Nailed It – A Builder Play
Presented by: The Awkward Company
Written by: Aimee Dredge, Sam Lewis, and Tom Hayward
Directed by: Aimee Dredge, Sam Lewis, and Tom Hayward
Te Auaha, 17th Feb 2023
Reviewed by: Kate Morris
Opening night of the 2023 New Zealand Fringe Festival and the anticipation is building (pun intended). We’ve been invited to grab a hammer, take a smoko, and scoff a pie as we join the ragtag cast of builders in The Awkward Company’s brand-new play Nailed It – A Builder Play.
We open with the untimely demise of Pete-o, a 106-year-old tradie gone too soon. Knocking down the number of days without an incident from 3 to 0, Pete-o’s death summons the much-maligned safety inspector, Donald – or Quackers (Sam Lewis). I can still hear the audible sigh from tradies in the audience upon his arrival.
At the play’s heart, as is with most real-world tradie jobs, is the camaraderie. The audience becomes one of the work crew, as the loveable site manager Crusty (Tom Hayward) welcomes us, “Smithy, Robbo, Benny, Lenny…” to a new day on site. This is where we meet Pete-o’s replacement, the new apprentice Dylan (Aimee Dredge), but Dylan is not what the team expects. How will our boys handle their first woman comrade?
Dylan hopes to quickly gain their respect and no longer be seen as the ‘Sheila’ on site. But she must first fall victim to some classic tradie pranks of fetching ‘the long weight’ and the 1D10T planks.
The script is sharp as a tack, witty, and light-hearted, and performed stunningly by the entire cast. Still, rivers run deep with the writing; there is an underlying sensitivity which is highlighted in snippets of the characters’ bigger dreams and morals. Crusty loves to write musicals, Dylan doesn’t want to be a newbie forever, and Bubbles (Shauwn Peter Ethan Keil) is fiercely loyal to his trade and his team. There is also a highlight (literally, thanks to the hilarious utilisation of spot lighting by Ryan Holtham) of women in trade and apprenticeship opportunities from the play’s sponsors, BCITO.
A feel-good show with knock-out performances, pranks, pies, and Kiwi humour, The Awkward Company nailed it. Frank the Sentient Nail, the site mascot, was a bit wooden though.