Tag Archives: theatre

Fringe 18: Triage! A Nursing Cabaret

If an energetic, vibrant and soulful show is what you’re after, Triage! A Nursing Cabaret fits the bill perfectly.

Australian singer Zuleika Khan expertly carries this one-man show, which blends sharp, clever humour with soulful singing sure to captivate. Examining the demanding, high pressure atmosphere of hospitals through the lens of a real-life registered nurse, Triage! carries a definite uniqueness and intrigue.

And while the content may be dark, Zuleika’s adept comic abilities enable viewers to confront themes of death and disease in a smooth and honest manner. The best thing about Triage!, however? The songs. It’s hard to imagine anyone listening to Zulieka’s powerful, confident and remarkably unusual voice without walking away feeling like they have just witnessed something magic.

Hers is the kind of voice that makes you stop and listen; the kind that deserves to be on a big stage. This, combined with Zulieka’s captivating, confident stage presence, guarantees you’ll be not just entertained but deeply impressed.

Add this to your bucket list, people.


Triage! A Nursing Cabaret is running at Q Theatre as part of Auckland Fringe until Saturday 3 March. 

humans of mac+mae: Lizzie Morris

This is my favourite denim jacket, it fits every occasion and can complete every outfit. It’s an authentic retro jacket and was given to me by my Aunty on my last trip to the UK.  I’m not one to value material possessions and often value an experience over things but this jacket is the exception.

I love clothes (especially secondhand ones) and feel that the way that you present yourself is often an extension of your personality or your artistic self. My wardrobe is filled with items that tell stories, but I’d be most devastated if I lost this one.

I was given this jacket by my aunty when I visited the UK for my Grandfathers funeral, it was only about the fourth time I’d ever met her but she managed to give me a jacket that suited my style perfectly.  It used to be hers in the 80’s and as soon as I saw it I fell in love.

This jacket is just like me. It’s quirky, a bit tough, and scruffy in an endearing way. This is also how you could describe the theatre that I make and the projects that I commit myself to – Messy and charming.

Lizzie Morris created and performs in Lucinda and the Cactus Girl in Auckland Tuesday 18 – Friday 22 October.  Buy your tickets here.

Inspired by the ‘Humans of New York’ series, we’re talking to our network find out what’s special to them, whether it’s a place, a thing, or a memory – Meet the “humans of mac+mae” –    http://bit.ly/HoMaM

humans of mac+mae: Vanessa Kumar

Here is something that is important to me, and one reasons is because  being my grandpa bought it for me on one of our thrift store adventures in Miramar, Wellington at some point last year.  It’s a nice thing to remember him by, I carry it with me whoever I go, it stays in my luggage.  Sometimes I read it, sometimes I forget to.  Another reason it’s important to me is because some of the scriptures are very encouraging and help propel me into my day.  Some of the other scriptures are scary but we tend not to dwell on those ones.

1 Corinthian 13:4-8 is one of my favourites,  the last line is ‘love never fails’

Vanessa Kumar performs the role of Priya Sengupta in Silo Theatre’s ‘Boys Will Be Boys’ from 08 – 24 September at Q Theatre.  Buy tickets here.

Inspired by the ‘Humans of New York’ series, we’re talking to our network find out what’s special to them, whether it’s a place, a thing, or a memory – Meet the “humans of mac+mae” –    http://bit.ly/HoMaM

seen | Not Psycho

Not Psycho is a brilliantly written and directed play that had me on the edge of my seat from start to finish. If you’re a Hitchcock fan and love psychological thrillers this is THE show for you.

Not Psycho is a mesh-mash of ‘slasher film tropes’ blurring the line of what’s real and what’s imaginary, it is so full of twists and turns it will have you reeling. The story follows a young man named Matthew who works at a video store based in 1990s Manchester. Within minutes you realise things aren’t right between him and his psychotic mother. Matthew soon encounters an unwelcome group of misfits whom helps or hinders his recollection of his past throwing him into a wrath of delusions or unnerving realities. You sympathise with Matthew, you worry for him, you fear for him and you want to end it for him. The story is confusing, it is unsettling but it is hypnotic, intense and gripping to watch.

