Review: Book Ends at HLT

Title: Book Ends
Written by: Roger Hall
Directed by Susanne Dell
Performed at: Howick Little Theatre
Stars: 4
Reviewed by: Kelly Teed

Walking into Book Ends at Howick Little Theatre, I wasn’t quite sure what to expect.

Director Susanne Dell had promised me a classic and relatable Kiwi comedy but part of me wondered just how funny watching six men in a coffee shop could really be.

The answer, in case you were wondering, is very.

The Cabin Fever Club is a collection of Gold Card-holding literary types who meet every Tuesday morning in the same place. Set over a period of four years, the group laments the ever-increasing reach of technology in everyday life and its impact on literature as they know it.

With just one location — outside the Sourdough cafe in Devonport — it would be easy to risk the audience becoming bored but the range and depth of characters ensured the audience remained enraptured.

Each character brought something special to the play with their various struggles and humour.

From Martin (Hamish Stevens), the freelance writer upset about Radio New Zealand no longer accepting stories for its Storytime segment, to Peter (Jason Catterall), the struggling actor who becomes desperate for work after his much-loved character is killed off Shortland Street.

Also part of the Cabin Fever Club are Bert, the former famous poet (Mark Campbell), Phil the playwright (Frank Woodside) , Jeff the novelist (John Moloney) and Paul Ashton the former editor (John Blair), who each come to learn and accept how the realms of art and media are changing with the advancement of technology.

Last but not least is Bron, the cafe manager played by Annie Roach, whose brief appearances fitted in nicely with the otherwise all-male cast and added an always-welcome extra dimension to the play

While I spent the entire show with a smile on my face, my personal highlight would be the lengths Bert goes to in order to receive female attention, leading to roars of laughter from the audience.

Book Ends is relatable, hilarious and, above all, a classic Kiwi comedy. I highly recommend heading down to see it yourself.

  • Book Ends is on at Howick Little Theatre until December 2. Tickets available from