The Pill Box - A Play Reading

6 October 2019 7:00pm — 9:00pm

Written by Ben Hutchison

Directed by Andrew McKenzie

The Pill Box is the latest play from critically-acclaimed playwright Ben Hutchison. Set in a South Island pharmacy in the early 1900s, it is a dark, seething comedy about an entrepreneurial pharmacist who sees the opportunity to capitalise on the sale of addictive over-the-counter medicine as a thinly-veiled substitute for alcohol.

Chlorodyne was notorious patent medicine of the 19thand early 20th centuries. Advertised widely as a treatment for cholera, diarrhoea, insomnia, neuralgia and migraines, its principal ingredients included laudanum, cannabis, and chloroform. Due to its high opiate content, it was highly addictive. At the heart of The Pill Box is the paradox that such a powerful drug was readily available over the counter in the midst of the fiercely-contested Prohibition debates regarding the production and sale of alcohol in early 20th-century New Zealand.

As alcohol and drug debates continue to be waged today, this play offers us an historic lens through which to reflect on these issues.

The one-off public reading of the script is the culmination of a two-day workshop during which the playwright will hear, see, and experience the play in the hands of a professional director, dramaturg, and actors. Ben Hutchison is excited about these two stages of “activating a sensory check to see if my dialogue, story arc, and key moments are jumping off the page as I intended.”

Ben will be most remembered for his work with popular music-comedy quartet The Lonesome Buckwhips. The group became perennial fringe festival favourites throughout New Zealand and Australia, including a NZ Fringe Festival Award for ‘Best Comedy’ and receiving a nomination for the illustrious Billy T Award in 2008. Ben also wrote and starred in a four-part mockumentary about the quartet that aired on Radio New Zealand in 2009. 

His play Dog premiered at The Basement Theatre in August 2014 to critical and popular acclaim.

The Pill Box is supported by the Dunedin City Council Professional Theatre Fund.

If you’ve been suffering from theatre withdrawal, get your hit with The Pill Box!


The Pill Box – A Play Reading

6th October, 7pm

Petridish, 8 Stafford Street, Dunedin

Tickets: $16 (includes light refreshments)

Bookings through Eventbrite


For more information contact: 

Kirby-Jane Hallum at Wolfgang Creative - +64 274745023 or

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