Women Drinking Hemlock

Gryphon Theatre, 22 Ghuznee Street, Wellington

07/03/2023 - 09/03/2023

NZ Fringe Festival 2023

Production Details

Sacha Acland, Writer and Co-producer (no preference), Sam Lusty, Co-producer (She/they)
Bee Wilson-Kilby, Director (they/them)
Helen Oliver, Designer (she/her)
Teddy O’Neill, Lighting Designer + Operator (he/xe).


Women Drinking Hemlock is a new feminist comedy about two rival breweries. Written by first-time playwright Sacha Acland, this project supports many young and emerging theatre practitioners and tells a story relevant to Pōneke Wellington and Aotearoa New Zealand. The comedy is set in Wellington, and touches on themes such as the drinking culture in New Zealand and gender stereotypes in the hospitality industry.
The play starts with Maven and her best friend Freddy opening up a new brewery. Unfortunately, this move inadvertently peeves off their competitor across the road, a not-very-nice chap called Archie, who happens to think that women have no place in the world of beer.
While Maven and her team deal with the teething problems of starting a business, including incompetent new hires, a frustrating lack of customers, and an awkward budding flirtation between Maven and the bartender Elle, the boys across the road cause relentless chaos in various attempts at sabotage.
It will be showing at the Gryphon on the 7th, 8th, and 9th of March, from 5:30 to 6:30.
Tickets can be booked at https://fringe.co.nz/show/women-drinking-hemlock
Full price tickets are $20 and concession is $15.

Alanah Munn: Maven
Kirsti Rawstron: Elle
Alexis Smith: Freddy
Lily Jones: Lulu
Rosie Mazur: Marta
Nathan Arnott: Archie
Tristan Van der Velden: Pete
Holly Kennedy: Sam
Zalan Orban: Roman
North: James
Alexander Walker: Alex

Micah Nicolson, Stage Manager (he/him)
Charlie Hann, Assistant Producer (they/he)

Comedy , Theatre ,

50 minutes

Rivalry, malevolence, mayhem and hilarity see justice done

Review by Margaret Austin 08th Mar 2023

Am I perhaps the only audience member who, on seeing the word ‘hemlock’ in the title of this play think it references Socrates, the Greek philosopher whose wisdom incurred the wrath of the Athenian authorities and who cheerfully drank a death dealing draught of it at the state’s behest? 

Not Socrates, but another Greek by the name of Menander apparently thought up Women Drinking Hemlock but never came through with a script! Such a wasted opportunity has been pounced on by Sacha Acland (writer and co-producer) who has cribbed the title and created a startlingly original and delightful work that takes the stage at the Gryphon to a full house on opening night.

The players are Victoria University drama students, and their direction (B Wilson Kilby) and production does them proud. The set represents a bar – a bar which serves for two very different sets of characters.  

“I’m watching our competition,” says Archie (Nathan Arnott), one of the dudes from the well-established bar across the road from a newly arrived brewery manned by – well – girls. “Nothing to worry about,” he is assured by his fellow dudes.

Oh really? The girls across the road, headed by Maven (Alanah Munn), are busy spreading red and white checked tablecloths and are blithely unaware of the brooding malevolence opposite. In any case, they’ve got a new brew up their sleeves, or in their glasses if you prefer. And ‘prefer’ is an understatement – two early quaffers rave about it and their antics are a high point of a performance full of friendly pokes at men.

The dudes vow revenge on the ensuing popularity of their female counterparts. A plot is hatched and implemented, with all eight characters playing a part. General mayhem and hilarity follow, and justice is done. Even the men in the audience agree.   And just guess what name Maven and co give their new successful brew?


Make a comment

Wellingon City Council
Aotearoa Gaming Trust
Creative NZ
Auckland City Council
Waiematā Local Board logo