Tag Archives: Basement Theatre

NZICF 18 | Tiprat

Luke Heggie cuts right to it. He came out on stage and instantly got to work. Which to be honest, felt a bit rehearsed. I walked in just before the show started so seat space was limited in the small upstairs room in the Basement Theatre, so I was thankful to find seats in the second row. I had figured that Luke would be the comedian to single out people sitting in the front, but was disappointed to find out he barely interacts with his audience. There was  even a moment a group of guys came in late – Luke quickly invited them in and and told them it wasn’t one of those shows where they’d be roasted. Fair enough I guess, but then one of the late comers tripped up the stairs and made a ruckus. Everyone waited for the joke and it never came.

Towards the middle of the show, Luke started making jokes about his kids – which the 50-60 year old in front of me loved. For me, it was the predictable observations that most parents have when they have children. I may have laughed more at the man’s reaction in front of me than to the joke itself.

There was a ukulele sitting on stage all night, which Luke didn’t touch until the last 5 minutes of the show. My advice to him would be to leave it off stage because the joke didn’t land he doesn’t have any rhythm.

I’m not saying I didn’t laugh, but I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed when I left the show. 3/5


See Luke Heggie – Tiprat in Auckland until May 5. Buy your tickets here.

NZICF 18 | 5 mins with Donna Brookbanks

The key to happiness is accepting you’re becoming…. a cat lady?

After being a finalist of one of the biggest accolades in NZ comedy last year, Donna Brookbanks’ is back with her new show ‘You Do You Babes.’ The physical, and character playing comic will be taking her signature awkward charm to new heights and sharing her stories of navigating through anxious social spheres and her quest to be happy. The unique show promises to be organised chaos of stand-up, sketch and improv…….that’s if she finishes writing it!

Describe your show in three words or less..
Silly character-y fun

What’s the inspiration behind it?
I’ve been having nightmares where I’m not ready for my show, I’m late or I’ve forgotten my words, or a stage manager comes up to me and says, ‘you’re on in 10 minutes, Donna’ and I freak out because I haven’t written it so that’s become a bit of a theme through the show. Also I’m trying to live my best life at the moment so it’s also about that.

Where will we find you during the festival?
Probably at the bar at The Basement, Q or Classic in between trying to get around all my friends shows.

NZ Comedy Scene – would you swipe right or swipe left?
100% swipe right. All such babes.

Do you have any top picks for this year’s festival?
Really looking forward to seeing Phil Wang, always love Tessa Waters, all my Snort pals shows, David O’Doherty, Fricken Dangerous Bro…arghhhhhh toooo maaaany

What song or movie best describes the story of your life?
The song All By Myself. Okay no that’s so sad, I’m kidding. Actually maybe Eagle Vs Shark or something equally as awkward to watch.

What are you currently binge-watching on Netflix?
Going between Line of Duty and The IT Crowd. 2 very opposite ends of the spectrum…!

And your top 3 songs on Spotify?
‘Juicy’ The Notorious B.I.G., ‘Dance Yourself Clean’ MS MR and ‘Call Your Girlfriend’ Robyn

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Omg watch so much Netflix. And read a book. I forget how much I like to read.

World Association:
Comedy – Mates
New Zealand – Home
Woke – Up?
Adulting – No thanks
Basic – Bitches
Trend – Setter (defo not me)
Joke – Knock knock?

Donna Brookbanks performs 8 – 12 May at Wellington’s BATS Theatre and 15 – 19 May at Auckland’s Basement Theatre, as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival with Best Foods Mayo.  Buy your tickets here.

been | WEiRdO

WEiRdO – created by Waylon Edwards & William Duignan and directed by Jane Yonge, is a 60 minute production that taps into the ever pressing issue of racism and it’s undeniable presence in the modern, commonplace workplace.

‘WEiRdO’.  The very word itself lends it’s meaning from two separate words: wero, Te Reo for ‘challenge’ and ID, ‘identification’ abbreviated.   Addressing the topic of cultural identity and ‘loss of it’ as a subsequent result of ruthless ambition, it is told in such dry and satirical fashion, that it was often quite uncomfortable with awkward pauses and periods that are utterly confronting,  yet necessary to the direction and theme of play.

As we are presented with a familiar item of office equipment upon entering – the ‘lanyard’, a scene is created; of the droll and banal confines of an inner-city office space, with style of humor reminiscent of 90’s film (aptly titled) ‘Office Space’ and very own early NZ series ‘Gliding On’ …  The lanyard alone becomes somewhat of a center-piece for the rest of the play and also acts as a symbol of power and meteoric rise within the office.

