RIVETED TO AN ELECTRIFYING GAME OF CAT AND MOUSE
AN UNSEASONABLE FALL OF SNOW
By Gary Henderson
Directed by Geraldine Brophy
at BATS Theatre (Out Of Site), Cnr Cuba & Dixon, Wellington
From 23 Jan 2014 to 1 Feb 2014
Reviewed by Ewen Coleman [Reproduced with permission of Fairfax Media], 27 Jan 2014
originally published in The Dominion Post
A man is in a room waiting. A young man nervously enters and sits at the table. Nothing is said. And so starts Gary Henderson's intriguingly tightly written and gutsy play An Unseasonable Fall of Snow currently playing at BATS Theatre.
One of the first lines the man Arthur (Jed Brophy) says to the young man Liam (Riley Brophy) is “You like puzzles…?” which, as the play progresses, is as much for the audience as it is for Liam.
Who these two are, what their relationship with each other is and what the outcome will be of their intense and dramatic encounter are just some of the pieces in this puzzle. A set of psychological mind games ensure that are not so much concerned with who did it but why.
The ruthless and sadistic interrogator Arthur questions the diffident and self effacing Liam about an incident in the early hours of the morning in Wellington during an unseasonable fall of snow.
Mercilessly and relentlessly, Arthur pursues his prey, confusing the inarticulate Liam more and more.
Liam's one word answers and his inability to either explain himself or take responsibility for his actions so frustrates Arthur that tempers flare to boiling point with violent consequences.
Yet Arthur doesn't have it all his own way and as the cat and mouse game progress aspects of Arthur's life are exposed to reveal that all is not what it seems, as Henderson's themes of truth, consequence and the value of human life slowly emerge.
Under Geraldine Brophy's understated yet assured direction the father and son team of Jed and Riley Brophy dig deep in Henderson's electrifying script to bring out many subtle nuances beyond the actual dialogue.
The tension is at times palpable as the games are played out by these two around the table. With minimal movement, they hold each other's and the audience's attention, never flinching from the intensity of their exchanges. Yet the silences are just as compelling as the dramatic vocal interactions and although a little hesitant at times on opening night, once the actors get into their stride this will be a most engaging and compelling production of a great New Zealand play.
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