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Print Version

NZ Fringe Festival 2013
Written by Ralph McCubbin Howell
Directed by Hannah Smith
presented by Trick of the Light Theatre

at BATS Theatre (Out Of Site), Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington
From 12 Feb 2013 to 17 Feb 2013

Reviewed by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media], 14 Feb 2013
originally published in The Dominion Post

The new BATS Theatre venue is really humming with the start of the Fringe Festival and their early evening show, The Road That Wasn't There by Ralph McCubbin Howell is a real stunner. 

Highly original in concept and presentation, it uses many forms of theatrical conventions to tell its simple but very engaging story.

During the colonisation of New Zealand, many roads were marked out but never constructed. The lower half of the South Island has many more paper roads than any other area.

What happens if someone decides to travel down one of these fictional roads and create a magical world out of what they find?  This is the premise the writer McCubbin Howell has worked on for his story and which Hannah Smith as director has cleverly brought to life.

In a small north Canterbury town lives Maggie (Elle Wooton), an old eccentric lady and local identity.  Her son Gabrielle (Oliver de Rohan), who lives in the city, is called home by the locals to get his mum to move into a rest home.  In the course of clearing out the house Gabrielle finds things from Maggie's past which brings up memories.  She then begins to relate tales of her growing up in this small rural community including finding a map with a road that didn't exist.

In her imagination she journeys down this road and meets a host of characters, some friendly and some not so.

The many characters in the story of Maggie's trip down this road to nowhere is played out by a variety of creatively made puppets and shadow puppets. 

The two actors playing Maggie and Gabrielle, along with Ralph McCubbin Howell, create the many voices and characters behind these puppets which gives life in a most ingenious way to the story.

Aiding the production is Nick Zwart's set of brown cardboard boxes used most effectively be the actors and Tane Upjohn-Beatson's wonderfully lyrical and evocative sound track.

Thoroughly enchanting and totally engrossing, The Road That Wasn't There is a must see show for all ages. 
For more production details, click on the title above. Go to Home page to see other Reviews, recent Comments and Forum postings (under Chat Back), and News.

See also reviews by:
 John Smythe
 Matt Baker (Theatre Scenes - Auckland Theatre Blog);
 Lexie Matheson
 Erin Harrington
 Barbara Frame (Otago Daily Times);
 Kimberley Buchan
 John Smythe (2)
 Laurie Atkinson [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media] (The Dominion Post);
 Adrienne Matthews