Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

21/02/2017 - 25/02/2017

BATS Theatre, The Propeller Stage, 1 Kent Tce, Wellington

02/03/2017 - 11/03/2017

Auckland Fringe 2017

Production Details


Following award-winning seasons at the 2015 Melbourne Fringe and Adelaide Fringe We May Have to Choose makes its New Zealand debut at the Auckland Fringe from 21-25 February before heading to NZ Fringe in Wellington from 2-11 March 2017. 

Inspired by Tim Etchells’ Sight is the Sense, Emma Hall (Australia) performs a poetic study of the personal soapbox and a fantastical ride through the subconscious mind.

We May Have to Choose is a darkly humorous piece of new writing that asks: in a dying world, what is it to speak one’s mind? Emma Hall from Australia has written and will perform in this one-woman poetic study of the personal soapbox. Wildly popular with audiences and critics alike, the show has received eight award nominations and won three awards over its fringe festival seasons in Edinburgh, Perth, Brisbane, Adelaide and Melbourne.

In today’s western democracies, free speech is often divisive and morally ambiguous. But when one woman lists 621 of her worldly opinions in one go – opinions about hot water systems, for a start, but also about homelessness, the Loch Ness Monster, Russian diets, Kylie Minogue, and economics – we are offered a riveting and genuinely unique opportunity to reflect on the way we live our lives.

We May Have to Choose sees Melbourne-based kiwi director Prue Clark (two-time Green Room nominee for Reasons to Stay Inside and Dropped) shape Emma Hall’s stunning solo performance of this fantastical ride through the subconscious mind. Accompanied by a musical score by indie-electric folk artist SS. Sebastian (Brett Harris), this international fringe favourite is a funny, withering, and moving piece about the fallibility of thought in our quest to solve the riddles of our world.

WINNER 2015 Melbourne Festival Discovery Award
WINNER 2015 Melbourne Fringe WA Tour Ready Award
WINNER 2015 Adelaide Fringe Best Theatre – Weekly Award

★★★★★“5/5 – beautifully simple, intensely clever… intimate, funny, honest and unlike anything I’ve seen at the Fringe this year” – ThreeWeeks

★★★★ ““Brain-prodding, riveting theatre… genius” Anne Marie-Peard, The Age

★★★★ “(Hall) wields her words like a fencing champion, swinging effortlessly from thought to thought, leading the audience until she lands a powerful strike right in the guts… We May Have to Choose … painfully reflects the way we engage with information, opinion and socio-political issues in the contemporary world of globalised, socialised media.” Fiona Spitzkowsky, Theatrepeople

We May Have to Choose plays:

Auckland Fringe
Basement Theatre
21 – 25 February, various times
Tickets from http://www.basementtheatre.co.nz/

NZ Fringe Festival
BATS Theatre, Wellington
2-4, 7-11 March at 8.30pm
Tickets from https://bats.co.nz/

Theatre , Spoken word , Comedy ,

45 mins

Choose to Listen

Review by Rachael Longshaw-Park 05th Mar 2017

It is difficult to write about We May Have to Choose since there is no way you can possibly describe the effortlessly fluid experience of sitting in front of Emma Hall for just under and hour not even noticing the minutes tick by. Lack of conventional structure helps to create this feeling. But more than that, we are organically drawn into her discourse from the very beginning by the silent presentation that dictates two simple rules:

You (audience) must not speak.

I (performer) must speak to you.

Through this we know we must be present and listen as best as we can. And listen we do. [More


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Beautifully poetic posing of the proposition: we are what we think

Review by Cassandra Tse 03rd Mar 2017

Universal truth is a matter of opinion in We May Have to Choose, a poetic litany of personal statements delivered stream-of-consciousness style by writer/performer Emma Mary Hall. Fresh off a tour of Australian Fringe Festivals and a stint in Edinburgh, this solo show directed by Prue Clark is a meditation on the ‘personal’ in ‘personal opinion’ – but not quite a political call to action. 

After a silent prologue communicated through handwritten placards, Hall begins the show by asserting that gas water heaters are superior to electric water heaters. More statements of opinion, belief or judgement – three distinct concepts, according to Hall – follow on from this and form the body of the show, with Hall offering her thoughts on topics ranging from environmentalism to whether or not baristas can be trusted.

