Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

15/04/2014 - 19/04/2014

Production Details

VICE – Bringing the darkness into the stark light.

A striking new New Zealand play opens at Auckland’s The Basement Theatre on 15 April. Featuring writing by prolific Auckland playwright Thomas Sainsbury (Supercity, Sunday Roast), actor and Shortland Street writer Dan Musgrove (No Holds Bard), reputable director and author of Baked and Confessions Benjamin Henson, and actor-turned-writer Jordan Mooney, VICE is a black comedy made up of nine tales of drug abuse, lovers, sex where it shouldn’t be, fame and much more.   

Featuring Stephen Lovatt (Anne Boleyn, Angels In America) like you have never seen him before, in an intimate space, a surgeon full of hate for his patients. Also starring Sam Snedden (Private Lives, The Pride), Jordan Mooney (Lord of the Flies, Anne Boleyn) and Jess Holly Bates (The Heretic, White Rabbit Red Rabbit).

The cast of VICE will be stepping out onto a boldly stark white stage – from top to bottom. The stage design for VICE has been daringly designed by up-and-comer Janusz Kaminski, and is complemented with lighting by the extraordinary Rachel Marlow. Chlöe Swarbrick, BFM host and creative director of The Lucid Collective, has designed the costumes.

Multimedia communication and a post-show Q&A with a panel of guests from the Psychology industry are all part of a production season that will rage across the city.

Rarely do audiences have the pleasure of seeing such a formidable team in a space as intimate as The Basement Studio.

VICE will see actors getting nasty…and leave audiences wanting to go home and get nasty themselves.

Dates: 15 – 19 April, 7pm
Where: The Basement Theatre Studio, Lower Greys Avenue, Auckland CBD
Bookings: or 0508ITICKET.

Theatre ,

1hr 10 mins (no interval)

Revels in abnormal behaviour

Review by Nik Smythe 16th Apr 2014

When a mysterious shadowy man with no face in a smart suit takes your ticket and directs you up a graffiti-art covered back stairway festooned with beer crates, wine bottle candles, exotic dolls and such, into a room with a stark white stage where the cast of seven lurk awkwardly and wistfully and so on, and the auditorium floor, walls and half the ceiling thickly papered with thousands of pages of advertising junk mail using sticky tape, it’s fair to assume that what ensues probably won’t be typical, usual or normal.  

Thus stairwell installation artist Chris Bryan and set designer John Kaminski literally set the scene for a septet of atypical, unusual and abnormal original monologues.  Ominously buzzing and flickering lightbulbs and Tom Waits house music contribute further to the sense of ideological unease. 

Breaking the ice, Tom Sainsbury’s Gareth concerns an outwardly genial Gareth (Andrew Ford) explaining his love for internet pornography.  Caught up in all his sociological reasoning and unnecessary graphic details to rationalise his position, he misses the real problem as I see it: the inability and/or unwillingness to relate to his own real and willing wife. 

Daniel Cresswell crashes over the end of Ford’s piece to bring us Max, the study – written by Dan Musgrove – of a proud and ambitious young lad addicted to his own humiliation.  Max’s stock in trade and selling point is that he’ll eat anything you dare him to and film it for the internet, just for the fame and the glorious ignominy.

Happy Meal by Benjamin Henson (also dramaturg for the other playwrights) features Sam Snedden as an entirely skittish young man who, suffering extreme anxiety from an early age, was ‘cured’ when his own mother took his stress relief into her own hands as it were.  As he relays his fairly pathetic story, his justification for their earlier deviant behaviour is as vehement as that for its violent and gruesome conclusion.

On the heels of that, Virginia Frankovich’s Play, as performed by Phoebe Mason, is something of a breath of fresh air.  Almost five, a little girl sings and skips about playing Barbies and sharing every little thought that comes into her head to anyone who’ll listen.  Her playful interpretations of things she obviously wasn’t meant to see in her parents’ bedroom are amusingly inappropriate, but not so much cause for concern or distress as with most of the others.

Case in point: in A Cupboard by Melissa K. Martin, spurned would-be lover Lauren Gibson, ready for anything in her nightie and red lipstick, dubiously attempts to validate her reprehensible treatment of her unrequited beau with her favourite Robert Frost truism: “We love the things we love for what they are.”  Supposedly this makes anything okay, provided it’s in the name of love. 

Colin Garlick’s Belle has Amanda Tito presenting a wholly disturbing portrait of a young woman, eldest of five children, who from the age of twelve took on many of her mother’s responsibilities after she passed away; at least one responsibility too many as it turns out.  After all that’s occurred by the time she’s telling us about it, Belle maintains it’s better to be ‘taught about life’ by your own family than by some stranger you don’t even know. 

The short anthology concludes with director Jordan Mooney playing a flippantly volatile crackhead in Peter Pipe by Anthony James.  Flipping between abusive and apologetic, he aggressively entreats us not to judge him for his inebriant of choice, too far gone to be able to see that it’s not so much his drug preference as the obnoxious hostile ranting it causes that we’re put off by. 

Performances are of a high standard overall, brimming with youthful energy and truthful delivery.  Snedden’s courageously performed hapless son-of-a-mother is a highly-strung highlight, and Mason’s incorrigible little girl successfully eschews the creepiness potential of a grown woman playing a nearly-five-year-old, instead winning over our hearts with what is arguably the least abominable character in the lineup. 

The entire cast is onstage for the duration and remain in character throughout, even for the curtain call, as if in purgatory awaiting their final judgment.  While the blurb promises to “challenge your perceptions of good and bad and perhaps make your wrongs rights”, there’s no ostensible moral being actively promoted by the company either for or against these unfortunate specimens of misguided humanity.

I can’t say my previously held views pertaining to the issues addressed in Vice have been altered at all, but it’s noteworthy that none of these people regard themselves to be as distinctly unbalanced as they clearly are.  There is some awareness of how society views them and their aberrant behaviour, but they generally seem to feel it’s society’s problem, not theirs. 

On the surface Vice is an anthology of one-player comedies, and well may you laugh, long and loud.  Then you might just want to go home for a long shower with extra-coarse pumice.


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Review by James Wenley 16th Apr 2014

For the past few weeks, Jordan Mooney has been posting a series of clips promoting a range of different vices. The crazy-eyed front man has whipped himself, walked naked in the wilderness, shoved his face in a toilet bowl, and lit his hair on fire. 

Turns out these are child plays compared to some of the predilections in Vice, a sophisticated monologue show pairing seven writers with seven actors*, and assembled by Director Jordan Mooney (who also acts as crack fiend Peter Pipe) and dramaturg Benjamin Henson (whose work Confessions, the style and content remind me of). “You’re allowed one vice” Belle, played by Amanda Tito, states in the second to last monologue, and the writers take us into some dark and disturbing territory as each character’s vice is revealed. [More]


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