I got an email last Wednesday morning asking if I could review a show, as I skimmed through the email I came by two words that turned me still, Not Psycho. “Is it a film I wonder? Is it going to be scary? Holy sh*t I don’t do well with horror!” Those were my thoughts but I said yes anyway and I do not regret it.

Saturday rolls by and my partner and I were queuing, next to us stood a chalkboard which said: “Contains nudity, sexual themes, violence, strobe + haze”. I thought to myself “Oh yeah, this is my kind of show” while my partner said aloud “… my gosh, what are we watching?”. We walked past a pile of unraveled VHS tapes on the floor before turning down a dark and curtained corridor. The stage divided the room like a catwalk, seen from either side of the stage is a subtly lit frame framing the setting like a wide screen television. In the middle of the stage was a shower head, shower drain and there lay a naked body wrapped in clear plastic. The environment is cold, clinical and sterile, it was like looking into an autopsy room. Low tech stage effects such as LED lights and the use of a smoke machine added to the illusion and I really loved the metallic echoes used with some of the dialogue, that added an extra element of eeriness to the play. There was blood, there was screaming, there were definitely a lot of flashing of skin and underwear. Take me seriously when I say this and I know this line is thrown about quite often, but this show should not to be missed.


WHEN:  Tuesday – Saturday 8:30pm (August 15 – 29)

WHERE:  The Loft @ Q Theatre (305 Queen Street CBD, AUCKLAND)

TICKETS: Adults $34.00, Concessions $28.00

(Fees apply for online booking, credit & postage)




Words & Direction: Benjamin Henson
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Performance: Edwin Beats, Julia Croft, Virginia Frankovich, Kevin Keys, Donogh Rees, Bryony Skillington
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Set Design: Christine Urquhart
Lighting Design: Rachel Marlow
Sound Design: Thomas Press
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In partnership with: Q Theatre as part of Q Presents
Supported by: Arts Alive, Creative New Zealand, Höpt
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Produced by: Fractious Tash

interviewed | In conversation with Virginia Frankovich

Virginia Frankovich is an award-winning actress who loves crafts, making stuff and pretty old dresses that come with a story.  She’s featured in various theatre productions, short films and the odd television series.  We caught up with her ahead of the opening of her latest production, opening at Q Loft’s stage tonight.

Can you tell us more about the production?
Not Psycho is a kaleidoscopic mash-up of slasher films set in 90s Manchester.  We follow the story of a young man named Matthew who works in a video store. He meets a circus of misfits who help/hinder his recollections of past events

What role are you playing in it?
I play Maz (Marion). A chaotic young mancunian woman who loves to play with fire. Her real name is Marion Samuels – a 90’s nod to Marion Crane from Psycho.

How are you preparing for the role?
I’ve done lots of research on Manchester – the accent, the lifestyle and the feeling of the late 90s pre-millennium paranoia. It was a really interesting time in history post-Thatcher and I’ve been delving into the Manchester rave scene – which was huge. I’ve also done lot’s of research on female killers as well as revisiting key slasher films. There’s been plenty of films/TV shows that have helped inspire the character development for Maz. She is a feisty creature and it’s a lot of fun playing somebody a lot more bolshy than myself.

You’re quite the busy bee, besides Not Psycho you’re also directing and devising another production. Can you tell us more about this?
Ahh yes. During rehearsals for Not Psycho I’ve been directing a cast of 19 in a play written by Ben Henson (writer/director of Not Psycho) and devised by the cast called ‘Bed’. It was for Auckland Theatre Company’s ‘Next Big Thing’ festival and it was such fun to make. It’s been a case of compartmentalising, so that when I leave one rehearsal to attend the next, I can fully focus on the project at hand. It’s good to be busy. I’m a lot more productive when I’m overwhelmed with work.

What advice do you have for anyone wanting to get into this industry – acting, producing or directing?
I began by being involved in un-paid theatrical projects I was interested in with people whose work I admired. It’s good to Invite agents/artists along to watch you and then try to arrange future work. There are some wonderful teachers who come to NZ to do workshops and it’s always great to try and put some money aside so that when those opportunities arrive, you can take part in them. And lastly, make your own work. It’s the most rewarding thing you could ever do and it’s far more productive than sitting at home complaining that you’re not getting any paid acting work. The more you make, the more chance you have of being seen by people you want to create within the future.

