REVIEW: ‘Shoes’ by Sebastian Byrne

Written & Directed by Sebastian Byrne
Hamilton Fringe Festival 2016
@ The Meteor / 3-5 March

So I saw Shoes at The Meteor last night, the debut production of both director/writer Sebastian Byrne and creative collective Gnarly Teapot.

Let me start by saying that writing a play of any length is difficult at the best of times. I can’t even imagine how stressful it must be to be the writer, director and lead actor of a show. I grind my teeth into oblivion with just one job to do!

I’d also like to point out that if it weren’t for the ambitions and risks of young people like Gnarly Teapot, Fringe theatre in Hamilton wouldn’t continue to flourish the way it does currently.

Set in a fast-paced night club, the experience began with a stamp from Tim Kapoor’s disinterested Bouncer. Stoked quips were exchanged between my friend and I about not getting ID’d, and I was instantly sold on the premise. Shoes shows great promise with some accomplished moments of depth, comedy, and relatability.

Unlucky-in-love Ryan, played by Andrew Lyall brought a natural touch that the play needs, even with opening night jitters.

A backlit window arrangement was a clever direction to head in by designer Evie McHugh. (Unfortunately, I was witness to a three-second moment of the director’s shadow slowly lifting a finger to his lips to ‘shush’ another actor; which can be a danger of director doubling up as cast.)

We then line up to embark upon many of the strangers one expects to meet in a play about a night club. The girl whose only goal is to get laid; the group of girls with the guy for his promise of free drinks; the weird guy who’s going to end up getting with the girl who wants to get laid…

Despite some of the cliche, Shoes wouldn’t have been complete without its array of recognisable miscreants.

Then there’s the never-in-a-million-years love story… Between Sam (Alice McConnochie) and Dominic (Sebastian Byrne), the story is underdeveloped or possibly rushed. Alice is beautiful, and she delivers one of the best stage slaps I’ve ever seen, but her character is annoying and unresolved.

Between Ryan and The Foreign Girl (Toni-Elizabeth Green), the story is rather sweet, and as audience members we get it, but we don’t buy it. – Spanner-in-the-works/threat to this love story/unnamed cameo character was played by Liam Hinton, whom I would like to have seen switch roles with Sebastian who aesthetically would have been a better fit for the part.

Usually I find casting Antony Aiono for his comedic ability to be somewhat arbitrary, but as the title character he was a shining light in the play’s opening of dodgy dialogue that didn’t quite encapsulate the way young people speak to each other.

But, the question that sings loudest in my head though: WHY IS IT CALLED SHOES?!?! Obviously the character and the punch line… But, is that it?

While it seems like I may have griped my way through this critique, I think Gnarly Teapot should be really proud of what they’ve put together, and everything they’ve learned along the way.

I for one, will be watching the progress of these youngsters with great enthusiasm, and encourage anyone else to do the same.



I say “I love you” all the time

Sometimes I wonder if I say “I love you” too much.

To my Mum, every time I leave her sight. To my friends, every time we part ways. To the children I call nieces and nephews, even though they really aren’t. To my brothers and sisters. To the boy I loved too much, and the girl I couldn’t love enough.

I say it all the time and sometimes it comes at a cost, but I would rather have said it too often, than to never be able to say it again.

I nearly died in late November 2006.

The ambulance officers, the nurses at the hospital, and the surgeons told my mother and my two best friends that I probably wasn’t going to make it.

We’d just gone for a drive in my newly bought first car, a 1990 Nissan Maxima.

“Never seen the Coromandel,” we said.

We’d picked up towels for a midnight swim and Michael Jackson crooned to us, standing with the man in his mirror.
“We’re going the wrong way, you guys.”

We weren’t even halfway there. So I pulled over on the No 1 Road halfway between Morrinsville and Te Aroha. I checked the long straight road, and there was nothing. No lights, no sounds, just darkness.

I pulled into a U-turn that I couldn’t complete without getting too close to the ditch on the other side of the road, so I reversed a little …

My version of the story stops there. I woke up five days later in the intensive care unit of Waikato Hospital, under the fine care of the Waikato trauma service.

Another car had been on the dark road that night, another human being I hadn’t accounted for. As I had reversed to clear the ditch, someone else’s Suzuki Swift ploughed straight into the driver’s door of my car.

With the exception of knowing I was taken care of at the scene by the amazing Morrinsville Volunteer Fire Service, and the St John Ambulance crew, I can’t tell you what happened after that. Only that I know how scary it is to wake up nearly a week later unable to move, with tubes and wires connected to every part of you.

Thankfully, neither my friends nor the lady whose car had hit me, were physically hurt. I had no external injuries, though internally I was a mess.

