THE SECOND TEST
written and performed by Jonathan Brugh
at Herald Theatre, Aotea Centre, The Edge, Auckland
From 15 Feb 2010 to 27 Feb 2010
From 16 Mar 2010 to 27 Mar 2010
Circa Two, Wellington
From 7 Dec 2010 to 23 Dec 2010
Fortune Theatre Studio, Dunedin
From 30 Mar 2011 to 17 Apr 2011
Dance Studio, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts, Hamilton
From 29 Jun 2012 to 30 Jun 2012
Reviewed by: Kate Ward-Smythe; John Smythe; Laurie Atkinson; Helen Sims; Sharon Matthews; Barbara Frame (Otago Daily Times); Gail Pittaway;
In 1953, the New Zealand Cricket Team embarked on its maiden tour to South Africa, including 22 year-old fast bowler Bob Blair.
On Christmas Eve, disaster struck in the form of a lahar down Mt Ruapehu, the infamous Tangiwai disaster. Amongst the 151 victims is Blair's new fiancé, Nerissa Love.
The Second Test tells Blair's story, one of the most famed in New Zealand sporting history. In cricketing circles the tale is legendary, full of drama, emotion and bravery.
Jonathan Brugh is an actor, playwright and amateur cricketer. Best known for his comedy work, the Billy T Award Winner (1998) has combined his love of the stage and New Zealand's summer game to create The Second Test.
“This story means a lot to the Cricket community, but I think it will resonate with any New Zealander who feels a sense of National pride,” Brugh says.
“It is for young people to see a slice of our history. It is for our seniors who will remember the tragedy of Tangiwai.”
After 18 months in development, the play will have its premiere season at the Aotea Centre's Herald Theatre from 15-27 February as part of the 2010 STAMP at THE EDGE season.
Associate Director, Arts Programmes Craig Cooper says that The Second Test is a perfect fit with the STAMP mandate to present fresh theatre, dance and music with a distinctive Kiwi flavour.
“This is a piece of New Zealand history and bringing it to the stage in the height of summer makes absolute sense,” Cooper said.
“This is a story not just for cricket fans, but for anyone who loves New Zealand stories.”
It's 1953 and the New Zealand Cricket Team embark on their maiden tour to South Africa. They farewell their wives and girlfriends and set off on their African adventure. For 22 year old fast bowler Bob Blair, traveling and playing alongside his childhood heroes Bert Sutcliffe and John Reid is a dream come true.
After a long sea voyage the team reaches its destination and their campaign commences in earnest. Then half way around the world tragedy strikes.
Christmas Eve, a lahar thunders down the Mt Ruapehu mountainside destroying everything in its path, including the rail-bridge at Tangiwai. Moments later, the overnight express arrives and hurtles into the void, taking nearly three hundred passengers with it into the Whangaehu River.
In Johannesburg the New Zealand team wakes to the news that 151 people have perished in the tragedy, among them Bob Blair's fiancé Nerissa Love. And as events unfold over the rest of this day - Boxing Day 1953 - it will become the most poignant day in New Zealand sporting history...
Blair is excused from playing duties, and the flags at Ellis Park fly half-mast.
But the opposition shows no mercy to the shell-shocked tourists. On a dangerous pitch, two New Zealand batsmen are hospitalised by express-pace, short-pitched bowling. Several others are felled by sickening body-blows. As the casualty list grows (and with it, the bloodstains on the pitch) champion batsman Bert Sutcliffe returns from hospital with his head heavily bandaged, and goes back in to bat to save the test for his beleaguered team. But even Sutcliffe's courage will be surpassed.
When the players turn to leave the field at the end of the New Zealand innings they're shocked to see the trembling figure of Blair walking out to bat. Sutcliffe asks Blair what the hell he's doing, and Blair replies, “Thought I'd better make myself useful.”
The crowd watches in stunned silence as Sutcliffe escorts Blair slowly out to the middle, arms locked, and with tears streaming down their faces. Then, brought to their feet by this heroic and defiant act, they give the pair a tremendous and rousing ovation.
“Out of the gloomy tunnel beneath the stand, into the clean white sunlight, Blair walked slowly, fumbling with his gloves, and as a man the spectators in the huge stand stood for him, stood in complete and poignant silence. Grown men, among them the New Zealanders in the pavilion and the South Africans on the field, shed tears at this moving moment, and they were not ashamed.” R.T. Brittenden
Despite Blair's brave gesture, New Zealand went on to lose the Second Test, and the series. But it won the admiration of cricket-lovers everywhere.
The Second Test
15-27 February 2010
Tickets $20-25*at www.buytickets or 0800 BUYTICKETS
*Service fees apply
16-27 March 2010
$20 full / $14 concession
(No show Sun/Mon)
07 December − 23 December
Tue-Sat, 7.30pm, Sun 4.30pm
30 March – 17 April 2011
Tues – Sat 7.30pm and Sun 4.00pm (no show Mon)
Tickets: $30 (full) and $20 (concession)
FUEL FESTIVAL 2012
Dance Studio, Gallagher Academy of Performing Arts
Fri 29 June, 7pm
Sat 30 June, 2pm & 7pm