Finally, what are your plans for the rest of 2015?
I am helping Julia Croft make ‘If there’s not dancing at the revolution, I’m not coming’ – a performance collage that will take place at the Basement in September. I’m then off to Sydney/Melbourne for a month and am hoping to bring back to Auckland a show called ‘Gorge’ that I made with Phoebe Mason a few years back. Beyond that, I’m hoping to start up a female sketch group.

NOT PSYCHO | AUGUST 15 – 29 | Buy tickets here

been | I’ll Be Fine

Assembled by playwright Ben Wilson and director Ryan Knighton, “I’ll be Fine” left a heavy hand on my heart and I couldn’t be happier.

Best friends Brian (Ben Wilson) and Jude (James Russell) find themselves in a state of limbo that can only be described as the “post high school blues”. An air of middle-class privilege and existential crises makes it apparent that both of them are quite stuck. With neither sure of what to do with themselves, Jude presents a solution: a search for his biological father. With all the ingredients of a good kiwi road trip, a dodgy van and lemon chicken included, the boys set out on their way to eventual self-discovery.

En-route, we meet a dodgy drug dealer, an ex-schoolmate turned petrol attendee, and a grandfather who is slightly too nefarious for my liking. There are also glimpses of a younger sister Alice, and an ex-girlfriend Sarah, whose stories are both expertly unravelled by Wilson throughout the play.

As a writer, Wilson leaves nothing to be desired. Not only does he manage to encapsulate an entire generation’s emotions, he does them a great honour. Every word spoken rang true to so many that sat amongst the audience. Yet, there was never a moment where I thought “this is such a cliché”. Even the moments that were very typically Kiwi will have you shaking your head at just how accurate they are. This shows Wilson’s knack for homing in on reality, a trait that many writers seem to lose track of. It gives the play an air of relatability that sits with you after you leave. I found myself remembering the moments where I too had felt just as the boys do. Wilson is not only capable of writing two contrasting characters brilliantly, he has the ability to subtly build moments, creating climaxes that are unexpected and shocking in the best sense.

As a familiar face on the Wellington theatre scene, director Ryan Knighton has certainly concreted himself as someone to watch here in Auckland. He creates a flow between the narration and actuality with enjoyable interchanges which almost mirror Brian and Jude’s repartee. Knighton’s vision is well thought out, including a scene where there is a moment of separated duopoly. Jude and Brian perform soliloquies to the audience, interchanging line by line, which reaches into the audience with such poetic finesse that I still get chills when I think about it. He also creates an inception-like quality to a dream sequence Jude has about meeting this mysterious biological father that left me wondering whether it was just a dream, or was it reality. It shows just how well equipped Knighton is to direct such a play, being able to effectively portray insecurities of the characters through inspired performance conventions.

With a change of scenery from the Wellington shows, the smaller space at the Basement Theatre creates an intimate environment that is perfect for what the play has to offer. The set mainly consists of a sofa and the occasional suitcase: the height of minimalism. This allows for the wall of movie posters behind it to become the main feature. It ties in nicely with the love of film both Brian and Jude display throughout and had my inner film buff tingling with joy.  Wilson and Russell manage to turn the set into their third character, personified by scene painting that is both well directed and well portrayed.

I did have assumptions coming into a two-man play. I was unsure about the chemistry and whether or not each would deliver their performances equally. However, there is a saying about assumptions and it certainly put me in my place. Never have I seen two actors that feed off in other in such a way as Wilson and Russell. The two have an incredible energy about them, interchanging between rapid-fire banter, intense rage and good old kiwi bloke talk. Both cleverly bounce off of one another, with neither stealing the other’s limelight. The friendship of the boys is prevalent the entire way. Whether it is Brian jubilantly chattering whilst Jude is attempting to push the car up the hill, or Jude rambling on about his sorrow for sweet ex-girlfriend Sarah with an uncomfortable Brian squirming beside him, there was always a love between the two. It was refreshing to see a broken down construct of masculinity to allow both characters to be vulnerable with each other.

