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Photo: John McDermott
Photo: John McDermott
By Victor Rodger
Direction: Roy Ward

at Maidment, Auckland
From 20 Sep 2007 to 13 Oct 2007

Reviewed by:  Sian Robertson;

When Victor Rodger's My Name is Gary Cooper was first performed during Auckland Theatre Company's THE NEXT STAGE series in 2006, it caused a sensation - immediately being hailed by audiences as the most exciting new New Zealand work to emerge in decades.  Now, Auckland Theatre Company is thrilled to present the world premiere season of this daring 'sex revenge' drama at the Maidment Theatre from September 20 - October 13.

Wide shot - Samoa - 1952. Hollywood legend Gary Cooper sets the Island alight filming Return To Paradise "the great South Pacific adventure".  Cut to - Los Angeles - 1973. A young Samoan man charms his way into the lives and hearts of a movie industry family. Close-up - Auckland - 2000. Hollywood cinema Avondale. A revival screening of Return To Paradise throws new light on a family cycle of betrayal and revenge.

Starring Robbie Magasiva in the boldest stage role of his career, My Name is Gary Cooper jumps time zones and cultural divides to challenge our gaudy Technicolor images of island life and Hollywood dreams. Erotic, funny and full of machete-sharp dialogue, one of our most daring contemporary playwrights offers a new insight into the steamy side of Paradise.  

"Victor Roger is on the cutting edge of New Zealand playwriting", says Director Roy Ward. "My Name is Gary Cooper is a unique and shockingly funny tale of sexual revenge that showcases some of New Zealand's best Pacific Island and Palagi talents - this show is not to be missed."  

An exceptional cast of established and emerging actors will join Magasiva on stage for this production.  From celebrated performers Jennifer Ward-Lealand (Decadence), Roy Snow (Some Girls), Anapela Polataivao (TVNZ's The Market, Island Girls) and Goretti Chadwick (The Market, Frangipani Perfume); to up and coming talents Nora Aati, Liesha Ward Knox (The Bomb, Plenty) and Damien Harrison (The Tutor, Shortland Street).   

Christchurch-born Victor Rodger is a playwright of Samoan and Scottish descent.  His first play Sons won Chapman Tripp Awards for Best New Play and Best New Writer in 1998.  He is also the author of Cunning Stunts (1997) and Ranterstantrum (2002) which was part of the International New Zealand Festival of the Arts.  Since 2000 he has written for Shortland Street and also for Karaoke High.

Last year he was the Fulbright-Creative New Zealand Pacific Island Writer in Residence at the University of Hawaii, Honoulu where he worked on a film adaptation of Sons.  He is currently working on an adaptation of Witi Ihimaera's novel The Uncle's Story.

 Auckland Theatre Company's production of Victor Roger's My Name is Gary Cooper will run at the Maidment Theatre from 20 September - 13 October. Book at the Maidment Theatre 09 308 2383 or online at 

Nora Aati, Goretti Chadwick, Damien Harrison, Robbie Magasiva, Anapela Polataivao, Roy Snow, Jennifer Ward-Lealand, Leisha Ward-Knox

Set Design: Mark McEntyre
Lighting Design: Phillip Dexter
Costume Design: Elizabeth Whiting
Composer/Sound Design: Marc Chesterman