Reginald Rose’s 12 Angry Men is now playing at 16th Avenue Theatre. This production, directed by Liam Hagan, is electrifying.

Masterful staging, aided by the terrific set and technical design, allows the audience to become part of the action – laughing, crying, and gasping along with the characters. To say the evening consisted of twelve men sitting around a table, the performance was riveting and engaging. When a play receives such an iconic film adaptation, it’s an easy and safe choice for a director to simply present the film on stage, plastering their name over another artist’s work. Liam Hagan easily forgoes that route. His direction of the piece strikes a clever balance between deference to the Sidney Lumet film and completely original interpretation of the text (notably, the work began life as a teleplay, and was first adapted for the stage years after the release of the Lumet film).

Hagan’s direction is sharp, humorous, sensitive, and captivating. Not a single line was wasted. The audience was right there with the characters from their entrance to their exit.

It’s quite a feat for a community theatre production to be able to cast twelve men (plus a cameo appearance from a thirteenth, and a voiceover from a fourteenth!) who have not a single weak link between them. The entire cast was in full force on opening night and, for the most part, their accent work was notably meticulous and convincing. Chris Parnell, Vincent Gambino, Wayne Gould, and newcomer Shaun Michael particularly bring a tangible sense of life and realism to their roles.

Matt Glover’s effervescent Juror No.Seven received some hefty chuckles from the audience, and Mike Williams was a very stoic and formidable Foreman of the Jury.

The loud, pig-headed Juror No. 3 is an easy role to overplay, but Liam Hagan effortlessly resists that temptation. The character is well-observed and perfectly subtle, even in the broader moments – a choice which pays dividends when Hagan releases the brakes and opens the floodgates in the character’s heartbreaking 11 o’clock monologue.

The show-stopping performance of the evening, however, was Brian O’Flaherty as the reserved Juror No. Eight. Every single word he uttered galvanised his (and we really were his) entire audience. I have never seen such an intoxicating, rousing performance. You could hear a pin drop (along with a very loud assortment of bottles, glasses, and cellphones) with each syllable. O’Flaherty’s is truly a performance not to miss.

There are few words to adequately describe the set, lighting, sound, and AV design (courtesy of Steve Sigley, Ben Hambling, and Mitch Sigley, respectively). From the first moments in the auditorium, the striking vision and cohesion of the technical elements creates a charged, dynamic atmosphere. Plenty of us stayed in the auditorium during the intermission just to get a better look at the set and soak up the rich environment.

I cannot recommend this production enough. Liam Hagan and the 16th Avenue team have captured lightning in a bottle with this one, so you’d better make sure you catch it. Get in quick, it’s selling like mad. Deservedly so.

Bailey Hocking

The Revlon Girl - reviewed by Jaden McLeod

The lights dim in the theatre. An ominous rolling sound can be heard approaching as rain patters outside.The set is excellent – a sparse room, soon to be filled with the pain, grief, hope and laughter of five women.

The Revlon Girl tells the story of a group of grieving mothers, whose children died in the 1966 Aberfan mining disaster. Set eight months after the tragedy, the women gather for a visit from a Revlon make-up girl. What follows is a moving story about guilt, grief and greed.

Expertly written by Neil Anthony Docking, the play is a compact performance, just under an hour-and-a-half long. Most impressive is Docking’s ability to bring you to tears, and just a split-second later have you in a fit of laughter.

Geraldine Broderick has yet again proven her talent as a director, creating a nuanced, pacy, heartfelt take on the award-winning play. The backstage team should be commended. The set, lighting and costuming are all outstanding. The company of actresses is most impressive. Their collective talent and commitment to the play shines through.

Gin Mabey gives a brilliant multi-layered performance as Rona, a woman raging against the world, as does Lisa Lauder, whose character Marilyn is desperately searching for answers – and peace. Mabey and Lauder are incredibly dynamic in their roles and provide great comedic moments.

