Theatre

I’m an actor, improviser, and occasional director/producer. Below is a list of my stage roles and productions. Feel free to reach out about new opportunities for collaboration.

Mark holds his hand up whimsically wearing a denim jacket and stripy t-shirt. There's a cityscape and textured sunset clouds.

Mort (2024)

The Discworld wiki says it best: “Igneous Cutwell is a semi-major character in Mort. He is a wizard of little actual power, and lives in Sto Lat. He was appointed Royal Recognizer to Her Majesty, and his job entailed basically reminding everyone that Princess Keli was still alive. He is described as having a face like a pork pie.”

Cutwell the wizard, dressed in tights and a shiny red-gold hat and coat, holds his hands up in fear as a sword is pointed at his chest.
Princess Keli, Cutwell the wizard, a guard, and the Duchess of Sto Helit in the coronation scene of Mort.
“Mark Darbyshire as Cutwell, a wizard, [was] just perfect. Likeable, funny, believable, and very well dressed.”

Phoebe Biddle, Backstage Christchurch

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.
Flute, Puck, Bottom, and Starveling in A Midsummer Night’s Dream

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!

Michael crying and being held by his partner Donald in The Boys in the Band.
Mark Darbyshire as Michael and Rob Mattson as Donald 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. He wears a pastel pink suit and a blazer with white and blue stripes. There is a bright yellow background.
Mark Darbyshire as Ironing Man

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.
Mark Darbyshire and Nick John in Canvas Sketches

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
Mark raises his hands in passionate song wearing dress pants, white shirt, and a light blue tie, while a lady in a polkadot dress mimes makes a sandwich.
Mark Darbyshire as the passionate accountant son of Jo Ghastly in Off Book: The Musical

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.
Mark Darbyshire as Guy Jones in the pub in A Chorus of Disapproval

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.
Briana McZant as Henrietta Angkatell and Mark Darbyshire as Edward Angkatell in The Hollow

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.
Looking at “the billboard girl” in Who Loves Me?

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
A group of eccentric strangers gather outdoors at a bench.
Promo image for Strangers

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.
Promo image for Secrets. Fun fact: since this photo shoot was all about telling secrets, I took the opportunity to come out of the closet!

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. Mark has a beard.
Promo image for So That Happened

Untold Stories (2016)

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