Circa One has been turned into a man-cave, complete with a nude calendar – permanently set to July – a fridge full of beers and a Ryobi power drill for The Pink Hammer, being performed until early October. The show itself is a critique of Kiwi masculinity (of a sort), a bit of feminist fun (of a sort), and in-all just a very good time.

Ginette McDonald plays Helen, a hard-nose horse breeder, who has come to the workshop for a Pink Hammer class – teaching women construction alongside empowering them, or at least that’s what the brochure says. She’s joined by Louise (Anne Chamberlain), Siobhan (Harriet Prebble) and Annabel (Bronwyn Turei), who each have their own reasons for being at the class.

Which is when all things go a little bit wrong.

Maggie, the teacher of the class, has run off with their pre-paid course fees, and her husband Woody (Alex Greig), who doesn’t know much about teaching classes, let alone the empowerment of women, becomes rather obliged to teach the classes himself.

It’s the standard “five people in a room, all whom are snippy with each other” schtick, but given a bit of a fresh twist. It’s interesting to hold a mirror up to what we perceive as the ’empowerment of women’ and see it examined in such a way.

Are the four women, being taught by Woody (who is, narratively speaking, a bit of a dick) being empowered in their work at the end of the piece? I don’t know, but they end up making a pretty darn swell coffin, and some strong friendships along the way.

While all the actors were incredibly strong in this piece, and brought incredible layers to very tricky characters, I especially enjoyed Harriet Prebble as Siobhan. Carrying on with her boss, a married man, this character’s a little morally dubious but ultimately very likable. Prebble brings a kindness to the character, a genuine heart, and her singing during one part of the play is just lovely.

I’d also like to make mention of the excellent set design, by Daniel Williams, which melds all the best parts of a toolshed into an appropriate stage-based setting; dusty doors, a litany of tools, and a beer fridge that is not quite big enough. Tony Black adds an utterly gorgeous lighting design to the mix, which has some stunning early-morning and late-night states, and really helps contribute to the whole man-cave ‘feel’.

The Pink Hammer is undoubtedly a comedy, but it’s not afraid to dip into the melancholic occasionally, to great results. As an audience member, my perspective on some of the characters flip-flopped multiple times during the piece – at points I’d side with them, at others I couldn’t – and I think that’s the sign of really well-written characters, allowing viewers to discover and gain new perspectives as the story unfolds.

While the ending of the play does come on a little sudden, and I’d have loved for there to be less time jumps, The Pink Hammer does what you’d expect – it’s a very funny time with people in a toolshed, and you might just learn something about construction along the way.


The Pink Hammer is on at Circa Theatre in Wellington until the 5th of October, 2019.