'Nuclear Family' awarded Best Stageplay (Script) at Moondance

'Nuclear Family' (“Divided we fall apart, united we might blow up”) is a comedic drama set in green New Zealand on the eve of the Chernobyl disaster.
'Nuclear Family' by Desiree Gezentsvey wins at Moondancel
‘Nuclear Family’, a new play by New Zealand writer Desirée Gezentsvey, has won the Atlantis Award for Best Stageplay (Script) at the 2011 Moondance International Film Festival.


‘Nuclear Family’, a new play by New Zealand writer Desirée Gezentsvey, has won the Atlantis Award for Best Stageplay (Script) at the 2011 Moondance International Film Festival. 

The Moondance International Film Festival, also known as "The American Cannes", and one of the world's most important international film festivals, is based in Boulder, Colorado, and honours artists who, through their creative work, actively increase awareness, provide multiple viewpoints, address complex social issues, and strengthen ties between international audiences.

'Nuclear Family' (“Divided we fall apart, united we might blow up”) is a comedic drama set in green New Zealand on the eve of the Chernobyl disaster, following a colourful bunch of Venezuelan and Soviet Jewish immigrants as they swing between the shocks and delights of their new lives.

Separated from their loved ones, and longing to belong in this upside-down world of Kiwis and other quirky immigrants, they are forced to question weather freedom and control over one's destiny are only illusions. 

The play, a solo show performed by Yael Gezentsvey, premiered to great reviews in February 2011 at the Adelaide Fringe Festival, directed by Dush Kumar and produced by Matthew Vecchio.

In the UK, it was part of the London Solo Festival and the 2011 Edinburgh Fringe Festival, directed by James Hadley. ‘Nuclear Family’ was listed as one of the Top 100 essential viewing shows in the FringeReview list. 

Playwright Desiree Gezentsvey was born in Caracas, Venezuela, and has lived in New Zealand since 1985 with her husband Yury (Principal First Violinist of the New Zealand Symphony Orchestra) and their three daughters, Michelle, Lara and Yael. Desiree has an MA in Creative Writing – Scriptwriting, from the International Institute of Modern Letters (VUW), and an MA in Literary Translation (English/Spanish). She has had plays and short films produced, and has published a bilingual book of poetry, ‘Next Time Around / la próxima vez’ (Steele Roberts, 2007). Her poetry piece ‘Under the Southern Stars’ was recorded and broadcast by Radio NZ, and seven of her poems were set to music by award winning NZ composer Dorothy Buchanan.

Desiree has been involved in various projects as script development consultant, and has translated works of fiction, poetry and theatre into Spanish and English, including Dave Armstrong and Oscar Kightley’s ‘Niu Sila’ and Ken Duncum’s theatrical adaptation of F. Scott Fitzgerald’s ‘The Great Gatsby’.

In ‘Nuclear Family’, Kiwi actor Yael Gezentsvey takes on twelve characters from various nationalities and ethnic backgrounds, with their own accents and nuances, ranging from four to eighty-five years of age.

Yael is a graduate of both Victoria University and Unitec in New Zealand, where she completed degrees in Film and Theatre, and Acting. Over the last eight years, Yael has worked as an actor, producer, director and writer on various stage and screen productions including the TVNZ Sunday Theatre television feature film 'A Piece of My Heart', and her own original play 'Paper Scissors Rock'.

‘Nuclear Family’ is presently booked for further productions in the UK, and Desiree and Yael look forward to touring the play internationally and bringing it back home for its New Zealand in the near future.


“The script (by Desirée Gezentsvey), written with heart, tragedy and a fair balance of true comedy, is remarkable. It veers between calamity and wit so deftly, and the characters are so well drawn, it feels and rings so true… personal and raw, emotional… Yael Gezentsvey is a uniquely talented actor… her real skill lies in her ability to embody the roles so completely, with the type of abandon one associates with a far more experienced, older actor… A riveting performance…” 5 stars (FRINGE REVIEW UK)

“Nuclear Family is both witty and moving and the themes represented are particularly relevant in today’s society… Captures the audience with comedy and depth… Nuclear Family is wonderfully engaging and the audience is entertained until the curtain falls. An exceptional piece of theatre not to be missed!” (FRINGE BENEFITS)

“Nuclear Family is a very welcomed migrant to the shores of the Fringe… gentle, humorous… A tour-de-force performance from actor Yael Gezentsvey.” 4.5 stars (THEATRE GUIDE)

“Multidimentional. A deft script… A fine all-round performance – tender, humorous, realistic – certainly deserving of the audience’s sustained applause.” (RIP IT UP)

"A play that deserves to become the talk of the fringe... a beautiful and poised piece that takes a heartfelt look at very complex ideas... rich in humour, emotion and pathos… A charming, sometimes dark, always entertaining exploration of what it means to be a migrant in a foreign world… The sheer skill and talent in Yael Gezentsvey’s performance is mind-boggling...  her talent and the well written script take precedence with no smoke and mirrors… Intriguing... witty... a warm, friendly, and touching insight into one of the most difficult and least covered issues in the world today.” 4 stars (EDFRINGEREVIEW)

"Intricate writing and beautiful voices...  Yael Gezentsvey seamlessly slips from character to character to create a vivid family dynamic... a thoroughly engaging story... just lovely." (THREEWEEKS – EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW)

Written by

Desiree Gezentsvey

10 Sep 2011