Sarah Macintosh is excellent as Jean, the vicar’s wife, who is expecting another child. Her monologue about lost son Kevin will leave you in tears.

Tiffany Johnston takes on the title role of the Revlon Girl. An accomplished musical theatre actress, Johnston proves her considerable acting chops with this performance. She is integral to the piece, never leaving the stage.

Most integral of all is Zoë Cruse, whose character Sian is the heart of the play. Born in Wales, Cruse is a sublime talent and lifts the entire cast with her incredible energy and skill.

This play is not one to be missed. Make sure you take tissues! Tickets are on sale at iTicket, the show runs 15-30 October.


Mixed Doubles Review - by David Tauranga - The Sun

Considering marriage? Then you might want to head down to 16th Avenue Theatre this week to get an idea of what you’re in for.

The theatre company’s latest production Mixed Doubles, which is on stage until this Thursday, is a humorous and poignant comedy filled with plenty of ‘nawwww’ moments and is well worth the price of admission.

Written in 1969, itfeatures seven short sketches that are linked together by a series of monologues which have been penned by different authors who portray marriage at different stages of life.

Handling director duties are Sarah Oemcke, Merv Beets and Geraldine Broderick who each take the reins for several sketches. All three do a remarkable job, adding their own personal touches here and there to add to the show’s flavour while still maintaining its fluidity.

Each scene features two actors on stage, a minimal set and very clever lighting. It’s this stripped back quality I loved the most, it’s as if the audience is spying on two people caught up or trapped in moments that are very intimate and personal.

The casting of Mixed Doubles is also superb, the actors do a brilliant job in portraying their characters who are afflicted by everyday trivialities, their pasts, their jobs and their marital problems.

It would have been easy to present caricatures, but they all presented their characters in a very three-dimensional way and with much dignity and respect which I adored.

Mixed Doubles is a treasure trove of life both seen and unseen that’ll leave you both laughing out loud an in deep contemplation.

The Hits Review - Scarlet Women

Sexual Innuendo: “There’s no use in pouting, because the ‘tiles’ need grouting”. I cannot tell you how much of a fan of innuendo I am. Doing a radio show means you survive on it. Scarlet Women Come Again is a goldmine for me in that department. But you don’t have to work in radio to appreciate the amount of work that has gone in to walking a line between down-right dirty and not being too subtle in this 16th Ave theatre production! Let me hit you with some more: ‘I like my whiskey like my men; aged and mellow’, ‘If he looks like Simon Bridges, we’re putting wine in our fridges’, ‘All I want for Christmas is a one night stand’. Good times! The close atmosphere of the 16th Ave Theatre makes that tiny bit of awkwardness when someone says a rude word on stage amplified 10 fold! The Scarlet Women span a myriad of ages and genres. As someone on their early 30’s it reminded me that no matter what the advancement of your years, you never forget how to be cheeky and a little risqué, in fact I’m starting to think that side of things starts to get more vocal as you age! Also confirmed to me is that women are filthy. Let me explain; a group of ladies singing naughty songs to a bigger group of ladies who have been drinking for most of the evening (the bar at the theatre was well used), always ends in knowing laughter! If you’re keen to let your public persona go (we all have one, don’t lie to yourself) and have a laugh about things we’ve all probably thought about and might have been lucky enough to experience, then go and see this show. Oh and the chocolate gateaux during intermission is bloody delicious. Will Johnston