It also acts as a catalyst that prompts a very heated and initially passive-aggressive confrontation between the main protagonist Waylon and his racially ignorant boss/mentor Richard.  This particular scene leads us to the most pivotal moment of the play, where Waylon experiences something of an epiphany; all past injustices that have been pressed upon him and his Tangata Whenua flash before his eyes, while he comes to self-realization of his own moral decline, after trading in on his own people’s struggles for personal gain, as he quickly ascends the corporate ladder.

Waylon Edwards and William Duignan are a creative duo, who have collaborated on numerous productions and whose chemistry and great teamsmanship is evident through both their performances in WEiRdO.  Waylon uses his own background and uniquely talented acting skills, to present a young man who has lost his way and ultimately his own identity,  so convincingly conveyed through his flustered and awkward facial expressions and passionate reaction towards the end.   William, on the other side of the gate, portrays a run-of-the-mill manager, who may not be as intentionally prejudiced as one may think upon initial meeting, but a product of society and the rudimentary structure of a PC, yet culturally insensitive workplace, that we perhaps, may have chosen to believe has ceased to exist.

The underlying message of WEiRdO is pulled together and presented to us, with a powerfully moving and thought-provoking moment of awareness at the end, from which I am sure, did not leave more than a few dry eyes in the audience.

**WEiRdO – is currently playing at the Basement Theatre and runs from Tuesday 17th – Saturday 21st April





NZICF 18 | 5 mins with Fern Brady

After selling out shows at last year’s Edinburgh Fringe, Scottish comedian, Fern Brady is making her NZ debut with her whip-smart, bold, brash, and sometimes brutal show, Suffer Fools. Expect passionate honesty intertwined with views on politics and personal relationships. As seen on 8 Out of 10 Cats (in case you’ve never heard of it, that’s a big deal!).

Describe your show in three words or less…
Honest, blunt, dark

What’s the inspiration behind it?
I was wishing I was thinner then I realised the two times in my life when I’ve been proper skinny were the two unhappiest times of my life where I was nuts, so I wrote a show about it. I’m not really selling it, but I swear it’s funny and it’s the first show I’ve done where a lot of women came to see me, before that I was almost exclusively getting a lot of bearded gamer guys (you’re all still welcome, by the way).

Where will we find you during the festival?
In a basement, apparently.

NZ Comedy Scene – would you swipe right or swipe left?
I know this is about a dating app but I’ve been going out with someone so long I haven’t used the apps, I’ve only ever met people the olden days way of getting drunk and lunging at them.

Do you have any top picks for this year’s festival?
I want to see Rose Matafeo

What song or movie best describes the story of your life?
The film Fish Tank except I haven’t pumped Michael Fassbender.

What are you currently binge-watching on Netflix?
I didn’t think I’d like a wrestling show, but I loved Glow and Marc Maron is shockingly good in it.

And your top 3 songs on Spotify?
Sticky – Ravyn Lenae, Strangers – Sigrid, Ready for the Magic – Honeyblood

If you didn’t have to sleep, what would you do with the extra time?
Read celebrity blind items on the internet or really dark Reddit threads about people’s worst secrets.

World Association:
Comedy – Tragedy
New Zealand – coffee
Woke – Dunno
Adulting – I hate this word so much
Basic – Australians
Trend – Me
Joke – Yes

Fern Brady plays 27 & 28 Apr at Auckland’s Basement Theatre as part of the NZ International Comedy Festival with Best Foods Mayo. Buy your tickets here.

been | A Brisk Wind Whistling Down Twin Oak Drive

Unexpected.  Quirky.  Nouvelle.   Just a smattering of the adjectives I would use to describe this solo thespian act, created and performed by the very talented and astute Phoebe Mason.

Currently playing at our very own Basement Theatre –  ‘A Brisk Wind Whistling Down Twin Oak Drive’ is a 50 minute experience of satirical metaphoric prose, filled with intermittent humour and cunning observations of seemingly trivial and ordinary every day conundrums …  With tactility and the senses; sound, smell, instinct, central to the core of this performance.  (Lighting and Design by Amanda Tito).

“Fairly useless puddle of a human” and a “Pigsty of discontent” are just a taste of the brilliant analogies used throughout, among some uncanny and poetic musings upon nature, time lapses and the consequential pull of gravity.  Phoebe Mason’s turn of phrase and absurd, neurotic, yet rather sentimental reverie from figurative dreams to the meeting of eccentric strangers, is entertaining as well as judicious.

