Tag Archives: Basement Theatre

Been | I didn’t Invite You Here To Lecture Me


Ding! The class bell rings and we are ushered into the university auditorium.  Today we shall be attending a number of lectures: Law, Shakespeare, German, Music, Political Policy, Linguistics, Literature and Education … it’s a busy day.  Yes, we the audience are once again impressionable and wrought students back in our old lecture hall haunts.

‘I didn’t Invite You Here To Lecture Me’ –  written and produced by Amy Mansfield, has been compiled using endless reams of her own (and surprisingly well-kept) university recitation.  Our orator, played by Mika Austin, masterfully emulates the teaching style of each of the individual lecturers; Seamlessly flitting from one character to the next and then back again, as we are taken on a journey through the complexities of the English vernacular and interweaving each personality through the myriad of lessons.

Given the heady and high-brow subject matter, it will hardly be surprising, that there are opportune moments of student (i.e. audience) participation in this play, but fear not!  For it is all very frivolous and engaging, provoking thought and consciousness.  I myself at times, found myself wistfully reminiscing of university days long gone by …

Mika Austin provides a sublime performance with her shrewd intellect and highly witty script, as well as her lightning-fast personality changes mid-discourse.  Her masterful acting talents are only further demonstrated, by the very timely improvisation she breaks into when one of the classmates (audience) commits a phone faux pas part way through the performance.  The lecturer humorously reminds us of our obligations in the auditorium and immediately falls straight back into stern pontification without missing a beat.

This play will bring back colourful memories for many, from the testing (both literally and figuratively) times of their tertiary years.  It will also have you chuckling away at the tedious nature of a lot of those past tutorials and the seriously comical and character-driven anecdotes from their educators.  A superb performance with talented and flawless delivery.  Be sure to catch it before it heads offshore to the Melbourne Fringe Festival!

I Didn’t Invite You Here To Lecture Me – is now showing @Basement Theatre from the following dates:

Tue, 10 Sep 2019 – Sat, 14 Sep 2019

been | Like A River

NZ Theatre company MASSIVE and a quintet of up-and-coming  actors, bring the production ‘Like a River’ to the Basement Theatre this season.

Jo Randerson is the creator of this witty and insightful play, alongside direction from Stef Fink and a talented ingenue cast comprising of: Elsie Polosovai, Francesca Browne, Sherry Zhang, Jasper Putt and Seto Ierome.

Like a River, is a commentary on modern reality, which uses the tried-and-tested templates of such contemporary media and reality television as, ‘My Kitchen Rules’, ‘Love Island’ and ‘This is Your Life’ to name but a few …

Gearing the audience into the game-show style of this play, a large and unmistakable image of a clock is set centre-stage, and as it ticks along it becomes a metaphor for one of the show’s underlying themes; being that of a race against time, and also as a competition of popularity and recognition.  Each individual, expressing themselves and their constitution, in order to make an impression and win the game, albeit with just 60 minutes to spare.

Each actor dons a name tag to identify one another, they also use the formula of using a persons ‘likes and dislikes’ to determine one’s character and convictions.  Comedy is also used to engage the audience and express the ideas of the play, with comical impersonations ranging from the glib and smarmy rantings of Mike Hosking to the infamous Donald Trump and late Robert Muldoon.

Opinions are another strong theme relayed throughout the play; thus questioning the right/wrong circumstances in to which voice them. There are also moments of profound hindsight, in which the characters share their regrets about not speaking up for themselves and for what they innately believed was right.

The play encourages audience participation, as a mode of delivering ‘feedback’, and the feedback in turn, drives the subsequent actions of its participants. (In this case the actors).

Self-awareness in a ‘sea of unknowing’.  Modern Life and technology, the positive and negative influences of social media, and the ever relevant issue of sustainability and the environment, are all topical subjects that this play successfully address and invite the audience to question and form their own opinions upon.

A showcase of fresh talent and idealistic vision – Like A River is now showing at The Basement on these following dates:

~ Wednesday 23rd – Saturday 27th July

NZICF 19 | Tim Batt & Disasteradio: Space Couch

New Zealand’s own Tim Batt teams up with Lower Hutt’s finest musical talent (Luke Rowell) to present ‘Space Couch’  – a live comedy chat show that encompasses all things topical; from politics to pilates.

This off-the-wall 55 minute (or beyond) show is like a zip-liner for your attention, shooting at you straight from our endeared home of theatre – The Basement.

Tackling everything from the interminable life of ‘The Simpsons’, previous employment revelations, proletarian veganism and facts you didn’t ‘know’ you needed to know ….  tangent lines being as divergent as Snow White to The Beatles

Hot on the heels of a downfall most public, that of prolific chat-show host, Jeremy Kyle – this show could not have been any more well-timed, albeit with a refreshing twist!  Tim Batt is as engaging and animated as ever, with his informative delivery, great rapport and energetic chemistry with partner-in-crime, Disasteradio.

A few local heroes/celebrity guests made an appearance on the infamous couch; comedian Hamish Parkinson and his mum Lynette (endearingly referred to as Nonny), our national treasure Claire Chitham (Shortland Street/Fresh Eggs) and although they were charming and loveable,  I did wonder how a non-local would embrace such specific personalities and fodder, as I personally felt that the conversation veered off on in a direction, that at times seemed somewhat clique’ and specific to those only close to the guests themselves …

But trivial things aside, it was a warm and light-hearted night out, and I appreciated the off-beat banter and quirkiness of the show’s format.  Disasteradio was great with his unscripted probing, amiable swordplay with Tim and of course, his computer genius.  I especially related and was most bemused by the duo’s most charmingly underwhelming homage to J-Ville …

Space Couch is full of comical quips, random snippets from fellow comedians & family and not-to-be-forgotten, most important reflections from Space Couch himself, and though entertaining, had the vibe presented from the beginning followed through to the end, my attentions may have been entangled just that little bit more.

