Basement Theatre, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland

27/11/2012 - 08/12/2012

Production Details

Bob is a lonely Waikato dairy farmer. Five years ago his wife left him `for another bloke’, taking the two teenage daughters with her. He is looking for a partner.

Yulia is a solo mother living in a small apartment in Moscow. Desperate to rescue her son Dmitry from enlistment in the army and wanting a better life for her elderly mother Ludmila, she joins up with a `mail order’ bride agency.

Across the cultural and physical divide can companionship be found? Even Love?

A moving, often funny and very human story.

Brought to you by a fantastic creative team.

BASEMENT THEATRE, Lower Greys Ave, Auckland CBD
27 November – 8 December 2012, 8pm 

Performers: Elena Stejko, Elizabeth Hawthorne and David Aston.

Designer John Verryt
Lighting designer Bonnie Burrill 

Performers: Elena Stejko, Elizabeth Hawthorne and David Aston.

Designer John Verryt
Lighting designer Bonnie Burrill  

Romantic story gives human element to stock joke

Review by Janet McAllister 29th Nov 2012

Mail-order brides, either as scheming minxes or as doormat housewives, are a stock joke, but our heroine in this engaging, gentle, small story – romantic in every sense – is not. Playwright Vanessa Rhodes asks: what if the immigrants turn out to be human? What if internet Russians turn out to have families, dilemmas and – gasp – jokes of their own?

And what if Godzone is not (just) seen as a green landscape – a place to escape physical hardship – but also a cultural wasteland? Yulia (Elena Stejko) loves the champagne and caviar served at the theatre; Waikato Bob (David Aston) has never been to the theatre. “Good,” comments Yulia’s mother Ludmilla (Elizabeth Hawthorne) emphatically, when she learns that her daughter has sent Bob a postcard of their local cathedral. “He can see how beautiful Russia was.” [More


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Simple and endearing

Review by Adey Ramsel 29th Nov 2012

Without doubt Where Are You, My Only One? is, in turns, charming, beautiful and eloquent. A love story that thankfully ignores the hackneyed clichés of roses, wine and poetry and finds its true self in the air we breathe, the beauty of an unseen country and the colour of a bird.

Also ignored are the obvious, culture-clash gags yelling out to be included – instead we have feelings (remember them?), truth and hope for friendship, and maybe beyond. 

Nine years after starting life as a shorter piece for Silo’s To Russia With Love season in 2003, Vanessa Rhodes has crafted a script of passion and delight in its simplicity; there are no convoluted plot turns, twists or cliff hangers here, just real people and their hearts’ desires. And the script closes just where it should; no running across airport tarmacs or cosy-happy-ever-afters: just two people being – in their own words – brave.

The dialogue would not be out of place upon the printed page and more than once I found myself repeating the words, wondering how they’d read in a novel. 

Cameron Rhodes has reflected this and directed the play with heartfelt simplicity: two tables, four chairs, a rug and a scattering of props. He has placed the play in the hands of David Aston (also the producer), Elizabeth Hawthorne and Elena Stejko, and this tight trio deliver on all levels.

From Bonnie Burrill’s lighting to John Verryt’s set design, all involved, have been true to the theme and single vision of telling the story of three people who each have a need.

Aston, as always, is dependable as Kiwi Bob: solid as the land he works, never faltering. Bob is as straight as they come and thankfully all attempts at playing him for laughs as a fumbling farm-boy are avoided.  

Elena Stejko is a delight to watch, her heart torn between home and hope, the future and family. With Elizabeth Hawthorne as her traditionalist mother, this pair give voice to the age old battle of tradition versus a better, brighter future. Whilst Stejko, in style and persona, radiates the new world on the other side of the world, Hawthorne is a lingering presence of tradition and loyalty, a homage to the past where love and the heart gave way to duty.

Simple and endearing, as all the best stories are.


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Wears its heart on its sleeve

Review by Matt Baker 29th Nov 2012

The decision to revisit a piece of work is an intriguing endeavour. For David Aston it was based on his belief that Where Are You My Only One? – a piece that he first performed in 2003 as part of Silo Theatre’s To Russia With Love mentoring project for young directors – needed to be seen by a wider audience. Originally a 30-minute one-act play, the piece was developed by its writer Vanessa Rhodes while she was a resident at The Robert Lord Cottage in Dunedin. It debuted as a full-length play at Circa Two in 2009, a production in which Aston also starred, and it is clear to see why he would want to approach the character once more.

Aston epitomises the Waikato farmer with an endearingly awkward characterisation and affably honest dialogue to serve him. Every word, and occasionally breath, seems like a struggle to express himself, which continually adds to his backstory and consequently informs a great deal of his character. Elena Stejko gives a tightly bound performance, reflecting the maternal bonds which dictate and restrict so much of her character’s life. Matriarchal New Zealand actress Elizabeth Hawthorne gives an acute portrayal of a domineering mother in both words and action. [More


John Smythe November 29th, 2012

Matt Baker is in error, I fear, about David Aston's involvement in the 2009 Circa Two production. Directed by Susan Wilson, the cast was 
Donna Akersten:  LUDMILA 
Andrea Tutt:  YULIA
Gavin Rutherford:  ROBERT 'BOB' McLEAN

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