From the saccharine scent of rosemary upon entering, to the prominent and timely use of cue cards to set the course of the show;  A Brisk Wind Down Twin Oak Drive is an aesthete’s dream and Phoebe narrates it with unconventional wit and acuity, laced with moments of tenderness.


~ A Brisk Wind Whistling Down Twin Oak Drive is now showing at Basement Theatre:  Tuesday 20th – Saturday 24th March


been | Basement Theatre’s Santa Claus

If you enjoy surprises, impromptu comedy entertainment, and being taken out of your comfort zone, then go and see Santa Claus.

Santa Claus, the Basement Theatre’s ninth annual fundraiser Christmas show is being played until Wednesday 20th December. The show is directed by Leo Gene Peters, director of the award-winning independent theatre company A Slightly Isolated Dog. Over the last few years, A Slightly Isolated Dog has been exploring how to make a theatre experience truly alive, by removing all barriers between the audience and performers, and this could not have been more evident in Santa Claus.

At around 6.30pm on Friday evening, the wonderfully petite venue saw crowds of (mostly younger) individuals sipping beer and wine before the show. What people didn’t know then was that they should probably sip a little more, to gain some well-needed courage for later on.

The story, which I found quite hard to follow, (after all the laughter and unprepared involvement) celebrated the way we build up expectations around Christmas and showed us how those expectations can then turn into a nightmare.

At the very beginning of the show, each French cast member introduced themselves, chatted to the different audience groups and asked Christmas related questions. They then used the information they had gathered to open the show. Firing statements back and forth from each cast member… “Camilla will be having a friends Christmas this year, as she is visiting New Zealand.” “Well Ben doesn’t enjoy Christmas because…” and so on. As soon as this happened, the audience felt immediately involved in the show, and we were already giggling as we got to know more about other people.

The killer cast of Hayley Sproull, Jack Buchanan, Andrew Paterson and Susie Berry were truly amazing, which was more evident as the show went on. From my experience, each cast member was personally lovely, hilarious and very spontaneous. They proceeded to put the audience members on the spot, encouraged them to be spontaneous (without much choice) and seemed genuinely interested in ensuring everyone had a great time. They were charming, sexy, funny and very French.

The celebrity guest on Friday night was Rose Matafeo, New Zealand comedian and TV presenter. She’s a writer and performer on the NZ late-night comedy sketch show funny girls, and she was a natural in Santa Claus. She was brought into the story of the show in many different forms – as Santa, Santa’s friend and a baby. Each time she provided improvised entertainment in a cool and nonchalant manner.

Many audience members were also brought into the show throughout the evening. One audience member was thrown a New Zealand post shirt to put on and told to run up the stage with wind and snow-like props in his face. Many other audience members were asked to put on a ‘talking’ Santa outfit, and were encouraged to act spontaneously, dance, create handshakes and ‘go with the flow’. A different audience member was introduced into the show as one of the cast’s lovers, which pressed him to think up and share an elaborate tale of how they met.

Overall, the show had incredibly powerful sound effects, and the cast members blasted out some great Christmas songs. You have to go to the show with an open mind, and be willing to join in the fun and act. This play is not for you if you are reserved and don’t like taking part.

Spoiler alert: The show saw us witness one older gentleman from the audience kiss one of the actors in a very passionate, unrehearsed, spur of the moment gesture. It was absolutely hilarious.

The Basement Christmas Show is one of Auckland’s must-do Christmas offerings and sells out every year, so don’t miss it. You can get tickets from $32 to $50 on iTicket.

interviewed | multi-talented Director Leo Gene Peters

Santa Claus is coming to town, literally. Santa Claus is the Basement Theatre’s ninth annual Christmas show, and it’s coming to Auckland from Thursday 30th November to Wednesday 20th December. The show is directed by Leo Gene Peters, director of the award winning independent theatre company A Slightly Isolated Dog. Over the last few years, A Slightly Isolated Dog has been exploring how to make a theatre experience truly alive, by removing all barriers between the audience and performers, and this will be evident in Santa Claus.

The annual Christmas show will include the usual host of secret celebrity guests. Team this with Leo Gene Peters’ raucous, sexy, signature style, and this is a show not to be missed.

I chat to Leo, who has worked as a professional director, designer, technician, actor, tutor, facilitator and mentor, to find out more about the show, his career and how he likes to celebrate.

Q: From your point of view, what is the Christmas show Santa Claus about?

A: The show is a celebration of our ridiculous lives, especially the way we build up expectations around Christmas (and our lives in general) and how the real events rarely ever live up to our expectations… it’s a party that celebrates the childhood magic and the adult disappointment of Christmas… it’s a chaotic romp through the Christmas fantasy into the Christmas nightmare.

