Tag Archives: Basement Theatre

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.

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