Why Are They Singing? A Musical Comedy Show (2022)

I appeared in two of these shows produced by Troubadette at Good Times Comedy Club (where I also regularly perform stand-up comedy and variety acts).

A Midsummer Night’s Dream (2022)

I played a very camp “Starveling the Tailor” in this incredible production by Top Dog Theatre at the Isaac Theatre Royal.

“Shakespeare for the 21st century, with cellphones and gender swapping” – The Press

Flute screaming in an apron, Puck looking on mischievously, Bottom screaming with donkey ears, and Starveling looking terrified.

The Boys in the Band (2021)

I played the lead role of Michael in Riccarton Players’ production of the original two-act play (now known for its one-act Broadway revival and Netflix adaptation). The cast was a joy to work with.

Exploring this complex queer character was a dream come true! It was tragic to dive into the mind of a gay man in the 1960s who was trying to come to grips with “why” he was gay, grappling with alcoholism, and so bitter and hurt that he lashed out at his closest friends. More than any other role, it allowed me to pull from the deep emotional reserves of my own queerness.

It was magical to see the hidden humour in Michael’s lengthy, emotional monologues come alive in front of an audience. Mart Crowley knew what he was doing!

Mark Darbyshire as Michael crying and being held by his partner Donald (played by Rob Mattson) in The Boys in the Band.

Ironing Man (2020–2021)

This was my debut solo show. It premiered at the 2020 Nelson Fringe Festival (which unfortunately had to move online due to covid). Later that year it played to a packed house at Little Andromeda for one night only. I reprised it for several nights in 2021 with Canterbury Repertory Theatre’s oNeZies, finally giving the show a chance to breathe and evolve over multiple performances.

The show presents musical theatre and ironing as outlets that help me along the journey from Christianity and being in the closet through to embracing science (the villain!) and my own gayness, with love, heartbreak, and climate change along the way.

“Flat-out foray into pressing matters with an astonishing musical repertoire” – Ruth Allison, Theatreview

“A downright scandalous affair of appliances” – Jordon Jones, Backstage Christchurch

Mark wielding an iron salaciously.

Improv Sundae (2020)

This show by Impulse Theatre played at Good Times Comedy Club. It was a rare foray into short-form improv, with most of our shows having stayed very much on the long-form side of the fence.

Death and Biscuits (2020)

Sketch show at Little Andromeda featuring lots of dark comedy.

Cosy Comedy (2019)

This show at Little Andromeda is where I debuted the six-minute variety act that soon evolved into my 50-minute solo show Ironing Man.

Canvas Sketches (2018–2019)

I produced (and performed in) two iterations of this show at Little Andromeda, featuring comedy sketches written by myself and other local performing artists.

Winner of Little Andromeda’s 2019 “Late Comeback” award due to the huge number of door sales.

Mark wearing a black blazer, loose striped blue tie, white shirt, black striped skivvy, black tutu, black tights, and bare feet, gazing into the distance. To his right, a man in a wheelchair wearing office attire and a neck brace. By Erik Norder Photographer.

Off Book: The Musical (2018–2019)

This show by Impulse Theatre played at Orange Studios, Little Andromeda, the Dunedin Fringe Festival, and the New Zealand Improv Festival in Wellington.

“This is a great cast that is comfortable working together. Trusting and adapting, they are creating captivating scenes, I am hanging on every word. I am blown away that they can make up songs on the spot. They are funny, witty and complementary to each other.” – Roslyn Hart, Theatreview

“Improvisation in the best sense” – Erin Harrington, Theatreview

“Provokes peals of giggles and chokes of sympathetic or appreciative laughter” – Hannah Molloy, Theatreview

An accountant raises his hands singing an impassioned song about spreadsheets while his unimpressed mother makes a sandwich.

A Chorus of Disapproval (2019)

I played Guy Jones in this production by Canterbury Repertory Theatre.

Guy Jones sits at a table holding two drinks uneasily while the townspeople gather at the bar behind him.

Community Noticeboard: The Musical (2019)

A fully improvised musical by Impulse Theatre at Little Andromeda.

Things Like That: Big Jimmy Small and Friends (2019)

I appeared in several sketches as part of the Christchurch Comedy Carnival.

The Hollow (2018)

I played Edward Angkatell in this Agatha Christie play staged by Canterbury Repertory Theatre.

Henrietta and Edward Angkatell look happily into each other's eyes in a lavish English country house.

Who Loves Me? (2018)

With Halswell Drama Group, I played “Curtis the Stockbroker” in the New Zealand debut of Who Loves Me? – written by songwriter John Field of Wiggles fame. It was a pleasure to be seen by the writer of the musical on closing night, and to be told by him that I embodied the character perfectly.

The characters of Who Loves Me look disbelievingly into the distance.

Flatmates (2018)

I appeared in this improv show by Impulse Theatre at Little Andromeda.

Mask Life (2018)

I appeared in this improv show by Impulse Theatre at Orange Studios.

Strangers (2017–2018)

This hit show by Impulse Theatre played at Orange Studios, Little Andromeda, the Dunedin Fringe Festival, and the Nelson Fringe Festival.

“Sharp and funny insight into our bizarre attempts to connect with others.” – Terry MacTavish, Theatreview

“If Strangers comes to your town, I urge you to see it.” – Georgina Sivier, Echoes from the Wings

“‘Strangers’ explores meeting new people and what strange pathways new relationships take.” – Christchurch Mail, 8 February 2018, page 17

A group of eccentric strangers gather outdoors at a bench.

Skitch (2017–2018)

I appeared in several sketch comedy shows in the Common Room Theatre Hub at Te Matatiki Toi Ora (the Christchurch Arts Centre).

Secrets (2017)

This long-form improvised show was brought to Christchurch by Philadelphia-based director Bobbi Block (as reported by The Press).

A bearded man whispers into a woman's ear.

So That Happened (2016–2018)

This improv show by Impulse Theatre played in Papa Hou at the Christchurch YMCA.

Three actors look at each other with melodramatic facial expressions.

Untold Stories (2016)

This improv show by Impulse Theatre played in Papa Hou at the Christchurch YMCA.