seems arbitrary: why are we in this Velcro City? What are these lavender fields? Some more careful weight and structuring of the material that is reincorporated at the end would allow for more pay off. 

There is not the same character depth as in Square Eye Pair, though the show has the same joyful parody and espousal of pop culture references.  I think with further development, and time in front of an audience, the writing can evolve to be as good as the performances. 

Well worth a look. 


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