Scarlet Women - The Hits

Scarlet Women Review – The Hits

The Weekend Sun Review - Scarlet Women

Sex, bits and relationships on stage

I had the pleasure of meeting the nine sassy, playful and cheeky Scarlet Women on the 16th Ave Theatre stage for the first time this week. Having not been exposed to the original Scarlett Women in 2012, I didn’t really know what to expect of the sequel to the saucy, yet sophisticated, musical. I should have paid more attention to the bold warning on the brochure which read: ‘Some content may offend’. But I wasn’t offended in the slightest… more entertained. Directed by Ian and Merv Beets, the risqué cabaret-style ‘Scarlett Women Come Again’ is all about age, men, sex and personality – followed by women, revenge, relationships and Christmas. Sitting next to my mum, we were informed by the sharply dressed Master of Ceremonies Alan Baker not to take any photos of the performance. He said: “If there’s going to be any flashing, it will be done on stage”. At this point I was slightly worried the group of women giggling away in Santa hats after a dinner and a few wines, who mum and I had met entering the theatre, were going to start exposing their delicates. They refrained. Anyway, on with the show, I take my hat off (the rest of me will remain clad), to the nine Scarlet Women. Singing about sex, bits and relationships in saucy costumes must have been daunting. But these ladies did it with style and class. In fact, being a dancer myself – they made me want to pull on my heels and a sparkly get-up to join them under the spotlight. The women were extremely talented and their voices: stunning. Mum and I had many giggles throughout the show – and so did those around us judging by the boisterous laughter coming from almost every seat. Overall I loved this show. Scarlet Women is showing at 16th Ave Theatre until December 13 – check it out! Zoe Hunter

Scarlett Women - The Weekend Sun

Scarlett Women Review – The Weekend Sun

The Weekend Sun Review - Skin Tight

A story of love, war and growing old

“I thought love was supposed to be easy” – this was the quote that played over and over in my head after seeing Tauranga Repertory Theatre’s opening night of ‘Skin Tight’ this week.

But the play, written by New Zealand playwright Gary Henderson and directed by Michelle McAnultry-Smith, proved to me that although love may seem skin tight – there are imperfections.

Inspired by Dennis Glover’s poem ‘The Magpies’, ‘Skin Tight’ is a story of Tom and Elizabeth, their farm, war, love, and growing old, played by husband and wife team Alan and Dallas Baker.

At Wednesday’s opening night, the play bought both physical and mental challenges for the two-person cast, from knife-wielding to play fighting and the emotional sharing of secrets. The performance, a single scene lasting about an hour, was a rollercoaster of intermit emotions – somewhat awkward to watch sitting next to my mum.

I’m going to be honest and say the passionate acting from Alan and Dallas left me, at times, wondering if I should be sitting in the same room while the lights dimmed and they locked lips – but I applaud their brave and realistic stage performance, particularly in the scene where the married couple tossed teasing comments about each other’s faults back and forth.

Overall I’d say the play was definitely different, but very entertaining. Skin Tight is showing at 16th Ave Theatre until September 6 – go and see the drama, romance, and comedy for yourself.

Skin Tight - The Weekend Sun

Skin Tight – The Weekend Sun


BOP Times Review - Skin Tight

Challenging story cuts to the quick

  • August 27 – September 6
  • 16th Ave Theatre
  • Written by Gary Henderson
  • Directed by Michelle McAnulty-Smith
  • Supported by Merv Beets

Not for the faint-hearted, Skin Tight is a raw and intimate play which takes you inside the home of Tom and Elizabeth, a South Canterbury farming couple in the late 1950’s. The 50 minute dialogue ventures into the best and worst of the couple’s life together and you’re taken on a whirlwind of emotions from laughter to a tear or two.

However through the ups and downs of their marriage, their extremely close bond and deep love for each other resounds honestly and captures the trials of any marriage. Once you overcome the bizarre feeling that you are a fly on the wall intruding in someone else’s bedroom, you become more part of the play than a spectator. Genuine laughter is shared among the audience when the couple exchange the personal conversations which many can relate to in their bedrooms.

Married couple Alan and Dallas Baker do the characters of Tom and Elizabeth proud with their real connection translating well on to the stage. As a spectator you respect their courage to take on a heavy play and share their own relationship to portray another. As Elizabeth’s time to go approaches, the heartbreak feels real and would be a challenging scene for a married couple to go through together every night.

