Trick of the Light and Circa Theatre Present

The Road That Wasn’t There

Written by Ralph McCubbin Howell

Directed by Hannah Smith


Hot on the heels of a clean sweep at the Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards, Trick of the Light Theatre are bringing their twisted New Zealand fairytale to the Circa stage in Wellington in July. From playwright Ralph McCubbin Howell and director Hannah Smith, The Road That Wasn’t There will play from July 8th – 19th – a curious tale from the shadowy corners of our history and the spaces between the lines on the map…

In New Zealand there are some 56,000 kilometres of paper roads – streets and towns that exist only on surveyors’ maps. Or do they? A young woman strays from the beaten track and finds herself in a paper town. It seems a land of possibility, but she soon discovers that actions taken in the fictional world can have frighteningly real consequences.

The play is rooted in New Zealand folklore; from lost moa roaming the foothills, to faeries drinking moonshine out the back of Mitre 10. McCubbin Howell says ‘It’s a story from the twitchy edges of children’s literature – a dark world reminiscent of Coraline, Pan’s Labyrinth, and the works of the late (great) Margaret Mahy.”

Told by three actors and fifty-three puppets, the show will appeal to those who enjoyed Trick of the Light’s recent show The Bookbinder (Best Theatre, Best in the Fringe – NZ Fringe Awards 2014). It features shadow play, live music and a score by award-winning local composer Tane Upjohn-Beatson.

The play was first performed in Scotland at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe, before touring around New Zealand in early 2013. It was awarded Outstanding New New Zealand Play, Most Promising New Director and Production of the Year at last year’s Chapman Tripp Theatre Awards, and the company is looking forward to bringing the show back for those who missed it the first time around. Director Hannah Smith says: “We’ve performed in loads of places, but we love acting up in front of a Wellington crowd – there’s no place like home.”

The Road That Wasn’t There will be playing in Circa 2 at 11am and 7pm throughout the winter holidays from July 8-19th. Tickets are available through Circa at or 04 801 7992. The show combines puppetry and live music in a wickedly funny original fairytale.

“Thoroughly enchanting and totally engrossing, The Road That Wasn’t There is a must see show for all ages.” – The Dominion Post

“Should attract an audience from 8 to 80 anywhere in the world.” – Theatreview

Road That Wasn't There


  • 11am + 7pm
  • 8th – 19th July
  • Circa Theatre, Wellington
  • 04 801 7992
  • Tickets $25/$20/$10