A MANIC WORLD
NZ Fringe Festival 06
Arctic Antarctic: a bipolar play
at BATS, Wellington
From 20 Feb 2006 to 28 Mar 2006
[1 hr 15 mins]
Reviewed by Ewen Coleman, 24 Feb 2006
originally published in The Dominion Post
Performed in a straight line by the actors, their only movement is when they stand up after long periods of sitting. They also shout a lot, creating very much the manic world of the two central characters Yellow, played by the writer and Ellen, Donna Muir. Also on stage is their "voice" Gary (Alex Greig) and Ellen's husband Steven (Michael Ness).
That the playwright has a first hand knowledge of the plays subject matter - mental illness, is evidence by the way the complexities of the subject is portrayed in great depth. And there is no denying that this is a powerful piece of writing based not only of Simmonds experiences of mental health but the systems set up to deal with the illness and those closely effected by it and that no doubt writing the play had some therapeutic value for her.
And there is no denying that the four accomplished actors on stage give it their all to make the piece as dramatic as possible, but whether an audience needs to share in Simmonds catharsis is questionable and perhaps a more objective piece of writing to highlight the issues raised by her experiences would have been more enlightening and certainly more entertaining.
See also reviews by:
John Smythe (John Smythe: theatre reviews);