Touching on everything from the beauty and challenges of farming life, troubled relationships and war, Skin Tight is a story the older generations may relate to and an important story for the younger generation to experience. As a confrontational and raw theatre experience, you come out feeling quite drained and pensive, but privileged to be let into the lives of Tom and Elizabeth for a night. I’ve heard a lot of stories  from my Grandparents about their lives and their  parents lives on rural New Zealand farms years ago but after seeing Skin Tight I felt I had been given the chance to go back in time to see them first-hand.

Recommended for a mature audience to appreciate the sincere and powerful story of just one couple.

Rebecca Savory

Skin Tight - BOP Times

16th Ave Theatre – Skin Tight Review – BOP Times

The Hits Review - Run for your Wife

Run for your wife – Run to see it!

I’ve always been under the impression that men are barely smart enough to handle having one wife at a time. Run for Your Wife proves my theory right! Firstly let me take my monogamous hat off to a great cast and Director of this 16th Ave Theatre production. Can you imagine complicated it would be learning the lines, let alone directing, a play with the following plot: John Smith (Gavin Kerr) is a cabby in the UK, he has two wives; Mary (Sam Martin) and Barbara (Olivia Nightingale). The play is set on one stage, split down the middle in to the lounges of his two kept addresses. Neither of his wives know about the other. For three years this man has kept a strict schedule of bigamy! One night he helps an old lady who’s being mugged, gets a crack over his head for the trouble and ends up in hospital. The ensuing chaos of keeping his two lives/wives separate in the midst of police enquiries, inquisitive reporters and a brilliant idiot of an old man (Stanley, played by Simon Butler) in the flat upstairs, is hilarious. This play starts out reasonably slowly, which is actually a good thing, the pace increases steadily throughout as the lies grow both in complexity and ridiculousness. At one stage John turns in to a newspaper-eating gay man who has two wives, one a nun and the other a transvestite. All in the name of keeping his secret intact. The best part of the show is how they make a really complicated situation really simple to understand and genuinely funny at the same time. Gavin Kerr smashed it. He plays a player pretty well, to the point where it makes me wonder whether he’s actually had some experience of the situation in real life! Not that I’m an expert at it, I’m digging a hole here. Ummmmm. Let’s move on! Gavin has that knack for making parts of a script seem ad-libbed. He’s described at one stage as an ‘over-sexed numble bee’. That pretty much says it all, he’s frantically buzzing from place to place and lie to lie! My favourite character is Stanley Gardner – the old guy in the flat upstairs, played by Simon Butler. You know Father Jack, from ‘Father Ted’? Stanley is like a coherent, less drunk, funnier version of him! His physical comedy is expert! He’s the guy that has lies thrust upon him to keep the cheating going, through those lies he’s a farmer, husband, father, gay lover of John & unemployed bum! There were points where I just looked at him on the stage and laughed. He had me on a string. The two wives nail their role of having the wool pulled over their eyes, they contrast each other well. The cops move the story along with ease, and the fruity, lanky gentlemen from upstairs pushes the play to excellently awkward levels. Don’t run from your wife. Take her to this show. Will Johnston

Run for your Wife - The Hits

16th Ave Theatre – Run for your Wife review, The Hiits

The Weekend Sun Review - Are you being Served?

Serving up a barrel of laughs all night

This week I had the pleasure of meeting pussy-loving Mrs Slocombe, the ever-pompous Captain Peacock and always “free” Mr Humphries.If you don’t know who I’m talking about then you, like myself, have probably never watched the much-loved British sitcom ‘Are You Being Served?’. But on Wednesday night, with no idea what to expect, myself and three friends sat down at 16th Avenue Theatre to check out their stage adaption of the show. And here’s my pun for the day – they sure served up a barrel full of laughs. For those of you who don’t know ‘Are You Being Served?’ is set in the ladies’ and gentlemen’s clothing departments of Grace Brothers, a fictional London department store. This adaption sees owner Mr Grace close the store down for repairs and treat his staff to a “luxurious” holiday abroad. I probably don’t have to tell you that their luxury holiday does not pan out exactly as they had hoped…. All of the lovable characters are there, including my new favourite Mrs Slocombe, who harbours secret desires for a male companion and wears undies stamped with the Union Jack and the lovable, “always free” senior assistant in the menswear department: Mr Humphries. Played spectacularly by Robert Ashford-White, Mr Humphries really steals the show. Whether he’s battling useless clients on the phone, or dressing up in Mrs Slocombes’ dressing gowns, he had the audience in stitches all night. The cast and crew did a fantastic job all-round of offering classic comedy – whether they were singing in the toilet or adorning blue wigs and German outfits two sizes too small. Whether you’re a seasoned fan of the show, or a newbie like me, 16th Avenue Theatre’s production is a guaranteed giggle. And if the full house on Wednesday was anything to go by, the show will be a super success. Corrie Taylors Weekend Sun

