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Print Version

by Brooke Berman
Director: Shannon Friday
Proudly presented by Backyard Theatre

at Gryphon, Wellington
From 2 Oct 2013 to 12 Oct 2013

Reviewed by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media], 5 Oct 2013
originally published in The Dominion Post

Life in New York apartments comes to town in Backyard Theatre's latest theatre presentation, Hunting and Gathering by Brooke Berman. 

Ruth (Harriett Prebble), the heroine of the piece, has spent the past fifteen years moving through more than two dozen New York apartment hunting for the perfect abode.  On the way she has had affairs and moved in with various lovers. 

She is currently house sitting after just busting up with a married academic, Jesse (Daniel Pooley), who in turn is moving into his own apartment having just divorced his wife after his bust up with Ruth. 

He is also having an affair with one of his students, Bess (Libby Wilson), who is sick of rooming with 6 other flatmates.  His half-brother, Astor (Aidan Weekes), who is best friends with Ruth, is “couch surfing” looking for the ideal spot to put down his roots and looking for someone to share with.

They all have families and some have jobs but they are transient and as the title of the play suggests “hunting and gathering” even though 3 of them are heading into “30 something” territory.

A sort of Bob & Carol Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice meets The Big Chill, it is a quirky and off-beat play with slick, at times rather too slick and superficial, dialogue, that nevertheless has some very funny lines and interesting comments, if somewhat American, about the plight of Generation Y moving into Generation X. 

The set of dozens of brown cardboard boxes that make up the set are creatively, and at times ingeniously used to create rooms and areas that never slows the momentum. 

And the cast of four under the assured direction of Shannon Friday aid the production greatly with their confidence, making the most of the quick-fire dialogue and moving the play along at a cracking pace.

In particular Harriett Prebble as Ruth conveys both fragility and vulnerability yet after all that happens to her is able to show a stoic resolve at the end that that has her moving forward to a new life with confidence.

As the two men in her life Daniel Pooley gives much credence to the plight of Jesse while Aidan Weekes is all nervous energy and he floats from one crisis and apartment to another. 

And Libby Wilson is every part the seductress in snaring her teacher, all of which makes for an entertaining if not necessarily deep and meaningful evening's entertainment.
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See also reviews by:
 Maryanne Cathro