Q: Should the audience be worried if they haven’t been good this year?

A: No… well, I mean judgement is coming, Santa sees all. He knows when you’re sleeping, and he knows when you’re awake and he’s definitely coming… but I wouldn’t worry about it…

Q: Tell us a little more about the cast of the show…

A: They’re a great group of performers, really charming and very sexy and very funny… and very French.

Q: How have you explored removing barriers between the audience and performers for this Christmas show?

A: We tell the story with you, so the audience is always a part of what we do… we like there to be no barriers. Even with that, some people just watch the shows, some people play with us a bit… we do our best to make sure everyone has the best possible time. We want you to do what you want and have a great time out.

Q: Can you tell us more about using transformational venue experiences, integration of popular culture and interactivity? Are you doing this again for Santa Claus?

A: We love to play make-believe, then create something together and all buy into a story and tell it together in an exciting and entertaining way. This is something that is inherently in us as human beings, it’s why all the storytelling forms exist, we need to dream and exercise our imaginations. We like to play the way we did when we were kids, to make magic happen by turning one place or object into another. There are very few places for us to do this together and we believe the theatre is a crucial place for this to happen.

Q: What has been a key highlight (so far) in creating and directing the show?

A: We spend a lot of time making each other laugh at ridiculous offers for the show… but I’m enjoying most all the stories of our family Christmases that we’ve been telling/hearing in the making process. It’s such a lovely process to reflect in this way and see other people’s experiences of Christmas, whether they’re good or bad, whether they like it or hate… we celebrate them all.

Q: What do you want the audience to feel/experience/get from the show?

A: A great night out that is different from any other great night out… we want people to come and feel sexy and laugh and have a party that celebrates our ridiculous lives.

Q: What would be your best piece of advice to give to the audience before they attend the show?

A: Meet up with friends, have a meal and some drinks, chat about your Christmas plans with them, tell stories to each other… and come to the theatre expecting to have a great time. We will do everything in our power to make you look as good as possible and to have a great time.

Q: How will you celebrate once the show has finished?

A: Probably Christmas with close friends (surrogate family). A lot of food and a lot of drinks. Once the show opens we may have a few drinks as well…

Q: How does Santa Claus compare to previous shows you have done with your theatre company?

A: It’s delightful to be partnering with Basement to create it – we love working in Auckland and especially with Basement. They’ve created a great energy and community in the venue. The show itself is similar in a lot of ways, but very much its own beast… it’s been different to plays with such well known mythology and cultural events that so many people have a strong relationship to.

Q: What do you have planned for A Slightly Isolated Dog, after the huge Santa Clause show? Will you have a break or are you straight back into planning for another project?

A: We’re always planning for upcoming projects… but we’ll have a bit of a break for the holidays for sure. We’ve got a project coming up for CubaDupa in Wellington that we’re really excited about, as well as a national tour of Jekyll & Hyde. And there are a number of other projects in development.

Q: You have worked in many areas – directing, designing, acting, tutoring, mentoring and much more. How do you manage your time? Does the workload ever get too stressful? How do you like to unwind?

A: I try to make sure there is enough time to work through all the projects that I’ve got going at once, but sometimes I just work a lot of hours to get everything done… other times it feels like I do very little… The workload can be stressful, I try to keep up good practices in my life… I try to meditate, I run quite a bit and I’ve been doing Wing Tsun Kung Fu for a number of years as well. And I also enjoy drinking, which is useful…

Q: If you had to choose just one of the above professions to do full time for the rest of your life (you couldn’t do anything else), which would it be and why?

A: I’d direct/create new theatre… It’s a place for us to come together and share our loneliness. To celebrate all the ridiculous and beautiful things about life – to build community through reflection and imagination. It’s an amazing thing to be a part of. It’s amazing to be with a thriving audience in that way.

Q: Random question – what is your favourite food if you had to choose one item or dish?

A: Tricky… Cochinita Pibil.

Q: What’s your best piece of advice for the aspiring directors out there?

A: Question the purpose of what you want to make. I think it should be for a bigger reason then wanting people to tell us that we’re good. What are you trying to create in the community? Why should we come together for some event that you want to make? These questions seem crucial, but I don’t think they’re often really examined.

The Basement Christmas Show has evolved from a low-key fundraiser, to one of Auckland’s must-do Christmas offerings. The show sells out every year, so don’t miss it. You can get tickets from $32 to $50 on iTicket.