Wilson doesn’t seem the type to be overtly chatty but he pulled off Brian seamlessly. He emits that “just out of high school and I’m doing nothing with my life” attitude all too well and delineates the emotions to the point where you nod along in agreement because it really is true. It is easy to make the assumption that Wilson has characterised Brian as the comic relief: he talks at an almost impossible place, with an air of hyperactivity that is endearing and filled with an optimism that seems unfailing which only falters when brought back to earth by his complementary counterpart, Jude. Yet Wilson’s encompassing grasp of the role adds a depth that is less endearing and more devastating, with revelations of his past that left my heart, and my mouth, on the floor.

Whereas Wilson does encompass all things Brian, Russell metamorphosises into Jude. He has no problem inhabiting a sense of self-loathing and a quiet intensity that rivals Wilson’s energetic performance. Jude is the pessimist to Brian’s optimism that balances out the pair perfectly. Whilst I took Jude as the silent type, Russell builds this quiet intensity to a cataclysmic eruption as it is revealed Jude too has a warped past, the loss of love weighing heavy on his heart. This is where Russell is in his prime, allowing vulnerability to spill into his words and projecting emotion so flawlessly that I had to remind myself countless times that Jude is not James, he is Jude. Nonetheless, even in the more reflective moments, Russell emanates a subtle longing for a father that has you yearning to give Jude a hug and tell him that everything will be fine.

A poignant coming of age reflection on life after high school, catch Ben Wilson and James Russell in I’LL BE FINE this week at The Basement. Tickets and details here.

Contains strong language and mental health issues.

interviewed | Tom Eason

Since graduating from Drama school, Tom Eason has worked in devised theatre (collaborative creation), for his own production company as well as Red Leap.  Every year however, he’s made time to return to his alma mater to direct the First Year’s solo shows, and last year he won the Chapman Tripp Award for Best Male Newcomer.

This week he can be seen in Red Leap’s latest production, Dust Pilgrim.  We caught up with him over the weekend to find out more about it.

Tell us more about Dust Pilgrim.

It’s a physical theatre show. It can be hard to define what ‘physical theatre’, but I guess I would say it’s a show that puts emphasis on telling a story with elements other than words (although there is probably more dialogue in this than any other Red Leap show). Ella plays Panuello a young girl who is forced into a kind of servitude by her mother, played by Alison. I play a range of characters including the memory of the Father. We have been developing Dust Pilgrim since December 2014 when we had a two week workshop, we are now at the end of our ninth week of rehearsals, which is an enormous amount of time for a New Zealand devised show.

The imagery associated with this production is lovely – how will this translate on stage?

The show is devised, which means we start with a statement of intent rather than a script. When the photos were taken and the posters designed we thought those images would realise our statement of intent. Since then, though, the show has shifted to a much darker place.

What’s your role in the production? How are you preparing for it?

I am a devisor and performer in the show. Like I said we don’t start with a script, so we are all the writer in this process, writing through making scenes and improvising. With the performance season coming up I reckon I’ll be pushed pretty hard physically, but we warm up for about two hours every morning. Yoga and stuff.

You have an ongoing relationship with your Alma mater, can you tell us more about this?

I thought this was an ‘auto correct’ mistake, but then I looked it up and it is an actual phrase. Haha! I am very interested in how the industry of theatre can evolve and become more useful for people of my generation, not just entertainment. Through trying to bring about change in the industry I realise starting with young people is the most efficient use of energy. I am invested in how Toi Whakaari wants to develop artists. Their mandate is to output graduates who can both work inside the world as it stands and have the skills to shift it where it needs to go.

What do you have planned for the rest of 2015?

I am going to Christchurch after this! To rehearse two different children’s shows at once. One is to be performed in Christchurch for Kidsfest and is called The Heartless Giant, the other is touring to Dunedin’s Fortune Theatre and is called The Disaster Brothers.

Tom Eason performs in DUST PILGRIM at Auckland’s Q Theatre, Thursday 4 June – Saturday 13 June.