STORIES OF CHRISTCHURCH
a new Documentary Theatre Project
presented by Bare Hunt Collective
at BATS, Wellington
From 24 Jan 2012 to 28 Jan 2012
Reviewed by Lynn Freeman, 1 Feb 2012
originally published in Capital Times
Here's a night out at the theatre for anyone who's ever questioned the relevance of live performance. Bare Hunt Collective has interviewed a range ofChristchurchpeople about their experience of the earthquakes. With the anniversary of the February quake looming, it's great timing and with its sensitive handling of the interviews entrusted to them, it's also revealing, moving and funny.
The three interviewers and actors, Jackie Shaw, Victoria Abbott and Frith Horan, each present about half a dozen – it doesn't feel right to call them ‘characters' given these are faithful portrayals of real people – so, half a dozen people who lived through, reported on or responded to the earthquakes. From the man who brushes off almost drowning after cycling into a waterlogged crack, to four year old George who learns about death and danger far too young, to the journalists who can't help but be shaken by what they witness, there are so many perspectives and every one adds to our understanding of what happened in Christchurch, and the emotional ripples emanating from the shakes and quakes.
The narratives are fractured and scattered, likeChristchurch's buildings, and you have to keep your wits about you at times, but that's no bad thing. We are reminded that while the rest of the country was transfixed by the images that were repeated on screen in the aftermath of the February earthquake, those living through it were without power and unaware of the full extent of the destruction for a long time. And some, when they did get TV coverage, couldn't bear to watch the coverage. Living through it was hard enough.
Katharine McGill keeps the actors' movements stripped down, saying they don't need costume changes, just a stance and a voice. Last time the collective presented documentary theatre they used mp3 players listening to their interviews as they spoke. They've dumped the technology and it's infinitely better. Elizabeth Carpenter uses scaffolding – a symbol of Christchurch at the moment – windows, chairs and mugs of tea, to great effect. We don't need bells and whistles, it's all in the stories.
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See also reviews by:
Laurie Atkinson (The Dominion Post);
Matt Baker (Theatre Scenes - Auckland Theatre Blog);