PLAY CHARTS SHIFTS IN NZ SOCIETY
THE TIGERS OF WRATH
By Dean Parker
Directed by Jane Waddell
at Circa Two, Wellington
From 3 Nov 2012 to 1 Dec 2012
Reviewed by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Med, 5 Nov 2012
originally published in The Dominion Post
The title of the new show opening in Circa Two, The Tigers Of Wrath, along with the publicity posters convey a play with a Chinese flavour. But don't be deceived. Although the politics of China play an integral part, especially at the beginning, and they do influence the lives of the three main characters, this is very much a NZ play, about New Zealanders and New Zealand politics.
In this richly worded and densely written play, playwright Dean Parker charts the changing mores of NZ society over a period of 35 years as we follow the intersecting lives of the three main characters, and how their changing fortunes over this period are influenced not only by their personal circumstances but by external forces.
Trish (Kate Prior) and Pauline (Heather O'Carroll) are university students on a trip to China in 1974 to observe firsthand the workings of Mao Zedong's Cultural Revolution. They are also lovers but their relationship is fractious, not helped by meeting Oliver (Nathan Meister), another kiwi student.
[Spoiler warning ...]
Fifteen years later it is Herne Bay, Auckland and Pauline and Oliver are now married. She is an MP in Mike Moore's Labour Government planning a coup to dump Moore in favour of Helen Clark. Oliver is an immigration lawyer but about to toss this in for a job with a finance company. They have two children, both at school, Simone (Neenah Dekkers-Reihanna) and Toby who never appears.
Then 20 years after this it is the Mangere Bridge Pub, and sitting alone is Pauline, now working as a cleaner. Enter Oliver, divorced from Trish, who is a television presenter, his finance company having collapsed. They are joined by Simone, who is now working for the rights of low paid workers. [... ends]
Although the writing in the first two acts is taut and full of emotionally charged dramatic moments (the third act needs far more developing to round the story off), there is little in the way of physical action that emanates from the dialogue. It is therefore to the credit of the director Jane Waddell and her strong cast that they are able to create real and believable characters from the script and hold the audience's attention. They never allow the wordiness to weigh the production down and do much to bring out the humour, making this an interest look at aspects of the changing face of NZ society.
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