I had a shattered pelvis, several broken ribs, and I broke one of the bones at the bottom of my skull. I had a perforated rectum, bladder, right ovary, right kidney, and liver. I also paralysed my right leg from the knee down.

It would be easy to express an expletive now, and wonder how a person can come through something like that. But I did come through it.

There was a five-month stay in hospital, and a battle with the lonely depression that came with it; but it has been over seven years since what I call “the day I lived”.

Seven years, and I would consider myself the happiest I have ever been. I still have to use crutches to get around, but it’s a small price to pay for being alive.

And little did I know there was a far worse day coming for my family and I.

As if by some cruel twist of fate we lost my troubled younger brother to suicide the day before I was due to be released from the hospital.

So I got out a night early. Suddenly my problems were no longer problems. I would take the pain and suffering of those five months every day for the rest of my life if it meant having my brother with us still.

So I say “I love you”, all the time.

I say it when people don’t want to hear it. I say it at inappropriate times. I say it even when I feel uncomfortable saying it because I will never allow the chance to pass me by.

I love you. And I want to always be sure that you know, before it ever gets to the point of being too late.


As seen on by me – 31/03/2014

297 – An Explanation

So, I made it to Poem #296. Two hundred and ninety-six contributions to art, and life, and beauty, and love.
And I didn’t quite follow through with the plan: “Write one poem for every day of 2013.”
I didn’t really even get very close.

But I was the winner.

I wrote more than I did during the Great Glandular Fever Epidemic of 2012.
And I found out who I am. What I want. What I love. HOW I love. Why I love.

I discovered the paths to hearts all over the world.
I was inspired by worldful’s of other people’s art.
I was spoken to by the words of another’s heart.

I also let go of a lot of hurt.
I put it into words.
And I got it down into this collection of things everyone should know.
Because a loosening grip is harder than holding on.
And because loving something means at some point letting it go.


Thank you for taking this journey with me. Thank you for supporting me through my shortcomings, and encouraging me through whatever success.

Jan 2 (1)

Best Moment Award


So, a wee while back someone commented on this blog and honoured me with the Best Moment Award. Now, I can’t remember who that person was, or what the requirements of the award were, so I’m branching out and making this one up as I go.

Firstly, thank you to that person who thought my writing was something enough to stop and say so. I’m forever grateful for the wonderful people who read my work.

Secondly, thank you to the writers I consistently read, and whom offer inspiration even though they don’t know they are doing it. I pass this award on to them and their tireless efforts to make the world a more enlightened place. Please take a moment to stop by their blogs and read their musings, I swear you won’t be let down.

Alexander Pseudonym  – who intriguingly remains a great mystery.
Electrical Banana by Matthew Phillip O’Malley – for always saying things the way I want them to be said.
An Electric Journal of a Castaway by Ruann Weidemann – who seems to see the world like I do.
The Dimwit Diary – for being a dimwit, and never being hard work.


Sfoxwriting by Steven Fox – because he’s ambitious, and clinical, and a lot of things I’m not.

Thank you again, and happy blogging!


Another Apology

Hello my friends, fellow poets, and general bloggerverse.

So, this weekend I’ve had a mix of auditions, and callbacks for a show in which I am the production secretary. I also had the writer in attendance at a full day of rehearsing a play of which I am the stage manager. Needless to say, I’ve had less than zero time for poetry in the last 48 hours. I’ll make up for it tomorrow though I swear!




Liebster Award

Hey bloggers. Thank you to the dear Emily Anne for nominating me for the Liebster Award for New Blogs. I know to a lot of you my blog isn’t that new, but hearing that my work means something to someone is appreciated all the same. I can’t hardly believe how kind y’all are! Also, a MASSIVE thank you to anyone who has shared/retweeted/Facebook-ed my poetry. You know who you are, and your support turns me on. 😀


So, there are a bunch of rules, and things you’re supposed to do when presented with the Liebster Award, but since I was nominated for something else so recently, sharing so much more about me so soon would be a bit tedious, for me and for you! So, I’ll hit you with the rules, and I’ll hit you with a couple of my fave poetry blogs to check out. Thank you all again, from the bottom of my heart for your continued encouragement! Much respect.

The Rules:

1. Thank the person who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2. Post 11 facts about yourself, answer the 11 questions you were asked and create 11 questions for your nominees.
3. Nominate 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.
4. Display the Liebster Award logo.


1. Apples or oranges?

2. Dogs or cats?

3. Coke or Pepsi?

4. Psych or The Mentalist?
Ooh, I don’t know what Psych is, so The Mentalist by default!

5. Mac or PC?

6. If you were to have your ashes scattered post-death, where would you like to be scattered?
Probably on the grounds of my home theatre. Or Ireland, just because I’ve been obsessed with the place since I was 12.

