$34 - $49
New Zealand Professional Theatre Premiere
Welcome to Appleton, Population 1,557.
Returning home after years away, GP Penny Anderson is shocked to discover that the famous Potato Race awards $1,000 prize money to men… but only $200 to women. Is this small rural community ready for the changes about to race towards it?
A punchy comedy about standing up for what you believe in, this uplifting story is proof that not all ‘troublemakers’ are created equal.
“Pure theatrical rambunctiousness which will tumble you into the night with sore hands and uplifted spirits.”
A New Comedy About Upsetting the Potato Cart
The humble potato is at the heart of social change in The Appleton Ladies' Potato Race, a punchy new comedy making its Aotearoa professional theatre premiere at The Court Theatre this August.
The small town of Appleton, population 1,557, may seem like an unlikely setting for debates over gender politics and societal equality, but change is racing toward Appleton. Returning home after years away, GP Penny Anderson is shocked to discover that the town’s famous Potato Race awards $1,000 prize money to men, but only $200 to women. Someone has to shake things up in this town, and Penny is that person.
Based on author Melanie Tait’s real-life experience, The Appleton Ladies' Potato Race is a story about standing up for what you believe in. Brimming with humour, honesty and small-town charm, Director Anthea Williams says, “there’s a lot of love in this story, and in this community.” She was drawn to the story not only for the humour, but for its heart. “In ways it is like a family but, as in families, that means there are also a lot of challenges.”
Appleton reflects the experience of any community confronted with change - that change may be uncomfortable for some, but well overdue for others. “How do we create change and discard the things that aren’t serving us, without losing what makes us special, strong and great? How do you take your community along with you? I think Appleton shows that change doesn’t have to be scary” Williams says.
The main event may be the town’s annual Potato Race, but the real story centres on how the five women preparing for it deal with the unexpected challenges it has raised, and the shifting dynamics of their old relationships with each other.
“This town is run by amazing, hard-working women of different generations” says Williams. “Penny is a smalltown girl who has done well – she’s coming home victorious in some ways, yet her life hasn’t worked out as she’d hoped.” The women in the community she returns to are her cousin and best friend, the two older women who basically brought them up and have been the stalwarts and champions of Appleton, and newcomer Rania. All have their own challenges in daily life, but Penny’s pursuit of potato-based equality betokens further disruption to some, whilst also promising new possibilities to others.
The actors behind the women of Appleton include Kathleen Burns (last seen in Sense and Sensibility) and Lynda Mulligan, both of whom starred in 2019’s The Pink Hammer under Williams’ direction; Donna Brookbanks and Anne Chamberlain, who have not performed with The Court for some years, and newcomer Katrina Baylis.
Although set in a rural Australian town, Williams believes that local audiences will easily recognise the similarities with their own communities. “Christchurch has rural communities right on its doorstep and a very strong local community who pull together, as they did after the earthquakes” she says. “There are a lot of families that really care about each other here, just as in Appleton.”
She also points out that “New Zealand is also a nation of travellers – lots of Kiwis travel and come back home. When they do, they have to work out what to bring back with them and what to leave behind”, just as Penny does.
The Appleton Ladies' Potato Race is currently in production as a movie, but Ōtautahi audiences don’t have to wait for a theatrical release to experience the warmth and humour of this funny, uplifting and energetic story.
- 5 August 2023: Opening night
- 7 August 2023: Forum - a special performance where audiences get to ask cast and crew questions after the show
- 8 August 2023: $20 Tuesday, on sale 9:30am Friday 4 August 2023
- 21 August 2023: Join playwright Melanie Tait and the cast of The Appleton Ladies’ Potato Race for a Q&A session after the 6.30pm show
- 26 August 2023: Matinee Communication Friendly performance at 2pm
- 9 September 2023: Closing night
We recognise the escalating expenses of daily life, which have introduced financial constraints on our capacity to relish leisure pursuits. Theatre, a unifying medium that facilitates the exchange of pivotal instants, entertainment, and sensory gratification, holds a special place.
The Court Theatre is committed to guaranteeing that the magic of theatre, along with the splendid productions meticulously crafted by our production team, artists, and performers, remains accessible to a wider audience. In light of this aspiration, we have taken the decision to curtail the ticket prices for the duration of the 2023 Season.
Standard Adult $49 Senior (65+) $49 Friends of The Court Theatre $49 Group (6+) 10% Discount* Child (under 18) $34 Student ID cardholders $34 Community Services or Hāpai Access cardholders $34 *Applies to Standard Adult, Friends, Child and Senior price tickets
The Appleton Ladies' Potato Race is included in your Super Subscription, or you can bundle it with at least two other shows to Build Your Own subscription.
If you want more to see more New Zealand premieres, you could create a Premiere Subscription with:
- Sense and Sensibility
- Be Like Billy
- Something Rotten!
If you want more some more laughs in your life, you could create a Shades of Comedy Subscription with:
- Sense and Sensibility
- Dance Nation
- Something Rotten!
Add on – Scared Scriptless, Scriptless Attempts and The Jesters’ Holiday Show
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To minimise the impact of possible Covid-related closures we employ understudies and swings for our cast and have contingencies to cover essential crew absences.
However, if a performance is affected by Covid and cannot go on, you will not lose out. We will attempt to rebook you to another performance in the show’s season or, if that is not possible, we can explore other options with you such as Court account credits or transferring your tickets to another show.
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Audience Reviews (3)