Are you being Served? - The Weekend Sun

16th Ave Theatre – Are you being Served? review – The Weekend Sun

BOP Times Review - Talking Heads

Moving tales go deep into soul

Review: An evening of Talking Heads – Rehab Theatre Green Room Produtions. Two of the six monologues written by the British playwright Alan Bennett for the Talking Heads series can be seen and heard this week during a special Rehab Green Room Production at the 16th Ave Theatre. First produced for BBC television in 1988, Talking Heads monologues also appeared on the West End Stage in London in 1992 and 1998. They are extraordinary portraits of ordinary people, presented with razor-sharp wit and deeply felt humanity. The show is directed and produced by Jez Jones for Rehab Productions and features Christine Giddens and Geraldine Broderick. In each monologue, Soldiering On and Bed Among the Lentils, a woman bares her soul and talks about a period in her life that changed her forever. Soldiering On presents the initially wealthy and slightly naive Muriel, played by Geraldine Broderick. After her husband’s passing, Muriel tries to deal with her daughter’s mental illness while her son ruins her financially. But she is strong, so she soldiers on. Christine Giddens, a familiar face on the 16th Avenue Theatre stage, plays Susan in Bed Among the Lentils. Susan is an alcoholic vicar’s wide who distracts herself from her husband and his doting parishioners by starting an affair with her 26-year-old Indian grocer. She learns something about herself and God along the way. Mixing the comic and the tragic, these tales show human fragility and Geraldine and Christine bring this intimate style of theatre in an exceptional way. Martin Rolls

Talking Heads - BOP Times

16th Ave Theatre – Talking Heads review – BOP Times

BOP Times Review - Calendar Girls

Tasteful nudity meets flawless performances

Calendar Girls 16th Ave Mild nudity met genuine quality and heart at Tim Firths Calendar Girls on Wednesday night. Directed by Julie Lankshear and starring a mixture of theatre regulars and newcomers, the play expands on Firth’s script, based on a real group of fundraising Yorkshire women around the turn of the century. It does the film and all those involved in the production justice, flowing seamlessly through the final seasons of the excellent Warren Atkinson’s turn as John and into the grieving members of the Women’s institute risqué attempt to raise funds for a new settee for the hospitals visiting room. When it arrives the nudity is tasteful and clever, the revelations coming one after another just before the interval like the sweetest of punchlines. With such a well-known story the plot inevitably takes a back seat to the performances that were strong throughout. Christine Giddens barely left a dry eye in the house as Widow Annie, and again formed a lovely repartee with Geraldine Broderick’s generally unreliable, spotlight-loving Chris. That dynamic formed the backbone, allowing a collection of well-rounded characters inhabited by actors making their 16th Ave debuts to find their strides easily. The returning Allison Stewart as Marie was full of energy but suitably restrained as a stuck-up, social climbing institute head with a common streak, while Lauren Cowgill – a real Yorkshire girl, no less – was charming and impressive while singing and playing the piano. Benny Ron, another on debut at the theatre, was appropriately likeable and crude in the dual roles of Lawrence and Liam, while the rest of the cast performed admirably on a near faultless opening night. Review by Ben Guild

Calendar Girls - BOP Times

16th Ave Theatre – Calendar Girls review, BOP Times