Well Hung

Maidment Theatre, Auckland

10/02/2011 - 05/03/2011

Production Details

Fawlty Towers meets Fred Dagg in Auckland Theatre Company’s revival of the Kiwi retro classic WELL HUNG, which opens the 2011 season on February 10 at the Maidment Theatre.

Robert Lord was the first Kiwi playwright to successfully cater to a local audience’s appetite for comedies that satirised recognisable New Zealand stereotypes and events; a genre of comedy that has subsequently been pursued by Roger Hall and Dave Armstrong with great success.

Starring Pua Magasiva, Adam Gardiner, Dena Kennedy and Simon Ferry as the feisty inhabitants a small rural town shaken by a double murder in the midst of the Blossom Festival, WELL HUNG pokes fun at bungled police procedures.

All hell breaks loose when a media hungry big city detective (Carl Bland) arrives determined to solve the case.

Everyone in town knows Wally did it, pure and simple. But life at the local cop-shop is seldom pure and never simple.

Trev, the junior constable, has got himself in a mess with Lynette, the sergeant’s wife, and the doyenne of the local Drama Society has her eye on Detective Sharp as she snoops around for material to use in her new romance novel.


With mistaken identities, police cock-ups and more broom-cupboard action than Boris Becker could dream of, WELL HUNG is deliciously funny, furious, farcical Kiwi comedy at its best.

“This heartland farce is a forgotten gem of Kiwi playwrighting. The unsolved murder of Jeannette and Harvey Crewe was the impulse for WELL HUNG — but Lord delights in satirising people who think they’re totally in control of a situation but in reality are thoroughly incompetent,” says Colin McColl, Auckland Theatre Company’s artistic director.

“It’s Ortonesque, sexy, irreverent and very, very funny” says McColl.

WELL HUNG By Robert Lord
Maidment Theatre 
February 10 – March 5 
Previews February 10-11 
Opening night February 12
Mon-Wed shows 6.30pm 
Thur-Sat shows 8pm | Sun shows 4pm 
Matinee Saturday February 26, 2pm 

Tickets for WELL HUNG are available at the Maidment Theatre, 09 309 0390 or www.atc.co.nz 

Simon Ferry:  Sergeant Bert Donelly
Pua Magasiva:  Constable Trev Brown
Carl Bland:  Detective Jasper Sharp
Dena Kennedy:  Lynette/Hortensia
Adam Gardiner:  Wally/Adam

Andrew Foster:  Set Designer
Elizabeth Whiting:  Costume Designer
Brad Gledhill:  Lighting & Sound Designer
Stephen Sinclair:  Script Editor 

Production Manager – Mark Gosling
Technical Manager – Bonnie Burrill
Senior Stage Manager – Fern Christie
Operator – Robert Hunte
Wardrobe Technician – Sophie Ham
Properties Master – Diana Kovacs
Set Construction – 2 Construct  

Excellently timed slapstick

Review by Janet McAllister 19th Feb 2011

The sexy blonde on the promotional poster isn’t on stage, but the title says it all: this is shamelessly low brow farce, and no one’s pretending otherwise. It’s very well produced; whether or not one thinks it’s worth the Auckland Theatre Company’s substantial effort is a matter of taste.

Written by the late New Zealand playwright Robert Lord, and newly edited by Stephen Sinclair of Ladies’ Night fame, it’s a play of comic sights rather than witty lines. Set in a small-town 1970s police station – resplendent with fluorescent tube lights, government-issue green lino and a faded portrait of the Queen – Well Hung features a kook, a cop, his wife and her lover. [More]
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A cop-incompetence romp

Review by Kate Ward-Smythe 14th Feb 2011

True to the genre, director Ben Crowder unashamedly pulls on every aspect of farce to present this new version of Robert Lord’s original kiwi satire, which has been revised by the skilful wit of Stephen Sinclair as script editor.*

Lord’s seemingly ridiculous plot, a patchwork of outwardly far-fetched circumstances, is based on NZ’s most famous botched unsolved murder case – that of Harvey and Jeanette Crewe. Brash and uncompromising in its repartee and delivery, this production succeeds in its use of extreme farce to expose the seedy underbelly of small town dodgy carry-on.

Giving his cast full license to make their performances and characterizations as broad, stylized and big as they wished, Crowder sets a blistering pace from start to finish, dismissing any notions such as a pause for effect or building to a crescendo. While it takes some getting used to, by the second half, the one or two scenes that are at a comparatively normal pace, seem out of step with Crowder’s rapid-fire gem.

Judging from the appreciative opening night audience’s response, it will be received as simple entertainment at its best. 

Crowder’s creative team have clearly enjoyed an amusing collaboration, resulting in a wonderfully detailed instantly recognizable time warp back to the 70s, all brightly lit by the unwavering Brad Gledhill.

Andrew Foster’s set design is full of Formica, clutter and doors-a-plenty, which are given a continuous hilarious work-out by all in the cast; while Elizabeth Whiting mixes jandles, polyester and stubbies with some outstanding fashion statements. 

The cast of 5 (playing 7 characters) are uniformly brilliant in their commitment to the precise timing, physical and verbal dexterity required by Crowder’s direction.

While all take up the offer to extend beyond believability, Simon Ferry, as the bumbling Sergeant Bert Donelly, gives a well pitched performance in terms of build and dynamic. By contrast, the exquisitely formed Pua Magasiva starts his Constable Trev Brown at a hyperactive level and essentially stays there. 

However, when Carl Bland makes his entrance as show-pony detective Jasper Sharp, the night moves up a gear. Bland has incredible physicality that belies his years, plus his elasticity is straight from Monty Python’s “Ministry of Funny Walks”. 

Dena Kennedy is delicious both as lusty Lynette Donelly and larger-than-life Am-Dram director (and not so discrete back-room abortionist) Hortensia.

Kennedy, along with the ingenious Adam Gardiner, are impressive as they flit effortlessly between dual roles. Gardiner’s Wally is appropriately goofy and clichéd, plus his Adam Turner, complete with gammy leg, is very entertaining. However, it is Wally’s star-turn performing “the dance of the gluteus maximus” which upstages even the naked torso of Magasiva.

A huge thank you to ATC, for their timely election year investment in Robert Lord’s delicious romp into a land of cop-incompetence. 

* Programme note – “WELL HUNG premiered at Downstage Theatre Wellington in 1974. Robert Lord subsequently rewrote it as COUNTRY COPS in 1985. This version of Robert Lord’s play incorporates aspects of the original play into the later version, whilst retaining the title of the original.”
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