In the hands of a less engaging performer, We May Have to Choose could feel like a lecture. Instead, Hall speaks with a naked vulnerability that can be by turns sobering and wryly funny. Hall and Clark have chosen to eschew the defensiveness or even aggression that often accompanies the act of expressing a deeply felt opinion; instead Hall is firm but gentle, placing no greater weight on thoughts about rape than on those about toasters. Each succinct sentence is an exercise in elegant simplicity. 

Amelia Lever-Davidson’s clean, minimalist design consists of a white paper backdrop on a raised platform, with a table lamp and a white water bottle on either side of the performer. Clark’s staging within this physical environment is expressive, even if Hall’s movements sometimes appear unmotivated. Hall raises one hand, as if asking a question in class; she jerks her whole body about in puppet-like motion; she crouches in the corner, holding the table lamp over her head. These movements are visually interesting and help to structure the monologue into smaller sections, but it is never clear whether these sections are supposed to have some kind of uniting theme or if the monologue is merely divided at random. 

The strength of We May Have to Choose lies in its articulation of the opinion as an essential part of humanity. Ultimately, the show is a character portrait in which the character is the performer: with each statement of personal truth, Hall reveals more of herself. We May Have to Choose is a celebration of our opinions, which, though they may be fluid and contradictory, are the building blocks of our selfhood.

As an exploratory look at the shifting ideas that make up identity, then, this play is successful. However, the more overtly topical content in the show and in the writer’s note implies that Clark and Hall intend this show to be politically provocative, and here it is less effective.

Many elements of Hall’s monologue touch on topical and political issues and some might argue that the very act of delivering a stream of uninterrupted opinions before an audience for fifty minutes as a woman performer constitutes a political act, as ‘opinionated women’ are still targets of societal condemnation.

And yet, in front of the BATS audience – a group that is typically politically informed and staunchly left-wing – Hall’s thoughts on climate change or the Manus Island detention centres are hardly controversial. When Hall follows her curtain call by inviting the audience to meet her in the lobby to argue with her about anything they disagreed with, I can’t imagine her encountering anything more combative than a good-natured ribbing about some of her more facetious opinions (“Actually, Emma, I think cider is better than beer.”)

Everyone in the room agrees that the Australian offshore detention centres for refugees are a disgusting blight on Australia’s human rights record – having Hall say as much, in far less emotive terms, is merely preaching to the choir. I’d like to see how We May Have to Choose would play with a more resistant audience; one that might actually bristle at some of Hall’s more politically charged thoughts.

As a play that seeks to be about a lot of things – some of which “work against each other”, as Hall states in her writer’s note – perhaps it is in inevitable that We May Have to Choose shines brighter in some contexts than others. Despite its imperfections as political theatre, this play is a beautifully poetic piece about how our thoughts make us who we are – or maybe that’s just my opinion. 


Cassandra Tse March 3rd, 2017

Better, thanks

John Smythe March 3rd, 2017


Cassandra Tse March 3rd, 2017

Hi John, Cassandra here - I don't think the title you've given to my review makes sense?

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Thought provoking, often funny and illuminating

Review by Heidi North 26th Feb 2017

I think therefore I am … but am I right? Are these beliefs, facts, prejudices or opinions? And how do I know? Delving into these questions is the premise of We May Have to Choose.

Written and performed by Emma Hall, and directed by Prue Clark, We may have to choose is pitch perfect, free-flowing, tumbling, illuminating ride through a subconscious mind; what the show’s promotional material calls “a personal soapbox”. It is award-winning (2015 Melbourne and Adelaide Fringe), compelling theatre.

“The planet is dying are we are ok with that. Romance is just around the corner, so are rapists.”

What is more important: talking about men being beaten to death in an Australian-run off-shore detention centre, or deciding between gas or electric ovens? These things are both unrelated and deeply related. And this is the genius of Hall’s show.

The show does feel at times very Australian. It’s to be expected, being written for an Australian audience. There are a few concessions made to it being staged in NZ, but this feels a bit uneven. And while some specifics don’t land so well with an NZ audience, there is more than enough to carry the show here. Perhaps no attempts to change the Australian context would make it stronger. 

Hall is a master of her material. The 45-minute monologue of Hall simply standing on a blank white background, basically telling us one-line beliefs could be long. It isn’t. The pacing is enhanced with excellent lighting and soundscapes. It’s not always comfortable, but it’s slick and compelling theatre.

We may have to choose is brilliant Fringe theatre: thought provoking, often funny and illuminating. It reminds us, in a world of click-bait adverting, slacktivism, online petitions, global warming, Trump and post-truth journalism: we may, actually, have to choose.  


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