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A TIME FOR REFLECTION

Print Version

MUNTED
Head Writer: Victoria Abbott
Researchers: Victoria Abbott and Jackie Shaw
Devisers: Victoria Abbott, Jackie Shaw, Kate McGill, Liz Carpenter, Alana Kelly, Frith Horan, Emma Draper and Taylor Hall
Director: Kate McGill
a new Documentary Theatre Project
presented by Bare Hunt Collective

at BATS Theatre, Wellington
From 24 Jan 2012 to 28 Jan 2012

Reviewed by Laurie Atkinson, 26 Jan 2012
originally published in The Dominion Post

The image used to promote Munted, a new piece of documentary theatre about the Christchurch earthquakes, is a cracked cup and saucer. On it is a picture of the Cathedral and the Chalice.

Before you enter the theatre you will be offered a cup of tea and a biscuit, and once in the auditorium you will see a tray loaded with cups and more dotted about the stage, and one cup sits centre stage in its own spotlight.

It's a good image. It suggests the restorative power of tea, the calming of nerves, a time to relax, reflect and recollect. It suggests a quiet social gathering in the most English of allNew Zealandcities. Chocolate and biscuits are also handed out to the audience during the hour-long show.

Munted is not a dramatic or sensational account of the terrible events. It is dotted with humour and spirit. It is a collage of verbatim interviews of ordinary people - from a cheery primary school teacher tending to her young charges like a mother hen to a phlegmatic bloke who found himself on his bike and under water in a fissure in the road – and how they reacted to what was happening to their lives, their city and other people.

We come across a journalist who is sensitive to the reactions of the people whom she is interviewing, particularly a couple grieving over the death of their son. There are others who can't get over how interested they are now in the science behind earthquakes and how they believe that they can tell accurately the magnitude and geographical position of a quake.

Under the astute eye of director Katharine McGill, who prevents the documentary from becoming static interview scenes, and assisted by the accurate spotlighting of the scenes by Janis C. Y. Cheng's flexible lighting plot, the three actors - Jackie Shaw, Victoria Abbott and Frith Horan – play the ordinary Cantabrians with instantly established and instantly recognizable portraits. My favourite was the taciturn young man for whom the first earthquake seemed to be no more than a minor inconvenience and an everyday event.

5% of ticket sales will be donated back to the Christchurch Community.     
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See also reviews by:
 John Smythe
 Lynn Freeman (Capital Times);
 Lindsay Clark
 Robert Gilbert
 Stephen Austin
 Matt Baker (Theatre Scenes - Auckland Theatre Blog);
 Mark Houlahan
 Holly Shanahan