7. If you could miniaturize one person, real or imaginary, and carry them around in your pocket–who would that person be?
Can I make them life-size again whenever I want? If so, this leads on from my last answer. Brendan Brady. (Who isn’t real, but if he were…)

8. Floss before or after brushing your teeth?

9. If you could do one thing with no consequences, what would it be?
Bring back my little brother from Heaven.

10. Ever watch Workaholics? If not, you should.

11. What’s your life motto?
“In three words I can describe everything I have learned about life; it goes on.” – Robert Frost

And now for a couple of the blogs I’ve been reading quite regularly. There’s only four, and I chose them special, so if you didn’t check them the last time I suggested it, you definitely should now! 😉

You’ll hear from me again in a few hours with today’s poem!

Very Inspiring Blogger? Pfft, You Are!

Oh man, someone liked me enough to nominate (I guess you would call it) me for this ‘Very Inspiring Blogger’ award!  I’m falling over myself with gratitude lady! Thanks for being inspired by my words, and thanks for inspiring me. Go check Emily’s blog Unkilled Darlings, she’s dope, and her words are dope-r.



So, of course, with most good things come a few conditions, which I think is a flippin’ swell way of linking good writers, to other good writers, and just publicly appreciating the work they do. Writing may come naturally to these people, but I assure you, the bearing of ones soul through poetry, and art does not. It’s more the price we pay to express ourselves. Kudos to these writers for sharing their amazing work. It’s not an easy thing to do.

The Rules:

Display the award logo.
1. Link back to the person who nominated you. 
2. State 7 things about yourself. 
3. Nominate 15 other bloggers for this award and link to them. 

7 things about me:

1. I don’t consider it a “phobia” because I’m not scared of it per se, but I have a deep loathing, and disgust for wet, soggy paper.

2. ‘The Outsiders’ by S.E Hinton is my favourite book of all time. I think it instilled in me the values I have for loyalty, family, and friendship.

3. I generally don’t like tomatoes, but will eat them cooked in a dish.

4. I don’t have an all time favourite poet, but John Keats, or Pablo Neruda would come very close.

5. My friends called me an “emo” once upon a time; my fave band is still Dashboard Confessional.

6. I want to marry (or at least end up with)  someone who can play music to/for/at me.

7. I swear a lot. Probably too much.

15 Bloggers (Who Run the World)
[and in no particular order]

1. Unkilled Darlings
(I know I already linked to her, but she’s actually just brilliant enough to mention twice!)

2. Alexander Pseudonym
(Possibly my favourite online poet. There is something sexy about the anonymity, and something thrillingly  mysterious about the words.)

3. An Electric Journal of a Castaway

4. Kashka Tunstall
(Kashka is Hamilton’s first ever ‘Poetry Idol’, AND an all-round great gal.)

5. Kim Fulton
(I studied with this girl. Seriously, she has a way with words. You want to know about her.)

5. Matthew Phillip O’Malley
(This guys words will make you want to fall in love; in a fun, have-a-laugh-with-yourself-and-the-world way.)

6. Andy Beau

7. Words of Birds

8. Immature Fruit

9. 4am Writer

10. Knoes

11. Redcoats VS
(A badass online comic that a guy from my town is slowly working on.)

12. Helen Lehndorf
(Amongst the very first to notice, and publish my poetry.)

13. Ky Grabowski

One Thousand Single Days

15. Corn Goblin

Thanks for stopping by to peruse, you babes! Have a safe, and drunk St. Paddy’s. xo -M

Some comment on the weather

So, summer hiatus is coming to an end and grown up life is starting. Both Christmas and New Year’s were the best I can remember; (for a while at least…)

Christmas was small children, early mornings, the first ever trifle I’ve ever made, food, toys, and family. Having told us they were going camper-vanning around Australia, my favourite uncle and his hundred-times cool wife/my aunt Emma, and my three wee cousins surprised us by arriving unexpectedly on our doorstep the week before Christmas.

The remains of ‘Christmas Croissants’
Whanau, whanau: Aunty Jack, big, little brother Alex, Unkie Matt (kinda), Tom, and Toby.

Now it’s back to working, and writing, and thinking about stuff I hadn’t thought about before; like the brilliance of Hugh Laurie. How did I not realise until recently how amaze he is? (I know, ‘amaze’ isn’t an adjective.) ‘Fry and Laurie’ was genius for it’s time!

Usually I have an idea of how a year’s going to pan out, but this year I have no idea. I am applying for jobs. And going to finish a play, write more poetry and hopefully get a job.

My voice is back.

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