Desirée's award-winning play NUCLEAR FAMILY has been selected for a dramatized reading

at the WPIC in Santiago de Chile

7 to 12 October 2018  

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stageplay by Desiree Gezentsvey

based on the novel of the same title by Christine Leunens

 World Premiere at Circa Theatre, Wellington, August 2017

 “A commendably ambitious enterprise with an intriguingly international sweep… Its themes are universal and sweeping... The surprises are ingenious…” – THEATREVIEW

“Engaging and provocative” – DOMINION POST

“Very powerful” - KIWIBLOG



Desirée's Bilingual Poetry Book  'next time around / la próxima vez'

 available at SteeleRoberts


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"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.” – EDINBURGH FRINGE REVIEW

"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." – THREE WEEKS

“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…” – FRINGE REVIEW

An exceptional piece of theatre not to be missed!” – FRINGE BENEFITS


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STAGEPLAYS by Desiree Gezentsvey

  •  CAGING SKIES True passions. True lies.

Based on the novel of the same title by Christine Leunens

Johannes, a zealous member of the Vienna Hitler Youth, discovers a fateful secret – his family is hiding a young Jewish woman, Elsa, in their home. Her life in his hands, Johannes and Elsa embark on a haunting journey that blurs the lines between the captive and the free, the victorious and the defeated, as the horrors of the war unfold around them and each must find a way to survive. 

What happens when children innocently embrace an ideological lie, when parents become afraid of their own children, when the lie takes on a life of its own?

“He alone, who owns the youth, gains the future.” – Adolf Hitler 

“Make the lie big, make it simple, keep saying it, and eventually they will believe it.” – Adolf Hitler 

Caging Skies explores truth and lies at both political and personal levels, laying bare the darkest corners of the human soul. It's a story of universal relevance and consequence, not only as an echo of past events that shook humankind to its core, but as a confronting reflection of what is currently happening around us.  

Caging Skies premiered at Circa Theatre, Wellington, NZ, August 2017, directed by Andrew Foster, music and soundscape by Jeremy Cullen, performed by Tim Earl, Comfrey Sanders, Donna Akersten and Claire Waldron.

“A commendably ambitious enterprise with an intriguingly international sweep... Its themes are universal and sweeping... The political and the personal meet and blend believably and movingly... Built out of oppositions and contrasts... The surprises are ingenious…”  – Tim Stevenson, THEATREVIEW

“Engaging and provocative... Amazing evocative original music... Many moments of brooding silence, dramatic tension and heartfelt raw and emotional interactions.” – Ewen Coleman, DOMINION POST 

“A play that will resonate with many people... The 110 minutes fly by... Very powerful.” - David Farrar, KIWIBLOG

“The play is both chilling and hopeful... Gezentsvey shows that war and violence not only occur in the streets, but often rage in the depths of our hearts as well... It is only after the applause ends and the lights come up that we remember we’ve been watching a play, and not reality.”  - Rachel Pommeyrol, SCOOP


‘Superb... I was on the edge of my seat, holding my breath...’

‘A difficult topic sensitively portrayed... Amazing... Don’t miss this.’ 

‘Riveting... made me cry, laugh, and think’

‘Best theatre I’ve seen in a long time!’

‘Brilliantly written and acted...  The sound effects, lighting and music brought it all together to make this a masterpiece.’

‘Outstanding... so deep, moving and meaningful... you rarely see this angle about that terrible time in history, and it’s so relevant today’

‘Keeps playing in my mind, so powerful…’ 

“Highly recommended…  well written, well acted, pertinent, atmospheric. 

“The personal dynamics within the family setting in that terrible moment in history had me questioning the decisions we make in our everyday lives that ultimately reflect or stop the spread of evil... Suspenseful and engaging... Highly recommended.”

"I was holding my breath, crying, laughing... I thought there were a lot more than four actors on stage, couldn’t believe it when they came out to take a bow... Unreal!”

"Freaking amazing!" 

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Divided we fall apart, united we might blow up

Winner of the 2011 Moondance International Film Festival Atlantis Award for Best Stageplay (Script)

Named one of the Top 100 Must-see Shows at the Edinburgh Fringe 2012


A 5-star, “riveting” solo-show “written with heart, tragedy and a fair balance of true comedy” by Desirée Gezentsvey, and delivered in a “tour-de-force performance” by actor Yael Gezentsvey (Fringe Review/Theatre Guide).

NUCLEAR FAMILY 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 are forced to question whether freedom and control over one’s destiny are only illusions.

This socially significant show “captures the audience with comedy and depth… An exceptional piece of theatre not to be missed!” (Fringe Benefits).

"A play that deserves to be the talk of the Fringe" (Edinburgh Fringe Review)

"An exceptional piece of theatre not to be missed!" (Fringe Benefits)

‘Nuclear Family’ premiered at the Adelaide Fringe Festival 2011 (directed by Dush Kumar), followed by the London Solo Festival 2011 (directed by James Hadley),  Edinburgh Fringe Festival 2011, Etcetra Theatre London 2011, Norden Farm Centre for the Arts 2012, and NZ seasons at Wellington's Circa Theatre and Auckland's Q Theatre, 2012.

RADIO ADAPTATION - RNZ: 'Nuclear Family' was recorded and broadcast by RadioNZ Drama, 2014

For more information please visit


  • Say Aaahhh - short play - children's play for Howick Little Theatre's end-of-year show, Auckland 2009

  • The Seventh Feeling - professional 2-day workshop and staged reading - Toi Poneke, Wellington 2008 / Aotearoa Playwrights Conference  2006

  • Deep Down - short play - Couch Soup, Wellington Fringe Festival 2007


  • Nuclear Family - 10min play - finalist for Short & Sweet Festival, Sydney 2007


  • The Jungle Notebook - short play - Couch Soup, Wellington Fringe Festival 2006

  • Considering Rachel - BATS Theatre, Wellington Fringe Festival 2005



  • See What You Get - short screenplay - Semi-finalist at Moondance International Film Festival 2013
  • Fishing for Waves - short screenplay - Semi-finalist at Moondance International Film Festival 2012
  • Outside In - short film - finalist in Moonlight Shorts film competition, Auckland 2006 / WIFT Wellington screening / Belladonna Film Festival NZ


  • Crack - short film - 48-hour competition, Wellington 2005
  • Hats to the Wind - feature length screenplay (yet to be produced)
  • Ghost Net - feature length screenplay adaptation of Lynn Davidson's novel of the same title (yet to be produced)



  • Paper, Scissors, Rock - stageplay by Yael Gezentsvey - BATS Theatre, Wellington 2010
  • Various screenplays (yet to be produced)