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Letter to Blanchy : Stir Crazy

Letter to Blanchy : Stir Crazy

A New Stage for McPhail & Gadsby

David McPhail and Jon Gadsby – two names synonymous with New Zealand comedy - adapt their award-winning television show Letter to Blanchy for The Court Theatre in the world première of their stage play LETTER TO BLANCHY: STIR CRAZY.

Be it through recognition of the foibles of the characters, sympathy for the plight of the unwilling bedfellows, or simply relief that it isn’t them, this play has something to amuse and entertain everyone, and demand is already high for tickets. Audiences are urged to book quickly in order to enjoy a brand-new – and uniquely kiwi - comedy from two of the country’s finest.

This production marks a number of firsts for the comic duo: it is the first time McPhail and Gadsby have acted in a full-length play together, it is their first co-writing effort after almost a decade since television series such as A Week of It, McPhail & Gadsby, and Issues; and it is the first time they have revisited the characters created for the much-loved comedy classic Letter To Blanchy.

Ross Gumbley directs McPhail and Gadsby in their signature roles of Derek and Barry, joined by Tom Trevella as put-upon friend and brother-in-law Ray. Veteran actor David Weatherley completes the comic quartet in the role of Col (Derek’s horse trainer) whose marital strife, off-key singing and “trouble with the waterworks” has already frayed nerves before the four characters arrive at the ominously-named “Starvation Hut” for a spot of fishing. Soon after arrival, torrential rain and flooding cuts off the only means of escape, trapping the group together in a tramping hut. As the rain continues to pour, tensions rise until even the most trivial of pursuits may be the catalyst for catastrophe.

The original teleplay for Sojourn at Starvation Hut won a New Zealand Television and Film Award for Best Comedy Script and the stage potential immediately struck the pair. “When we were writing the script we felt it would make a good play”, says Gadsby. “It felt like one in many ways because the action is character-driven and takes place in one location,” adds McPhail “so it stuck in our minds as something we could do in the future”.

When approached about a potential stage project by The Court Theatre’s Artistic Director Ross Gumbley, the pair mentioned the idea of adapting Letter to Blanchy for the stage. Gumbley, a long-time fan of the series, immediately leapt at the concept. “One of the rules of comedy is to put your characters where they don’t want to be - the more socially awkward the situation, the better,” says Gumbley. “Jon and David know this well and make it the comic motor for LETTER TO BLANCHY: STIR CRAZY.”

McPhail and Gadsby set about adapting a 21-minute teleplay into a full-length script and realising the comic potential of the scenario. “The result is one of the funniest things I think they’ve written.” says Gumbley. “You can believe the escalating insanity as they’re forced to share this tiny cabin for days. Their personalities collide and as the tension builds the more we laugh.”

In an extended season to cope with demand, LETTER TO BLANCHY: STIR CRAZY plays at The Court Theatre from March 29 –May 17 with advance bookings already snapping up seats. Christchurch audiences are clearly leaping at the chance to be trapped in The Court Theatre with David McPhail and Jon Gadsby as they take their comic genius to a brand new stage.

LETTER TO BLANCHY: STIR CRAZY by David McPhail and Jon Gadsby
Directed by: Ross Gumbley
Venue: The Court Theatre, Christchurch
Cast: Jon Gadsby, David McPhail, Tom Trevella, David Weatherley
Production Dates: 29 March – 17 May 2008
Performance times: 6pm Monday / Thursday; 7:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday (no show Sundays).
2pm matinee Saturday 5 April
Tickets: Adults $37, Senior Citizens $32, Tertiary Students $23, School Children $15, Group discount $31
Bookings: The Court Theatre, 20 Worcester Boulevard; 963 0870 or


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