‘Space Couch’ is part of the NZ International Comedy Festival and is currently showing:  Wednes 15 – Sat 18 May @Basement Theatre.

Don’t miss out!  3 stars ***

NZICF 19 | Brendon Green: Of Consequence

Packed into the Basement Theatre Brendon Green welcomes guests whilst strumming on his guitar! With a retro amp and a Hogwarts sign, let’s see what this guy is all about.

A mix of traditional stand up, interlaced with quirky songs, his skilful storytelling is where he really shines, following a well trodden path of wordplay and anecdotes; there were a few big laughs and plenty of chuckles as he weaved in his recent engagement as the thread throughout the show and his final song forming an hilarious finale. Yet despite this the show just seemed lacking somehow and left me wondering if I wanted to give him a brotherly hug or take him out for a beer!
Perhaps not his best show, but suffice to say (stealing his own line!), ‘He left the room in an ok condition!’

3/5 stars

Been | Retail Therapy

Basement Theater’s Spring Season has sprung!  Most fittingly (excuse the pun) alongside Click-Clack Productions to present ‘Retail Therapy’.  An irreverent and laughter-packed debut by playwright Grace-Amelia Vernal set in the cut-throat, take-no-prisoners, superficial realm of retail.

A successful foray into theater, whilst under an internship at the Basement itself, Grace’s passion for all things thespian clearly shows through the play’s direction, comedic quality of script and a relatively freshman cast that includes:  Louisa Hutchinson as the dedicated & upstanding although somewhat awkward employee Nina, socially libertine makeup artist Mercy (Albertine Jonas), the artistic and decidedly non-camp Charlie (Stephen Lyell) with their bitch-from-hell colleague Vicky (Becky Button) and the store Don Juan, Darren (played by Dylan Thuraisingham).

Carefully placed and laundered shirt/coat/dress racks are in the forefront of the audience, and with the high-pitched positivity of a dept.store voice-over, subtle yet obvious, generic elevator music playing in the background throughout, a scene is set.  One that resonates an early popular UK television show, “Are You Being Served”.

A standout from the get-go, was the vivacious Mercy.  Her questionable work ethic and incorrigible ideas were played to perfection by Albertine Jonas, helping an initially slow story-line gather momentum.  Another highlight for me was the performance of Zoe Larsen Cumming, as she takes the self-obsessed, selfie-taking and utterly narcissistic character, ‘Stefani’ to another level.  A highly amusing and completely believable Kardashianesque level at that!

This play is brutally honest and funny with ‘on-point’ costume design and hysterical (however inappropriate) puns and references such as, ‘slutty toddler’ and ‘putting on the gay’ ….  The character of Holly & Grange’s store manager Stewart (Tim Herbert) is not to be outdone however, as his true and colourful identity is revealed in the 2nd act, after  a comedy of errors at a subsequent staff party, including a misappropriation of A-Class ‘breath mints’ …

Retail Therapy is a light-hearted, yet thoroughly encapsulating show, that delves into the trivial and often ridiculous working lives of it’s characters.  Entertaining and whimsical, the energy of it’s actors and quick interchanges between props and scenes, brings the story to life and keeps the drama going until the very end!


*** Retail Therapy is now showing at the Basement:                                                                                                                     Tues 18th – Sat 22nd September


Been | Run Rabbit

Darkness befalls a velvety-clad ingenue upon a miniature topiary.  Cue a Highland march …

Charismatic and entirely engaging, Victoria Abbott beguiles us, as she introduces the play ‘Run Rabbit’, explaining the context and it’s performers.  Albeit the one; as she introduces the many facets of Victoria Abbott throughout the 60minute run,  invariably flitting fleetingly from shrub to burrow, akin to a hasty rabbit.

Meet Black Agnes, awoken straight from a dirty siege amidst an invasion of the 1300’s,  Victoria shows brilliant inclusion of the audience as she takes us on a convincing narrative, that traces back from her ancient lineage to present day 2018, with tales of tertiary days, questionable encounters and personal experiences that purport this play’s underlying theme …

Run Rabbit, directed by Kate McGill and produced by Alice May Kirker,  is a production that utilizes the most minimal of props, yet is filled with creative and visually stimulating prose – thought provoking metaphors, alliteration and recurrent use of homophones keep the pace of the play throughout.   It is definitely strange and confusing at times, and being a bit under the weather myself that day, took a little focus to keep abreast of it’s direction initially.

She delves into dark quarters, relaying incidences of sexual innuendo and unwarranted attentions.  Victoria confronts the audience in order to make us aware of the unease that she herself felt in these very situations she portrays to us.  But with the inclusion of comical parody, such as one particular scene straight from the film  ‘Love Actually’ and energetic games of ‘insults, metaphors & threats’,  it was all drawn together, with a strong sense of clarity and purpose that touched many a heart in the room ….

Victoria Abbott, with her impressive comedic timing and skill, as well as incredibly strong presence on the stage, shows that she is an artistic force of femininity to be acknowledged .

Run Rabbit, a one-woman show created by Victoria herself, is intelligently crafted to engage the intimate audience of the Basement Theatre, whilst delivering a message that was at times confronting, yet incredibly powerful and necessary, regardless of time.


*** Run Rabbit runs (he he, excuse the pun):

24 Jul – 4 Aug


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.